"Hi, I'm Sarah and I like to run long distances." This is a phrase I thought I'd never say. And still to this day I can't believe it’s true! You see, I was never a natural runner. I used to stare at others in disbelief when they told me hitting the pavement for hours on end was fun for them. I never believed them. Until I did…
Below, I'll detail my story of running, how I went from hating it and never doing it, to enjoying it and signing up for six marathons (!) in the process. And who knows, if my unconventional path in the sport led me to love it, maybe it could for you, too!
Why I Hated Running
My aversion to long-distance cardio dates back to "mile day" in grade school gym. Twice a year, our gym teacher would line us up outside and have us embark on a timed, mile-long run. I hated this day, mostly for the uncomfortable feeling I'd get in my chest — and my legs — from booking it around the perimeter of the school without any endurance, or good running shoes, to my name. It was painful and it truly felt like a never-ending endeavor as I'd go. So I certainly couldn't understand why someone would want to do more than one mile — especially for fun.
Looking back, I can now see that no one had given me the tools (including proper equipment, nutrition and training) on how to actually make running enjoyable. So until that point came, any time someone would say "let's go for a jog," I'd think back to that feeling where my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and say "no thanks!"
How I Ended Up Liking Running
Fast-forward to college when a new friend of mine dared me to sign-up for a half marathon. In my mind, running three miles, yet alone 13.1, felt like an impossible task. But chalk it up to me being in a daring mood at the time, or that fact that I really wanted to impress her, and I agreed. "I'll probably walk most of it and complain most of the time," I told her. But I surprised myself with how wrong I was. Here's why:
I discovered a really good training plan. I invested in some quality gear. I found myself gradually building up from one to two miles to four to five. I was getting stronger, feeling better and building endurance. And because of this, I began to enjoy those moments on the trail — taking in the scenery and falling in pace with the beat of my music. In those moments, I felt unstoppable.
However, what really sealed the deal for me on why I loved to run was race day. Running the furthest I had in my life (13.1 miles) alongside other athletes and cheering fans brought out this rush of excitement and camaraderie was addicting. It didn’t matter that I finished close to the end of the pack, or that I did have to walk a few times. I crossed the finish line and the applause and medal around my neck had me hooked to do it again.
The Running Products That Made Me Enjoy Running
It's safe to say this feeling, alongside a well-thought-out training plan, is what kept me coming back to the track. So much so, I'd end up completing six marathons around the country. I credit much of this transformation to many of the below things.
After a stint with shin splints (and some pretty rough blisters), I quickly discovered that the old sneakers in my closet weren't going to cut it. So, I went to a running store and got fit for a pair of running shoes perfectly tailored to me. (My faves? The Brooks Levitate 5 for the support and springiness they give!) These made all the difference in my comfort while hitting the pavement.
An Upbeat Playlist
When I'm hitting a wall, I need a good song to carry me through, particularly one with a quick tempo. Spotify has a variety of pre-curated BPM (beats per minute) playlists based on the pace you like to jog at. Here are a few good ones to get you started.
Proper Pre-Run Fuel
I can tell a noticeable difference in how well my runs will go based on what I ate before I headed out the door. I personally love Vital Performance™ PRE ($35.99; shop now), an NSF Certified for Sport® powdered pre-workout supplement that provides a unique combination of collagen and purpose-driven ingredients that support focus, energy and power output designed to help boost pre-workout energy and stamina and promote athletic longevity.**
I pair this supplement with some water and a banana, and I'm in good shape for all my miles to come. (Note: On longer milage days, I always bring gels to consume every 5-7 miles.)
An Accountability App
I love Nike Run+. This is the easiest way to track my runs — as well as get some extra motivation from other runners out there.
Comfortable, Cute Clothing
Maybe it's just me, but cute athletic outfits always make me more inclined to get moving.
A Post-Run Reward
This is something that doesn't get enough love. In my opinion, when the minutes or miles seem long, it's important to have something feel-good to come home to to encourage you to want to keep going back for more. During the fall running months, I love lighting this cozy Yankee Candle, taking an epsom bath (complete with lavender essential oils!) or slipping into my coziest sweats after a workout.
An "I Don't Need To Be The Fastest One" Attitude
Okay, this isn't a product, per se. However, understanding that running isn't about speed, rather that it's a long game to build endurance and improve your fitness will save you some frustration. In fact, that's what I like most about distance running, it's not about the speed, but it’s how long you can keep going (even when others have ended).
And that's it! If you’re feeling like you need some extra motivation to go out for a run, join our Vital Run Club!
Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.