Isn't it amazing how the life experiences we have in our teen years can effect our self esteem for the rest of our adult lives?! Like many people, my defining moments were in gym class. Specifically, it was the 1-mile "warm up" run at the start of each class. I don't recall a single day where I made it through the entire mile without stopping to walk...and I had gym class every day for all 4 years of high school.
College wasn't much better for improving my physical fitness. I selected a university that tore down its football stadium and erected a library. You can see where my priorities were....
As an adult, in an attempt to have the ability to eat more without gaining weight, I started working out at the gym on and off during the years. Most recently, when I turned 30, I enrolled in a boot camp at 5am. Why? Because I'm a complete Type-A with an all or nothing approach to everything I do. Throughout the 12 weeks (which I hated every minute of) I grew stronger. At the end, we did a 3 mile treadmill run as a test. I ran the entire way. I amazed myself and learned that the key to running the entire way was running slowly.
I enrolled in a 5k, and then another, and then in January 2009 I decided I was going to run a half marathon. For 9 months, I adhered to my training plan on runnersworld.com and trained entirely on my own. On September 13, 2009, I ran (without walking) the Crystal Lake Half Marathon in 2:12. It was truly a defining moment in my life because I never thought I could do it.
The following year my husband, who has struggled to add muscle to his naturally tall and lean physique, finally realized that maybe he should take up running since he looks like a runner anyway. His approach was entirely different than mine. He started participating in the FREE fun group runs at our local running store, the Running Depot.
I would never have been caught dead running with a group during my training, because it was like a flashback of high school gym class, where I risked coming in dead last every time. However, when I went to pick up my husband after one of his fun runs, I noticed that many of the people there were "normal" looking people. They came in all shapes and sizes and all levels of fitness. Some were even working on a run/walk plan. Some of them had run 1-3 miles, while others had run 17 miles.
The Running Depot in downtown Crystal Lake is a real local gem with employees who are there to support and promote the overall love of the sport, not sell you a bunch of gadgets you don't need. If you have ever considered running, I highly recommend you go and get fitted for a good pair of running shoes and then read The Courage to Start by John "The Penguin" Bingham.
And for those who already run, there is still time to sign up for the 2010 Crystal Lake Half Marathon!