When our Fitness editor told me that I’d be running a 5K as a guest of the Tone It Up Retreat in Newport Beach, CA, several thoughts ran through my head after some initial laughter. Is it safe to run my first 5K without any training or preparation? Could I do it? Would I survive?
As someone who can barely walk home without panting, it was hard not to freak out a little. My friends’ and family’s responses went something like, “Oh, I don’t know, man.” The support was unreal.
Aside from a (sometimes) weekly dance class, I generally identify myself as a pretty inactive person. The last time I had competitively run a mile was in 8th grade PE ¡ª the last time I ran three miles? Oh, never. The running shoes I had purchased a month earlier for “motivation” barely left their box just the weekend before, and I could hardly call that a run. But I was so excited about this last-minute trip that I welcomed anything that was asked of me, including this 5K.
Fast-forward to the morning of when my nerves were stretching with me. Here I was, surrounded by 400 Tone It Up women, standing in my running shoes that had yet to be broken in.
Then, the shot was fired.
I started off slow, real slow. Ten minutes in, I was almost done with my first lap of four but my shins began to badly burn. Listening to Drake helped me push through to lap two when I thought, “OK, this isn’t bad. I got this.” But soon after, a fear of “Holy sh*t, I may not make it” quickly took over.
I tried to keep focused on the lyrics and my breathing, and it didn’t hurt that this was a Ros¨¦ 5K with some bubbly waiting for us at the finish line. Half an hour in and I was on my final lap. Minus a couple 10-second walk breaks, I had maintained a steady pace the entire time and this, my friends, blew my freaking mind. As I approached the end, I surprisingly felt energized enough to pick up the pace so I decided to go full speed to the finish line. Yes, there were many girls who had finished long before I had, but I ended my very first 5K at 37 minutes, and hey, I felt pretty damn good for pushing through.
My first 5K made me realize that my fitness potential was completely hindered by how I viewed running. Since then, I’ve become more open-minded to fitness in general and less fearful of pushing my body. My new perspective has inspired me to continue to explore my physical limits and to even consider signing up for another 5K or even a 10K! But after some actual preparation next time around, of course.
In the meantime, here’s seven things I learned from my first experience.
- Go at your own pace: As badly as I wanted to keep up with some of the runners, I knew I’d burn out quick if I tried. Instead, I kept slow, light steps throughout.A good playlist is everything: If it weren’t for the help of Drake and Queen Bey, I’m really not sure if I could’ve made it on my own.It’s OK to walk: There were many women who were killing it, but there were plenty of others who walked the race, too. Regardless of what anyone else is doing, just focus on what your body is capable of.Only take sips of water: While the sun was beating down hard on us, I had to resist the urge to gulp down. I took only enough sips to get me through each lap to prevent cramps from slowing me down.Nothing gets a girl running like Ros¨¦: No, seriously, you should’ve seen some of these runners go. Why every race doesn’t end with some is my question.It’s all mental: I had the wrong outlook coming into the race, first of all. I already set myself up for failure based on what I thought I knew about my body. Especially feeling intimidated by the more experienced women around me, it was easy to get dissuaded. But self-encouragement can really make all the difference.You might surprise yourself: I definitely did. I was either going to embarrass or impress myself and thankfully, it was the latter. You really don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.
Image Source: Tone It Up