Two weeks ago I wrote that it takes months or even years to unlock your true potential as a runner. And rather than just take my word for it and sign yourself up for a diet of 100-mile weeks for the next seven years, I thought I'd share some real life examples of how this gradual improvement works.
So, I'll begin with myself.
I took up running seriously at age 25. I had grown up surfing and skateboarding and had run occasionally for about 15 or 20 minutes.
When I began running regularly I couldn't run more than 30 minutes and from there my improvement curve went as follows:
- After six months I had run my first half marathon. Six months later I had improved my half marathon time to 1:20. The next few years I focused on the 1500 and 5k where I took 50 seconds and 2 minutes respectively off what, for me, were already solid times. After five years I was able to run over 150km per week (that's more than a half-marathon per day) and I ran my first marathon in 2 hours 41 minutes-the pace I once could only hold for a few kilometres.
I'm no Peter Snell or John Walker, but, to me, the times themselves don't matter; it's the improvement that's the key. And if you put the work into running, injuries and illness aside, you will get the rewards.
Just like Oprah Winfrey once said, "Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
Some more examples of these rewards came from a recent Stuff article on running where readers commented on their own experiences since taking up the sport. Here are some of their thoughts:
"Running is great for the uncoordinated, non-sporty types. Absolutely anyone can do it." - Lucy
"... most days I'm still trying to get past the 'but I'm too tired' excuse. ... I feel really pumped afterwards and it's great when I put on clothes and they're too big!" - Pixie_Neigh
"Once you get over the initial hump, running is a great pleasure. I've lost 20kg and now I find running really relaxing." - Ubiquitous
"I absolutely HATED running, I couldn't possibly think of a worse exercise but I decided all it would take is some mental toughness and I started running a few kilometres every week. I have now been running 8km 3-4 times per week. I have lost 12kg and feel so much better." - Rsrider
"For me running is the best way to de-stress." - PunkRocks
"I also find running AMAZING. I started just over a year ago so the dog would get more exercise but now she struggles to keep up! Like others, I feel great and have lost 5kg. I've also had fewer sick days and no longer get the afternoon yawns and brain fade that I used to struggle with." - Emketa
I also love this story of a girl in Christchurch who discovered running as a means to deal with the earthquakes. She started with a 30-second jog (yes, 30 seconds, not minutes) and two years on has now run a marathon. She also found an unlikely running buddy in her horse!
Finally, Paul Pollock, from Ireland, is a doctor and a marathon runner who recently announced that he is putting his medical career on hold to pursue his dream of being a professional runner.
On Saturday he came 21st in the World Marathon Champs and here's why he loves running:
I'm always asked how do I run so much; do I not get bored? Through running I've been fortunate enough to see places and meet people I would never have had a chance to otherwise.
From the oxygen deprived heights of Kenya to the rocky beaches of Lanzarote. From being chased by dogs in the Chilean Andes to being cheered at by school kids in Malaysia. From the scorching heat of Melbourne to the snow capped mountains of New Zealand. Running has provided me with memories and friends that I will never forget.
A man once said, "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." Through racing I feel alive. There is no bullsh_t. No time for fake personalities and nowhere to hide.
At some point you will crack: either your body or your mind. You accept that. Just as every other competitor does. And that's what unites you. I have much more respect for a 90-minute 10k runner than someone who is too afraid to try. The key is to try to time it so that the finish line is the point at which you break.
Click here for Hayden's coaching website
- (Live Matches)