Although I have been running for quite some time, I did not participate in my first race until this past March. After playing soccer my entire life, when I came to college, I was simply looking for a way to stay fit that would not involve the pressure of competitive sports. However, the more I ran, the more competitive I became… with myself. Finally, I worked up the courage to sign up for a 5K, and it was one of the most positive experiences of my life.
Change Your Pace
When all you are doing is running, it is easy to get in a rut. Signing up for a 5K gave me the extra push I needed to kick my workout into a higher gear. I had been putting in a little over five miles every morning at almost the exact same time. Suddenly, I was finishing my runs faster, and I found that I was more motivated to improve my speed. I set a goal time for myself, and because I loathe failure, I was determined not to cross the finish line a second later.
By nature, I am a chronic-worrier, so you can imagine what my nerves were like on the week leading up to the race. If I had not been so worried about finishing slowly, I definitely would not have put in the extra work to ensure that that would not happen. I purposely signed up for a 5K (3.1 miles) because it was significantly shorter than the distances I was used to running. However, I worried that the course would be hilly and my short legs would tire quickly. To compensate, I pushed the incline on the treadmill to 10 and ran hills outside in my neighborhood. I also enlisted a friend to run with me, so I would have someone next to me when the race began.
Take It All In
Arriving in downtown New Haven with the 2,000 other participants was thrilling (and nerve-wrecking at the same time). As I watched all of the different runners, I couldn’t help but feel like I was taking part in something bigger than myself. Not only was everyone there to support a great cause, but all of these people were there to take a step towards a healthier and more active lifestyle. As it neared the start of the race, everyone gathered at the starting point. I found myself surrounded by men and women, children and senior citizens, marathon runners, and recreational walkers – all walks of life. When the official announced that the course was “pancake flat,” all 2,000 of us cheered in unison.
Boost Your Confidence
When the gun went off, something inside of me did too. My legs felt weightless, my lungs felt clear, and my mind felt relaxed. I started running at my comfortable pace but realized I could go faster. When I reached the first mile marker in less than eight minutes, I decided to throw out my previously made goal and reach for a new one. The crowd lining the streets encouraged me to move faster, and the lone man standing about a half-mile before the finish line seemed as if he were clapping and shouting just for me. I passed a lot of people that day, but as fast as I ran, I could not seem to catch up with the eight-year-old in front of me. He caused me to keep pushing myself. I was the 356th person out of 2,000 to cross the finish line, and I finished in 23 minutes and 54 seconds– more than three minutes under my original goal!
Getting fit is all about having fun and feeling good about yourself. Maybe a 5K isn’t for you, but there are so many different ways to expand your fitness horizons! Set goals for yourself, work until you physically cannot work any harder, and I promise, you will be happy you did. Have a safe and active summer!Tweet