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Sep 14, 2021

Going the Distance…

When I first started running, I had no desire to run more than three miles. Running a 5K without stopping was my singular focus, and I didn’t allow myself to think beyond that distance. Partly because I thought people who did were somehow super human or somewhat insane, but mostly because I didn’t believe that I actually could. Self-doubt is real and will rear its ugly head at the most opportune times to help make the case of why we can’t and why we shouldn’t do something, even when it comes to running.

So, as fall approaches and the fall race season registrations are upon us, and we cautiously, yet optimistically began to add events to our race calendars, some of us are contemplating, even questioning whether we can do the miles we aspire to do—be it a 1K, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon or beyond. But we all know the answer is yes, and here are a few tips to help you with the training you need to go the distance you want.

Just Start
As cliché and as simple as this sounds, you truly just need to start—start walking, jogging or running, whatever your pace. Start showing up for yourself and start showing up to your local Black Girls RUN! group runs (instead of just stalking their Facebook page). We’ve all done it— we’ve convinced ourselves that we will start next week or next month or when the weather warms up or when the weather cools down, but time seems to be the only thing moving because we certainly aren’t. Just start.

Don’t Underestimate Your Abilities
Don’t tell yourself you can’t do something you’ve never even tried to do or just because you’ve never done it before. Here’s another cliché—talk is cheap, especially negative self-talk. So, get rid of it as it doesn’t serve you and will only sideline you. We are stronger—physically and mentally—than we often think we are. Listen to your body, yes, but don’t limit yourself, or, if you’re anything like me, be so hard on yourself. Consistency and certitude will take you where you want to go.

Track Your Training
Use a fitness app or good old-fashioned pen and paper to track your progress. When you don’t feel as if you’re making strides, referring back to your tracker makes your results tangible. Tracking your training also provides self-accountability and helps you gain the momentum to keep going. And, it will give you a visual reminder that it’s time to get moving if you let too many days lapse between your runs. Additionally, most apps offer training plans that help you stay the course.

Appreciate Your Fan Club
Your community—be it your family, friends or fellow sole sisters—will support you and cheer you on. So let them, even when you feel as if your progress and performance aren’t cheer-worthy, because they are. You already have the will, now just execute the way. Relying on your tribe can give you that extra edge and energy to get you through your training and across the finish line. Now is not the time to go it alone, and we all (even if virtually) can benefit from the motivation of others.

Enjoy the Journey
If training begins to feel more like a chore, than a welcomed choice, mix it up by cross training and incorporating other activities. Opting for a swim, hike or bootcamp and signing up for a spin, yoga or Zumba class are great additions to your training plan and can stave off boredom. They will work some of the same muscles as running, as well as use other muscle groups that will aid your body in building strength and stamina. Also, focus on the rewards—like the bling waiting for you on the other side of the finish line or the rush you experience from endorphins after your runs. But keep in mind, few things can suck the life out of a training plan and make you rethink your entire reason for running quicker than pain. Ensuring you have properly fitted footwear and proper form will minimize your risk to injures and maximize your results.

As much as I hate to see summer come to an end, I am relishing my training and thoroughly looking forward to my fall race schedule. And you should too. So just start! “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”—Lao Tzu

By: Joy Harrell @joyrunsrealestate

Joy Harrell is a licensed real estate agent and co-owner of The Sift Sisters bakery based in Houston, Texas. She is a native Houstonian and graduate of the University of Houston—go Coogs! When she is not helping people buy, sell or invest in real estate, she can be found hanging or traveling with her hubby, running or biking the streets and trails in and around Houston, mentoring girls or testing new food and cocktail recipes.