Saturday, January 23, 2010

Taking the big step: registering for the race

Personal trainers will tell you that the hardest part of getting into an exercise routine is getting that first workout under your belt.

I won't disagree with that notion. It takes a lot of effort to change your habits and talk your body into a new routine. The first time exercising after a long relapse can be about as fun as pulling teeth for even the most seasoned of workout junkies.

However, allow me to introduce a close second on the difficulty scale for getting into a workout routine: signing up for that tough race.

The race doesn't have to be anything special. It can be a 2-mile run, a 5K, a mini triathlon, a wheel chair race, a crab walk race, whatever. All that matters is that it's a race that will challenge your abilities and force you to train for it to some degree. That way, by signing up for it, you're setting a goal to shoot for and pushing yourself beyond your comfort level to reach that goal.

Registering for a race is a huge step. It means that you've committed yourself financially to that race and feel almost obligated to get in shape for it as a result of that commitment. Nobody wants to spend money on something to give a half-hearted effort, right?

Anyone can talk about running a race, but very few actually follow through with it. The reasons for for a person backing out of it endless. Maybe they can't find a friend to train with or run the race with. Maybe they just don't have the time for it. Maybe they don't want to put their body through the abuse. Maybe they'd rather spend their money on something else.

Whatever the case, consider yourself in the minority if you actually work up the ambition to sign up for a race. By signing up, you've pushed yourself beyond the talking phase and are one step closer to actually competing in the race.

I bring this up because yesterday, after spending the last three months training and the last several weeks talking myself into it, I finally registered for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, thus committing $90 of my own money to run a 26.2 mile race this summer.

"Do I really want to put myself through this again?" I thought to myself. "Wasn't one marathon enough? It took a week to walk normally after the first one for God sakes!"

I literally spent an hour contemplating this while staring at the registration Web page of Grandma's. Heck, it took me two weeks just to work up the courage to LOOK at the registration page. I've ran my fair share of races, but I still get weak in the knees when I think about running a full marathon.

My first marathon went well, but it challenged me physically and mentally in a way that I'd never been challenged before. It exhausted me in all ways possible. It was as if my brain had just gone through college finals week and my legs had just been run over by a bus.

Alas, the ambitious side of me (or masochistic side, depending on your interpretation) won over and I signed myself up for another five months of long runs, ice packs and Ibuprofen. But it'll all be worth it when I cross the finish line on the North Shore, find my friends and go out and celebrate a race well-ran.

I'd say that's a good use of $90.

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