One thing I did this summer was run. I started with a just-over-30 minute 5K in June, ran a just-under-30 minute 5K in July, and finished with a half marathon in November. I still don't feel like a runner, but with three races in just a few months and a mapmyrun statistic of over 400 miles run, maybe I am a runner after all. Here's what I learned this year (for what I learned last year, see here).
1) Training takes time. I was underprepared for the half marathon, and after this experience I am quite sure I do not have time to train for a marathon.
2) But then, I don't think I ever want to run a marathon. Maybe I could do it...maybe...but 13.1 miles is farther than it sounds. I have a new respect for marathoners, especially those with young children.
3) That said, anyone with a reasonable degree of health can run a half marathon. If I can do it, anyone can. It can even be done with less than the recommended training. I got an injury during the last six weeks of training and really fell off the schedule (plus, it was cold and dark in October!). And during the race my knee quit at mile 12 and I absolutely could not run after that point. An ignominious ending, but at least I hobbled my way to the finish line and got my medal. And I finished before 700 other people who ran the same race!
4) Race day really is fun. The excitement, the camaraderie with other runners, the cheering crowds even for those who limp across the finish line like I did are all very inspiring. You should try it!
5) The other great thing about races is that you are motivated to do your best. I was averaging under 10-minute miles for the first five miles, which is faster than I usually can do for five miles in a row. When everyone else is running, you don't stop to walk. If I ever run a half marathon again, I hope that I can complete the full training (no silly injuries) and run it closer or even under 2:15.
6) Two days after my race the soreness has worn off, the disappointment over limping the last mile when everyone else was running to the finish has faded, and I think to myself, I ran a half marathon. That was something. Yes, almost anyone can do it, but not everyone does.
Here I am at the finish line, grimacing in pain. By the time we got home I almost could not walk.