Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jen on Why I Run

Hi everyone!  My name is Jen and I have a blog at  Colleen asked me about a month ago if I’d be interested in writing down why I run, to add as a post on her blog.  I wanted to wait to get some better race pictures, but now I have them so this is why I run.
I have never been an athlete or into sports at all.  There are some good genes in my family but I didn’t get any of them.  (My sister did, however, and sports have always come naturally to her.  It makes me jealous sometimes.)

I actually joined the track team when I was about 5 years old.  I did it because my best friend at the time was on the team.  I had no idea what track or running really meant.  And as I was joining, she quit.  I didn’t want to be on the team anymore but my parents said you don’t quit things so I had to stick it out for the rest of the year.  I don’t remember much about that but I did get a ribbon for placing in a relay race.  And I remember watching the mile run and thinking that was so far!

Crossing the finish line of my first 5K in April 2011
I never was into running even after that.  I remember dreading the mile run each year in gym class, and I played tennis in high school and also hated any running associated with that.  We used to try to cheat and run less if our coach wasn’t watching.  My first year of tennis I was so sore for a little while as my body got used to the exercise, especially the running.  My hamstrings and calves were so tight!  But that also helped me learn sometimes you push through the soreness and it actually can feel better faster.

Before I go on, I should say that I don’t really consider myself a “real” runner.  I like to go out there and do it but I’m not even close to being competitive and I haven’t been at this for a full year yet.

I started out running as a way to get some exercise in.  I’ve tried other things before.  I did Body Pump (Les Mills) and loved that but it requires a gym membership and there aren’t any gyms close to me or convenient with my busy schedule to consistently attend the classes and make it worth spending the $.  I have EA Active on Wii but don’t really have enough room in our living room right now to spread out and do it.  I also have an exercise bike at home but I have to drag it out each time I use it.  With running, I just throw on some workout clothes and go.  No pulling out heavy equipment (the treadmill is already there) and if I want to run around the neighborhood I just walk out the door.

Crossing the finish line of my first 5K in April 2011 and approaching the finish line at a 5K a few months later.

I started running late February of 2011.  I started solely on my brand new treadmill (birthday present from my husband) and did the Couch to 5K program.  I was about 8 weeks (out of 10) into the program when I ran my first 5k race.  It was downtown Pittsburgh, in April, and the weather wasn’t that great.  This was also my first time running outside, which might have been stupid.  It was cloudy and rainy, and it was cool enough that the rain was coming down pretty cold.  My husband drove me to the race and honestly if he hadn’t gone with me I would have chickened out.  I was so nervous, too!  I ended up walking twice towards the end but finishing with a time of 31:50 and from that point on I’ve been hooked.  I remember saying over and over to my husband- I just ran 3 miles!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was the person who couldn’t even manage a mile in gym class.

I’ve kept running since then and found more reasons that I do like to run.  I originally did it just to get some exercise in but it has been a lot more enjoyable than I ever realized it would be.  These are some of the reasons why:
  • It can be a great stress reliever.  There are a number of times already that I’ve been feeling either really stressed out or emotional and I put on my running shoes and just go.  It helps me so much!  I pound away my frustration or emotion, and those runs are sometimes faster/longer because my mind is on something else and not the run.
  • It’s a nice way to get outside.  There have been some days where I’ve been running and just enjoyed the scenery and being out in the sunshine.  Even sometimes the “bad” weather is nice.  For example, if it’s a hot day, some rain is a relief because it will cool you down.
  • The races are so fun.  It’s such a good feeling at the end of a race to cross that finish line and continue to try to improve your time.  Actually, I should clarify and say that in general training runs themselves just give me a satisfaction when I’m done.
  • I am a loner and running provides some time by myself when I don’t feel obligated to talk but can think through things as much as I want.  
  • At the same time, though, I’ve really connected by running with some friends.  It’s a chance to really talk, although I admit most of the time I listen.  I’m not really a big talker while running.  But it’s brought me closer to a few people.  I never expected that when I started running.  Some of my best runs are with a friend, talking the time/miles away.
  • Running is an individual sport.  I can be competitive with myself.  I prefer that over team sports.  I always feel bad if I’m bringing a whole team down, and for some reason I am more competitive on my own/against myself.  There is always a new goal to drive for.  
  • I’m an engineer, so yes, I’m a nerd.  And I love crunching numbers.  How many miles did I run this week?  How did it compare to a month ago, six months ago?  What was my pace for this specific run?  What was my fastest .25 mile and my slowest .25 mile?  (I got a Garmin watch for Christmas and that helps so much with tracking all of this!)  Tracking some of this also motivates me and gives me a goal to continuously improve.
I’m sure my list will grow as I keep up the running.  Some of my friends think I’m a little crazy and don’t understand why I run or how I could enjoy it.  I’m not sure if this will help explain it, but I’m surprised myself.  I’m currently training for my first half marathon, and I never would have believed I’d be at this point right now.
About to cross the finish line at Resolution Run


  1. Haha the pictures are backwards- my first 5K I was in the hat and non-running clothes because I didn't realize how awesome wicking shirts/shorts are. :) Thanks Colleen, for letting me have a guest post on here.