She’s Going the Distance…But Which Distance and Why?

CAKE, one of my favorite bands when I was a teenager, was just in Chicago last month at a venue called the Salt Shed (great place; highly recommend). One of their most popular songs is called The Distance and it got me thinking about running, and specifically about how new runners choose a race distance goal. Often people want to run for charity, for swag (including some incredible medals), in Walt Disney World, or in a beautiful or unique location. In all these examples there is something that is appealing, fulfilling, or exciting to them and understanding those feelings, the “why”, is an important key to their success. So, when someone asks me “I am not sure how to even get started, should I run a 5K or a 10K?” I always ask them if they have a certain goal or race in mind. Sometimes they do. I have plenty of friends who have dreamt of running a Disney 5K, Princess Half Marathon, or even Dopey Challenge (running a 5K, 10K, half and full marathon over one weekend!) for sentimental and charitable reasons…in other words, they already knew their “why”. But for every person who knows their why, there are plenty of people like you who may not even know where to start. That is where I can help. I can help you find it by getting to know you; what is bringing you to running, or even thinking about running, what do you feel passionately about, and why did you come to this website in the first place. 

Time Is On Your Side…or At Least It Can Be

Those are questions I would ask you today, a month ago I would have asked you if you had time to train, I do not ask anyone that question anymore. Why? Because as people, and women especially, because of our jobs, lives, kids, partners, etc., sometimes we cannot seem to find time for basic selfcare much less time to run two or three plus days a week for multiple weeks. There is always something vying for our time, I stopped asking about it and instead started focusing on all those questions related to you and your goals. Why do you want to do this? Does it seem like fun, and why? Do you have a charity or cause that is important to you? Ultimately, is running in an event, losing weight, or any other goal important enough that you will find time for proper training so that they can be successful without injury?

I also stopped asking about time because we all know that we always have time to do the things we want to do. Want to watch that series you love on Netflix from the beginning again? You will find the time. Want to try that new restaurant downtown? You will find the time. Want to see a band you loved as a teenager? You will find time. You will make it happen. You make things happen every day because you prioritize those things. Now is the time to prioritize you and your goals. So once you find a goal that is important enough for you to prioritize your time, the distance question becomes a bit easier.  Have a 5K in Las Vegas on your bucket list? That takes approximately 8 weeks of training. Is that 5K fun enough, exciting enough, important enough to you to prioritize the next 8 weeks? Once the answer is yes, you have your distance and your why and then the real journey begins. 

How and why did I decide on a marathon as one of my first races?

When I decided I wanted to run the 2023 Chicago marathon I only knew three things about it…it was 26.2 miles, it was in Chicago, and it was a challenge with distinction (according to roughly 0.01% of the world’s population completes a marathon each year). I was not a runner, I had never truly been a runner. Not in high school, not in college, not to catch the train to work. Nothing. For me, it was a challenge, and, like everyone, I already knew a lot about challenges. By that point in my life, at 42 years old, I had lost both my parents, my sister to cancer, my childhood home to a fire, a job I enjoyed through a series of layoffs, and any number of romantic relationships over the years. I had lost a lot and the only thing I actually seemed to be good at gaining was weight; I had gained over 50 pounds in less than a year and when April 2023 rolled around, I was unemployed, overweight, and looking for a way up. It was time for a change…it was time to focus on me, but I had no idea what that meant or how to do it…and then I learned that a major marathon takes place in Chicago every October…and there it was, a challenge, one that I was choosing to take on, not one that was outside of my control, and I set out to sign up. But how?

Running for a Cause.

It turns out there is a whole process to enter a world major marathon, who knew? Apparently, a lot of people except me.  There are entries and applications, and everything has a deadline…and I had missed all of them, but I was determined. I knew there must be a way to participate, there had to be, I needed there to be. This is when I learned about charity bibs, or entry to an event. There are 100s of charities that will provide you with a bib if you agree to and meet a fundraising amount. So if you want to participate in an event that is sold out (Disney I’m looking at you), or deadlines have come and gone I recommend looking into charities. In order for me to have a chance to participate in the 2023 Chicago Marathon I was going to need to find a charity so I set out to review a long list of possibilities and then I found one…The American Cancer Society (ACS). I had heard of the ACS but had never taken the time to research the mission. My sister had passed from a battle with lung cancer in 2015 and when I came across the ACS it felt like a perfect match. This wasn’t just a way to participate and get a bib, this was a way to run in memory of my sister and raise money to help others in their cancer journey.

Its About You and Your Goals

Testing my abilities and endurance, both mentally and physically, to raise money for ACS and to become a member of a very exclusive club was important to me, it felt exciting, and it gave me a goal. It was for me. It was my goal. Training time became my time and it was a lot of time. A marathon takes approximately 20 weeks to properly train for and all of those weeks include multi-hour runs.  Of course I still gave hours to work, family, friends, and other hobbies but my race training days were mine completely and it was helping to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It became self-care with a purpose. Your goal is yours…its personal and when its personal its important. Achieving a running goal is far less about choosing a distance and far more about your goal and the time commitment needed for proper training.

Have a running goal in mind? Don’t know where or how to start? I’m Here for You. 

Understanding your goals and why you have those goals is the most important aspect of coaching and its why I started the site. I am here to answer your questions, provide advice, and ultimately help you get started running or accomplish a specific race goal. 

Come back soon to hear about my time exploring 29 neighborhoods in 26.2 miles, A.K.A the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Until then remember…You can do this…You Can Run.