As part of my blog I (MM) believe it’s important to share common and similar experiences. I’d like to introduce you to Mayling (ML) who talks about the positive impact running has had in her life.
MM: What got you into running and then starting your Instagram profile?
ML: I started running in June of 2015 as I was curious about running. The last time I really ran was back in highschool PE, which was a horrible experience. I was not particularly athletic growing up, and never saw myself as “sporty”. I didn’t know I had it in me to be a runner, but I wanted to see for some reason. I walked to the track near my house, and did a couple laps. It wasn’t easy, but it felt amazing. There was an older man probably in his 80s out lapping me, and for some reason the competitive side in me came out and I wanted to get better, and beat him. I loved the challenge, not really against anyone else but for myself. I had started working out in January in my gym, but I hated the feeling of being inside. It was stuffy, sometimes crowded, and boring. And to be honest I had some pretty strange neighbours! Running was so different! I felt so free, and I think I experienced that “runner’s high” right away. It was love at first run.
A friend of mine was into running, and was trying to get me to run for years, but I always said no, and came up with some excuse. He got me to download Runkeeper on my phone, and that sparked something in me. I had started running alone, and it was a huge motivator for me to see my progress. A few weeks later I was asking myself why I was walking to the track (about 1.5k), when I could just run there, which I did. I soon after signed up for my first 10k race in September due to the prodding of this same friend. I’ve never run in the rain before that day, and it was torrential downpour! It was too late to back out as I had already paid, so I just went with it. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. On that day I knew there was no turning back.
I created my Instagram in December because I realized I was going to bore my regular friends with my endless running posts. I had no idea there was such a community here, and it has played a huge part in my journey as a runner, from training for and running my first half marathon to coping with my first (minor) setback. It has kept me motivated knowing that I am part of such an awesome community of regular people doing amazing things. We feed off each other’s energy.
MM: Looking at the psychology of running, what drives you?
ML: Running is so rewarding. You do not have to be an elite athlete to run. Although I do enjoy my races, I run almost every day now because simply “not running sucks”. Our ability to enjoy fresh air and feel alive is something we often take for granted, and there is no other way to describe running other than the fact that it is my “happy place”. I may not have solved all my problems running, but it has helped me cope with so much. It is meditation of the best kind, and good for the soul.
MM: Based on your own experiences, how can running benefit an individual?
ML: I have only been running a year, and I have never been so fit in my life. Some people start running to lose weight, and it is one of the best ways to do it. There are many people who will tell you running is bad for you, but after having tried it I would say it is the most amazing part of my fitness routine. I never dread it like I do other things, and I do not have to wait for the right time or person to do it. Although it is not easy in the beginning, our bodies are amazing machines, and running has shown me how we are all capable of taking control of our own mental and physical health. We need to take care of the most important person in our life, and that is ourselves.
MM: From completing several half marathons, what advice would you give someone who would want to start thinking about running a half marathon?
ML: I had started running in June, and I completed my first half marathon in May. I didn’t follow any training plans, nor did I join any running groups. If you asked me in June of 2015 or even in September when I ran my first race (10k), a half marathon seemed like a daunting thing. I simply ran a lot, and started a lunch hour run regime (5k) in July. I ran my first long run (22k) on December 26th, 2015, and I will never forget that day. I knew, then, that I was ready, and I spent the next few months working on my endurance and speed with consistent running. My goal was a Sub 2 since I was close, and I ran my first half in 1:56. You don’t need to be the fastest to run a half marathon, but for me it was a huge confidence booster knowing I had that distance under my belt before I had signed up. 21k has become my favourite distance now, because it is challenging enough, and yet something a new runner can aim for. I did my second half marathon in June, and plan on a couple more this year. It is exciting to have a goal and to work towards that. My only advice is to believe in yourself and just go for it, I will never forget my first half!
MM: From your own experiences, what tips would you give to people, new to running about coping with injuries?
ML: I experienced my first injury in May a week after running my first half marathon. I felt super confident, and my legs felt great, so great I ran another 20k two days later, and ran over 60km that week despite the fact I had never run that kind of milage before. I woke up on Saturday and I couldn’t even walk without severe pain in my ankle. I went to see a physiotherapist right away on Monday, and luckily for me I was able to run again after a week. It was the longest week in my entire life! The hardest part was mental, not running on an injured ankle, losing confidence in my ability to run again, and coping with the loss of something that had become a regular part of my life. I was lucky to be part of this community where I got a lot of support and advice. Your blog here helped me a lot as you talk about our own personal experience and how you coped. It is a lot easier coping with an injury when you have good support and know that you are not alone. Injuries are inevitable the more you run, but you just learn from it, move on, and grow stronger mentally and physically as a result.
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