I was never a runner. In fact, I kind of despised running—especially since my high school soccer coach used it as punishment. As an adult, however, I've come to love it so much I've completed five marathons.
But after Hurricane Sandy put the kibosh on last year's New York City Marathon, I fell off track. Though I stayed active, for four months I never ran. Now I'm training again to run the marathon this November, and dealing with body aches and slooow runs. Yet I know I won't quit, because I've found that the sucky days are the ones that make you better. Thinking of running a race, too? Here are a few other things I've learned along the way.
Training is a bit scary
I can't lie. The training is grueling. Four. Long. Months. But at some point—for me, it's after the first month—you hit your stride. And before you know it, you're a week out from the big day.
Commitment is key
You can't BS your way through training. Believe me, I tried once. I figured if I did my long runs I'd be OK. The problem: Training is like a ladder. Each rung prepares your body for the next, so skipping just one step weakens your foundation, making those 15- and 20-milers—and ultimately the big 26.2—tougher. My advice: Stick to a schedule. I run after work, though life can get in the way. Sometimes I've had to get up at dawn (wearing running clothes to bed helps!).
Find what fuels you
Sure, I love my shrinking waistline and toned thighs. But the real reason I run is it's a total stress buster. When my granny died two years ago, the first thing I did was lace up my sneakers. There was something about falling into the rhythm of the run that soothed me and helped me wrap my mind around my grief. I ran my 2011 marathon in her honor.
You'll surprise yourself
Some days, self-doubt tells me I won't succeed. It's then I have to remind myself: No one ran those miles for me. I pushed my body and found my way to the finish line. So much of running is mental (I can forge ahead!). You are showing yourself that you can do what less than 1 percent of the population can do. How's that for an ego boost?