My Running Journey

Alternate title: How I went from laughing at the idea of running a marathon to running two in six months.

Today, we’re gonna take a little deviation from homes and kids and DIY and chat about running. Over the weekend, I ran my second full marathon. I shared a few details about the experience over on Instagram, and I got asked about my overall running journey. How did I get into it, how do I train, etc. It’s a question I get asked with some regularity, so I figured it was high time I put together a post sharing some details!

It’s not a short post, so here’s a little table of contents for you, if there are specific things you’re interested in!

My History With Running

I wasn’t a runner in high school. In fact, I’ve never been a particularly athletic or coordinated person. I tried tennis, failed miserably, and then gave up on sports altogether.

Though I’ve never been any good at competitive sports, exercise has always been a part of my life. I have core memories of being 8 or 9 years old doing kid-led workout exercise VHS tapes. My dad was always very active (he rode bikes and ran), and my mom was always incredibly consistent with walking on the treadmill or doing exercise tapes. Working out never felt optional to me – it was just a thing you do.

Once I went to college, I wanted to be more consistent about exercise so I tried the university gym…and I hated it. I quickly learned that if I had to get in the car and drive somewhere to work out, I wouldn’t do it. I needed to either do it in my house, or be able to open my door and just start.

There was a park with a small trail (maybe a mile or s0) right behind my apartment complex, so I started running on that once or twice a week. And then when I left that apartment, I started running some just around the area where I lived. I still worked out via a DVD more often than not – 30 Day Shred was my jam – but running was a semi-regular thing.

This continued for years. I always worked out with at least some consistency, but physically running outside only happened on occasion. And, when it did, I didn’t track my runs or pay attention to pace – I just set a timer for 30 minutes and moved my body until it went off.

And then COVID…

And then, March of 2020 happened. Suddenly, we were all stuck in the house all together. All the time. And I’m a big introvert who desperately craves and needs some quiet, alone time.

So, I started running. Outside. Every single day.

I bought my first ever pair of “real” running shoes for this trip with my besties in the summer of 2021!

At first, it was just a couple of miles at a time, interspersed with lots of walking breaks. I was in perfectly fine shape but I had no real endurance. Running was partially for heath, mostly for my sanity. I needed it. And soon, I began to love it too. Late in 2020, a group in my neighborhood started a weekly social run. We kept enough distance from one another that it felt safe, but it was a great way to learn more about running from people who knew what they were doing, meet people in the neighborhood, and actually talk to other adults.

I slowly started lengthening my runs just to see what I could do, and by the fall of 2020, I was running 4 or 5 miles at a time very consistently, interspersed with the occasional 10K. I started running at least 3-4 times a week, every single week, and I haven’t stopped yet!

My First Races

The first race I ever signed up for was in November of 2021. It came just two months after my mom was in a life-threatening accident and less than 2 weeks after she was finally released from the hospital.

That race felt like victory to me in a lot of ways – I was celebrating her life and health, I was celebrating getting through the hardest two months of my life, and I was more aware than ever that you can’t put off a thing you want to do in life. Because, who knows how much time is left?

After that race, I still was adamant that I had no interest in a marathon. A half marathon was enough for me – it was hard, but doable. Training for a marathon felt impossible. I have small kids! And I run a business! Where in the world would I find time to train?!

I did another half marathon in April of the following year…and then…

My First Marathon {The BCS Marathon, 2022}

I honestly don’t think I could tell you what actually possessed me to sign up for my first marathon. There was a race happening in College Station (where I went to college) and I loved the idea of doing a race through my old stomping grounds.

I had every intention of signing up for the half. But when I went to sign up I just…clicked full instead.

Maybe it was my husband’s constant insistence that he knew I could do it. Maybe it was that little voice in the back of my head that always pushes me to challenge myself. Maybe it was just the knowledge that life is short and I should do the hard, crazy things.

I signed up for that race really early and began training about 20 weeks out. I was terrified and I wasn’t about to let myself fail. I spent hours researching training plans and combined a couple of different ones for a really robust plan that had me run 20 or 21 miles four different times before the actual race.

I felt nervous but super prepared on the day of the race.

And then? It totally kicked my ass.

I mean – don’t get me wrong. I met my goal (I hoped to be under 4:30, and I finished in 4:28). I finished it without injury. By all accounts it was a success. But it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I thought I might keel over dead a couple of different times. Afterwards, I was overwhelmed and a little emotionally numb and soooooooo ridiculously sore.

For the week after my race, I felt so sad. People kept suggesting that maybe it was because all of the training was over and I didn’t have anything to look forward to, but it didn’t feel like that. It felt a little like I didn’t believe it actually happened. It felt like a dream, and for weeks I had a hard time processing that I did it. I felt like I never really and truly celebrated my accomplishment, because even though I went through the motions of celebrating and saying how proud I was…it just felt like none of it was real.

It was a disorienting and unexpected feeling. I swore I’d never run another marathon again – one was enough for me. Everyone that knows me laughed every time I said it, but I was adamant.

And then.

My Second Marathon {The Texas Triple, 2023}

A friend of mine ran her first marathon in January of this year. I went to cheer her on with my best friend Parisa. As we watched her run, she asked if I had changed my mind about marathons yet, and I proudly said no way. This wasn’t changing my mind. No more marathons for me.

But then, in the moment when we were standing at the finish line watching her cross, it hit me. I had to run another one. And soon.

There’s something about that running bug that I just can’t explain. But when it hits, you know it.

So, a couple of weeks later, I started searching for a race. I wanted to sign up for something happening as soon as was reasonably possible so I didn’t lose my nerve. I found one happening 10 weeks later in Dallas, did a quick Google search to confirm that was a reasonable (if slightly insane) amount of time to train, and signed myself up.

That race was this past Monday. And while yes, it completely kicked my ass (I think marathons are supposed to do that), the experience was very different from the first time around.

I have a bad habit of underestimating myself. It’s a bit of a self-preservation tactic (I hate failing!), but I just kept telling myself that first race was probably a fluke. I couldn’t do it again. So, my mission this time around was simply to prove to myself that I can. And not only can I do it, I can do it with only about two months of training versus the five I had before!

And I did! It was hard, but easier than last time since I knew it was highly unlikely my legs would actually fall off. And while I did feel some of the post-marathon blues, this time I around I knew it was coming and prepared a bit better with a light work schedule and lots of time with the people I love.

And this time around, it does feel real. I did that. I ran 26.2 miles. Twice! And I could do it again if I wanted to!

(Let’s be honest, I’m sure I will).

Your Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you’ve heard the full (and unabridged, sorry, I’m anything but succinct) story of how I got into running, let’s chat about some of the things you wanted to hear about!

What Does Your Running Schedule Look Like?

When I’m not training for a marathon, I typically run 20-25 miles a week. Generally, it looks a little something like this:

  • Monday: Long run (typically 10 miles, but I set a goal to run 13.1 at least once a month all year long)
  • Tuesday: Weight lifting + 2 easy miles
  • Wednesday: 10k (6.2 miles)
  • Thursday: Rest day
  • Friday: Weight lifting + 2 easy miles
  • Saturday: 5k (3.1 miles)
  • Sunday: Rest day

I change it up sometimes, but this is the general schedule I stick to!

How Do You Fit in Long Runs?

I’m incredibly lucky in that both my husband and I have jobs with (very) flexible hours. We both set our own schedules, so I’m able to fit in long runs relatively easily. Anytime I’ll be running longer than an hour, I’m out the door by 5:30 AM. On 15-20 mile days, that puts me home by 9:30 at the latest.

Corey is super supportive and has no problem dealing with the morning chaos with the kids so I can squeeze in my runs!

My first ever long run when I was training for my first marathon!

How Do You Stay Injury Free…and Deal With Injuries When They Happen?

Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with many running injuries yet, but they’ve happened. The key when they do is to listen to your body and rest!

In my own personal experience, most injuries have come from a few specific things:

  • Pushing myself too hard. Rest days are vital, don’t forget to take them! Every 6 weeks or so, you should also have a rest week where you reduce your mileage by up to 50%.
  • The wrong shoes or socks. You should always wear running socks – not just regular old socks. Same with your shoes! And, running shoes should only be used for 500-ish miles before they’re retired. Running on too-worn shoes can cause joint pain and injuries…I know from personal experience!
  • Not taking care of my body. And finally, when I don’t work hard to stay hydrated, eat well, and listen to my body, I’m more likely to get hurt. I am super intentional about getting enough water every day, taking collagen daily (it helps so much with joint pain!), and eating well the day before a long run. It’s vital!

So, what happens when I do get hurt? I rest as much as I can, and then when I’m ready I slowly jump back in. If you’ve had to take more than a few days off from running, you should always ease back in. Try starting at 25% of what you were doing, and work your way back up.

How Do You Get Back on the Wagon if You Fall Off?

Running is more of a mental game than most people realize. Yes, you need to be in good physical condition, but your body is capable of so much more than your brain realizes.

For me, I’ve learned it’s all about consistency and not letting myself get in my head about it. I know that if I feel tired one morning and skip my run, I’ve now given my brain permission to use that excuse anytime. So, I just don’t. If I’m extra tired I might run less or slower but it’s incredibly rare for me to skip a run. Because I don’t see it as optional!

I’ve learned that running reduces my anxiety significantly, gives me some important alone time, keeps me calmer, and helps my body feel great. So, why would I want to skip that?! Even on days where it feels extra hard, I force myself to get up and do it. Maybe that makes it sound overly simple, but it truly is a mental game – you have to get your brain on board!

Our first family neighborhood 5k in 2021!

Do You Incorporate Intervals and Speed Work?

When I’m training for a race, I do some speed work, yes. But, I don’t let myself get too caught up in working on pace. I’m not trying to win any races or be the fastest around. Plus, running at a slower pace and keeping your heart rate in “Zone 2” (aka: not too high!) is so much better for your overall fitness. So, I focus on that more than anything else.

Do You Do Any Cross Training?

Yes! I recently started incorporating weight lifting into my routine and I’m loving it. I have never really liked strength training at all, but I started doing it twice a week with my best friend and it is so much easier for me to do it with a friend. Running I like to do mostly alone, but weight lifting? I need a buddy!

Cross training is really helpful for runners, and should be incorporated into everyone’s routine (though, I’ll admit, I only added it in this year!). It doesn’t matter too much what you do – anything is helpful – but lifting and working on core strength is highly recommended!

What Running Gear Do You Recommend?

Here’s a rundown (hah!) of all of the things I consider important to my running.

Note: I recommend starting off with at least two pairs of running shoes. You should always give your running shoes at least 48 hours to “recover” between runs!

What’s Next?

Now that I’ve proven to myself I can run a marathon, I think I’d like to plan on running on at least annually. I loved the one I did this past week, and I think I’ll likely sign up for it again next year.

I am signed up for a half marathon in October, and my goal is to finish it in under 2 hours – which would be a big feat for me!

Other than that, I’m just trying to keep up my schedule, run races when I find one I’m interested in, and continue to maintain my schedule! I don’t currently see myself going for anything longer than a marathon, or doing any other types of races…but if I’ve learned anything in this running journey it’s to never say never!

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