Here it is! My first blog post after completing my first year of dental school. The year was long – yet somehow seemed to fly by at the same time. No doubt I learned a ton this year about life, love, and everything in between, but the purpose of today’s post is to share a really exciting experience I recently had – completing a half marathon! This is by far one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and I’m so excited to tell about it!
I’ve never considered myself a “runner.” Heck, I really don’t describe myself as athletic at all. Sure, I participated in my fair share of middle school sports, but I more or less did them for the social aspect. I’ve also completed a 5K and although it was tons of fun, I primarily did it to have a good time with my friends.
My journey to completing this half marathon began when I started working out after class last fall. After sitting in lecture after lecture, and then not wanting to study right after school, I just had to get my body moving, muscles moving, and blood flowing (skeletal muscle pumps anyone?)! After a while, my working out became a habit and a few friends started joining me. Then one day, my friend suggested that we try to run a half marathon. Without even hesitating, I said, “yes!” Sure I knew it would take a lot of work, but honestly my main thought at the time was how cool it would be to say that I ran a half marathon. While I still think it’s cool to be able to say that I ran a half marathon, I think it’s even greater to be able to say everything I learned along the way. So here it is – what I learned from completing a half marathon.
It’s okay to fall off the wagon – just make sure you get back on. When my friend and I began training we had a pretty strict schedule of running days, cross training days, and rest days. We stuck to our training plan for the first month or so, but alas, life and school (mainly school) kept us from training as much as we would have liked. There were often weeks in which we would miss three or four days of training. Initially we would get discouraged, however after a while we realized we were doing the best that we could do. Therefore, if we missed one day, three days, a week, no matter. We just looked at our schedule and picked up where we left off.
Exercise really does help your mind! I know, I know, this one is obvious. I’d always heard that working out boosts your metabolism, helps you lose weight, improves your brain function, blah, blah, blah, but let me say…IT REALLY DOES! I never worked out consistently during college, mostly because I was so worried that I was wasting time by not studying. However, as I said earlier, I started exercising as a much needed break from studying. As the semester progressed, I found that I was actually performing better academically than I had the previous semester (I blame the myokines).
I never regretted exercising. This relates to the previous paragraph quite a bit, but I just want to reinforce that I never regretted going to a work out. Whenever I had a hectic week with tests, quizzes, and projects, I would try to squeeze in a some sort of workout, even if it was only twenty minutes on the elliptical. I always debated going to the gym because it was time that I could have studied, but in the end I was always glad I went!
Exercise is better with a friend. Like I said, it was my friend who initially suggested the half marathon, and I’m so glad she did! We had so much fun training and getting to know each other better. I don’t think I would have had the courage to register without her, and I definitely wouldn’t have had the determination to jog the entire 13.1 miles without her encouragement when I needed it most.
Exercise helped me achieve balance in my life. The most important thing I gained from this half marathon was that it gave me a goal outside of school. Being in professional school, it’s very easy to get caught up in school being the number one goal. Training for this half marathon gave me the opportunity to achieve success in another area of my life, and helped me realize I could achieve more than I ever thought possible. Looking back on this experience, I can’t express enough how happy I am that I pushed myself to complete this goal. I don’t know if I’ll ever do another half marathon, but at least now I know that I can. How about you? How has exercise impacted your life or helped you achieve your goals?
“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.” -Percy Cerutty