By Jennifer Jura
Finishing my first 10 miler was an undescribable feeling. I had never run more than 5 miles in my life, so to push my body pass my physical comfort zone was very fulfilling for me. Training for a 10-miler gave me a great fitness goal and created a sense of discipline and structure that I have been lacking since graduating from college and leaving behind organized athletics. I previously never thought of myself as a “runner.” I still struggle with identifying myself as such, but I am becoming more accustomed to my new found desire to just get up and go for a long run.
My inspiration to compete in a 10-mile race came from my friend who was looking for a partner to train with. She was not extremely physically active and wanted to give herself a goal that would push her to get healthy. She asked me if I would be interested, and I thought why not. It would be a challenge, and I definitely thought that if she could do than why can’t I. She confided in me that I was her inspiration through the process by helping her to keep pushing herself. In the end we wound up being each other’s inspirations. I had already been training with Walter for about two months when I decided to run the 10-miler. After talking with Walter, he geared my workouts to help maximize my exercises. In addition to pushing me in the workouts, he checked in with me to make sure that I was sticking to my running plan as well as eating more healthy so that I could perform at my best. Walter helped to bring the structure and discipline to my workouts that is vitally important when trying to complete a fitness goal.
My advice to any one that hates running is that if I can run a 10-miler, you can run a 10-miler!!! As cheesy as that sounds, it is very true. First off, you can ask my parents about how much I hated running. When I mentioned that I was going to run a 10-miler, my dad definitely thought that I was joking, but now him and my mother are my biggest fans. I never thought that I could be a runner. Runners to me were lean, slender, and a little intimidating. I never saw myself as that hard core or in shape, especially since I left college and athletic competition.
My advice to others who desire to run is start small and build. My friend and I started with a 20-minute run the first time, and slowly over 4 months built up to 10-miles. So start small. Second, pick a place to run that excites you. I started running on the National Mall which is such a great place, not only do you have natural landmarks, but it is just an amazing feeling to be running among the monuments and in the pulse of the city. However, I now love to try new trails and see other parts of the city. Breaking through is probably the hardest thing. There were definitely set-backs. There were days that I didn’t want to run, and developed injuries to push through. But once I realized that if I see myself as a runner, than I am a runner and that I can run any distance I want. Once I started talking about running, I discovered that many of my friends were also training for their own goals. One of my friends just ran her first 5k, another runs a couple half-marathons a year. It became a world that I was part of, one that has people of all different levels and reasons for why they run. The great thing about running is that for me it is a very personal thing. I am not out there competing against anyone but myself everytime. My next long term goal is to run another 10-miler, but in the mean time I am going to train for smaller distances and try and help a friend who has never run find her inner runner.