Hello, new runners, and congratulations on beginning a powerful and transformative journey of movement, fitness, and self-discovery. As you embark on your very first miles, whether you're walking, jogging, or somewhere in between, I have a bit of advice for you that may sound a little crazy: sign up for a half-marathon. Seriously! I promise you can do it. Maybe that 13.1 is a little daunting — maybe shoot for a 10K, or even a 5K. The point being, sign up for a race . . . and then make sure you schedule a race every six months to a year. Here's why.
It Gives You a Goal
As a new runner, I signed up for a half-marathon that was about four months away. I had no goals for speed (other than to maintain the required pace), but I knew I had a training program that would keep me accountable for my daily runs . . . and cross-training! I knew that I wasn't just running for the heck of it but that I was working toward something great that would eventually be one of my greatest personal accomplishments.
It Keeps You Consistent
It can be hard to hold yourself accountable daily, but when you have something to work toward, it'll get you out there and on the pavement (or trail, or beach) consistently, which is the best way to build strength and be a better runner. I found that in stretches of time in which I wasn't working toward a half-marathon goal or training program, getting back out there was tougher, and I'd skip running for weeks or even months. When I finally did go out for a run, I was out of breath and tired — like I had regressed a little bit. Keeping a goal like this on your schedule will ensure that your consistency is set up, and you'll be continually progressing in your journey, getting stronger with every step.
It Gives You a Benchmark
My favourite part of this method? Checking my progress. You'll be astonished at the progress your body can make in six months to a year, and it's not something you can get by comparing your runs day after day, or even week after week. In my personal experience, the comparative feeling of my first to my second half-marathons — even my fifth to my sixth — makes me just as if not more proud than that feeling of crossing the finish line.
If you're looking for a way to check on your physical progress that isn't a scale and that isn't a progress photo . . . something that has nothing to do with weight or aesthetics and everything to do with personal strength . . . you need to try this method. It may seem scary, it may seem daunting, but trust that you can do it, and you will reap the amazing benefits, physically and mentally. There are few greater rewards in life than proving yourself to yourself, in a way you never imagined possible.