by James Lensing
Hi, I’m James. While I am new to blogging, I am not new to running. I ran my first road race in 2010. Since then, I have completed over 60 races (I know what you’re thinking– that’s a lot of t-shirts, and yes, it is) including 5K’s, 4-miler’s, 8K’s, 5-miler’s, 10K’s, 12K’s, 10-miler’s, 20K’s, relays, half marathons, and a virtual marathon.
Just for some context, I am not a podium runner. Some races I can get close though. Either way, I enjoy the positivity surrounding the racing environment and competing against myself to be better. See, I used to be a fair-weather runner and a seasonal runner, depending on where I was living at the time. Living in Iowa, my running season used to be March to October. In Arizona, it was October to March.
When I hit my mid 30’s and noticed my metabolism wasn’t working as well as it once had, I decided my seasonal running plan needed some revision. So I started in January 2019 from scratch, carrying extra weight and an 11 to 12-minute mile pace, determined to stick with it year-round. I set some goals, stayed consistent with running 4 times a week, and tracked my progress. I ended the year with 839 miles.
To challenge myself in 2020, I set the goal to reach 1000 miles and ended up at 1,150. In 2021, I set my goal of running 1000 miles and biking 500 miles. Currently, I am on pace to run 1500 miles.
I am currently running better than I ever have. Since 2019, running has changed from a workout or a chore to something I look forward to. In fact, if I go a few days without it, I start to get a little antsy, and I can tell it is time to get out and go for a run.
I want to share with you some benefits, advice, and tips I have picked up along the way, including:
● Your support system matters. Having people in your corner to keep you accountable, check in and train with is very helpful. It could be your partner, friends, kids, family, co-workers, or local running groups.
● Every day is different. Not all runs will be great, but they are getting you outside, and you are still moving forward.
● Listen to your body and rest when you feel it is needed.
● Run without a watch once in a while and go with what feels good.
● Try new trails for a change of scenery.
● Track your runs; it’s a good way to see an overview of your progress. I run with a Garmin; however, I still have a running journal to write down some details about each run. (i.e., temperature, wind, how I’m feeling, heart rate.)
● If you feel stuck and need a win, try signing up for a race distance you haven’t completed yet for an automatic PR.
● Sign up for a race that you would like to complete and share your goal with your people.
● Shoes do matter.
● It is tolerable to run in the winter with the right layers. Covid-19 taught me this.
● There are mental barriers that come with certain distances, and that’s a good time to utilize a training partner.
● If you have a busy week, spend some time on Sunday to plan out when you can get out and run.
● I find success in using a program so I can check off the completed runs.
● Write out your goals and place them somewhere you will see them often.
● Running is one thing that you will get out of it what you put into it.
● Find some mantras that resonate, and use them to get through the tough runs.
● Mentally preparing for your long runs and races goes a long way.
This year I have registered for a few races, and there might be some more that come up along the way. The ultimate goal is to complete my first in-person marathon. I wasn’t sure if I would run another marathon… last year; I lost steam and interest when Grandma’s Marathon moved to virtual, which resulted in me straying from the training plan and long runs. I completed the virtual race to see if I could run the full 26.2.
This year I’m signed up for the IMT Des Moines Marathon, and I plan to carry forward what I learned from my last experience. I plan to set a race pace goal and hit my long runs by utilizing the IMT Des Moines Marathon training program, which starts the week of May 31st.
See you on the trails!