Why This Non-Runner Signed up for a Half-Marathon


I run outside looking a bit scrappy because I am still figuring out what gear I really need. Those are my daughter’s pink leg warmers!

I’ve been involved in a consistent fitness routine for four years now- and that right there is a miracle.  I spent my 20’s eating junk and only exercising in random attempts lasting less than a month.  Realizing that the baby weight just doesn’t slip off after kid number 3 is what made me get serious about fitness.  I wrote about my transition to becoming an exerciser here.  Now, at age 36 I am taking it up another notch.  I am going to run a half-marathon.

In the last three years I’ve run two 5K races and one 5 mile race.  I love the feel of races.  There is so much energy, excitement, and enthusiasm.  I love feeling the rush of the starting line and the push to the finish line.  It was the actual running that I was finding difficult.  I would be pretty good during the race (thanks to my awesome baby brother coaching me along for 2 races and my sweet husband hanging in there for a 5K, too).  My problem with running was when the crowds disappeared and the outside encouragement stopped, I did too.

I would never walk out of a fitness class early, but no one was paying attention to my time on the treadmill.  Classes require me to commit to a time I’m going to work out, and actually show up to do it.  It was way too easy to put off running when I didn’t have to schedule it into my life.  Therefore, my lack of commitment to running caused me to always be stuck in that breathless, awkward finding your pace phase that just sucks the fun out of it.

So what happened?  What changed?  Why would I even want to run for 13.1 miles?

The answer is the sticker.   I want the sticker that says 13.1 stuck on the back of my minivan.  (Just kidding…but, also a tiny bit serious).  I AM getting one of those stickers.  Come on people, 13.1 miles is an accomplishment!

Beyond the sticker lies the true reason I am training to run a half-marathon; I am running a half-marathon as a gift to myself.  I’ve stood on the sidelines and cheered for other amazing women going after it and running their race.  My heart has beat wildly just standing there wishing I had the courage and capacity to run a race like that too.  I dreamed of being a runner- one that actually enjoyed it.  I dreamed of pushing myself beyond my physical limits and accomplishing something that required me to plan ahead, dig down deep, and invest in myself.

The embers of desire were fanned into flame when I stumbled across the Fellow Flowers booth recently at a women’s expo.  The Fellow Flowers describe themselves as a “women’s running movement that honors, shares and celebrates the reasons behind why women run…because we believe that every woman has a story and every woman runs with a purpose.”  Their booth was full of t-shirts and cute silk flowers that runners wear in their hair during a race as a signal to one another of what motivates their run.  There are 12 different colors signifying varied purposes and motivations to run.  When I read the description of the silver “hope” flower I was struck with my reason for running.  I need a silver lining.  It’s been a hard year, but I have hope beyond my circumstances.  I’m healing.  I’m not broken beyond repair.  Taking all of this emotional energy and turning it into something good and useful (like training to run 13.1 miles) sounds like a positive way to love and care for myself.

The next thing I needed to really get the running fire going was to sign up for a race.  Right here in Madison, Wisconsin we have the perfect race opportunity for women. The Her Madison Half Marathon & 5K is on June 26, 2016.  Simply signing up to run the half-marathon was a cardio peak exercise experience.  I was nervous, scared, thrilled, and giddy as I registered for the race.  I committed to be a participant, no longer just a spectator wishing I had the guts to run a race like that.

Now, I just have to get there.  I have to train now to get to the finish line 13.1 miles later.  I am training now for a race that is 6 months away! For the record, most people don’t need that much training time.  Do your research.  There are all kinds of training plans out there to get you ready.  Find one that fits you and go for it!

I started early because I wanted time to fall in love with running.  I reflected on what caused me to fail with running before, and I took some precautions.

Guardrails to Keep Me on the Path  

  1. I schedule out my runs like I schedule out my fitness classes.  If running has a spot on my schedule it is way more likely to happen than if it is just an item on the never ending to-do list.
  2. I follow a plan with achievable weekly running goals and realistic progression.  I’m trusting the process to get me ready.  My favorite running shirt says, “Forward is a Pace.” So true!
  3. I tune into my body.  Yesterday I really wanted to run, but I could feel my muscles needed to be stretched and released.  A yoga/pilates mix class was exactly what I needed.  I left feeling so great, and I enjoyed my run today without soreness.
  4. I appreciate my body as I run.  I don’t run to punish myself for eating too much indulgent food.  I don’t run to be the fastest.  I don’t run to just get the exercise over with.  I run as a thank you to myself.  I can run, I get to run, and so I will run.  It is a gift.

If your heart is burning within you as you read this post, take notice!  This could be your year to join the race too!  Courage has an incredible ability to multiply.  Let’s run our race mamas!  So, if you do join in and see a super sweaty tall girl with a swinging ponytail adorned with a silver flower- shoot me a smile.  I’ll smile back because I think we are both awesome.

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5 Responses to Why This Non-Runner Signed up for a Half-Marathon

  1. Jillian January 8, 2016 at 7:15 am #

    This is my first time commenting on this blog–i just wanted to wish you the best of luck in your training! What you wrote here completely describes how I felt before signing up for my first big race over 10 years ago…which led to accomplishing that big goal and then signing up for many, many more races. 🙂

    Now as a first time mom, I’m struggling a bit to get back into a running routine. I find myself back in the exact spot you wrote about here. It’s so hard to get myself to run, and so easy to back out of my “plans” to run! But in 2016 I said I want to run a big race this year. Long story short…thank you for some much needed motivation!

    Happy training/running to you. Go get that sticker!

    • Barbara January 8, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      Congratulations on becoming a mama! Great goal for yourself in 2016 to go after a big race again. I saw another running shirt that said, “Going for a run doesn’t make Mommy selfish, it makes Mommy awesome.”

  2. Lauren January 8, 2016 at 7:28 am #

    See ya at the race! The Mom’s Run This Town/She Runs this Town FB group has been a huge encouragement to me to go for my goal.

  3. Barb January 8, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    So proud of you! Can’t wait to see you cross that finish line, but more importantly enjoy the process!

  4. Krista January 9, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    Barbara, your post resonated so much with your post. I’ve used running in the past as a form of therapy. But, after two kids I found a million excuses why I couldn’t get back into it. But I desperately wanted to. So, I too signed up for the Her Half Marathon 🙂 i too have been very inspired by fellow flowers. I went for my first run today. I’m anxious to see what the next 5 months have in store. I’m doing a training program though the FOO group, fleet feet and orange shoe. It starts at the end of February, if interested 🙂 best of luck in your journey and see ya at the finish line!

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