Train, Run, Scream Like A Banshee, And Other Lessons I Learned Running My First 5K.

This is another guest post by Matthew Williamson, my Chief of Staff for the The EDGY Empire. He's a sharp dude -- and he practices the #1 rule of Waldschmidtland: "Don't Be Lazy...". He's an accounting graduate with a good sense of business and all things EDGY.  Here's Matt:

-----

I had finally made it to the home stretch, and I took off sprinting for the end, desperate to scoot under a 22:20 time…

Let's start at the beginning.

Two months ago today, I laced up a beat-up, old pair of Nikes and ran 1.76 miles, my first concerted attempt at regular exercise in two years. Despite playing volleyball on Tuesdays, I knew I needed to get more exercise. Since I’m too cheap to pay for a gym membership, running was really my only option.

One problem: I hated running. I never saw the point since you always return to the same spot.

But I changed my mindset. Instead of saying, “I can’t miss workouts” I started thinking that “I don’t miss runs” (an idea I learned from James Clear), which made all the difference.

Shortly after I started, I set my sights on Blake’s Run that took place this past Saturday. When I first considered doing a 5K, 3.11 miles might as well have been 311.

I’d never run farther than 2.25 miles, so I made my goal just to complete a 5K. I started “training” by running .25 miles further each week, but I quickly realized that wouldn’t cut it. About that time, I also learned that Blake’s Run had prizes, so the goal immediately shifted to winning one.

That’s all I wanted. I had no idea what the prizes were. I just knew I wanted one. So I took my training to the next level.

Lesson #1: Invest in your success. No one else will.

I hired a certified trainer. We formulated a strict training regimen, that I followed exactly (I’m hyper-literal).

Even on Thursdays, when I don’t get home until 15 minutes before I usually go to bed, I laced up those Nikes and hit the pavement. I even bought protein shakes to drink after every run.

But it wasn’t just a monetary investment that I chose to make. I’ve invested hours upon hours running, talking with other runners, and just trying to learn everything I can to up my game.

Lesson #2: Big goals demand a radical change.

Running affected everything I did. I made time to run, even when I didn’t feel like it. I completely shifted my mindset where I viewed even something as "mundane" as food different.

I ate healthier. I passed on free desserts because they could slow me down. In my spare time, I envisioned race day and what it would be like. That race became what I daydreamed about. I became a different person when I set out to do my first 5K.

I also radically altered my running form, taking shorter strides at a quicker pace, which vastly boosted my 5K time during training. It felt counterintuitive, and even unnatural at first, but I can't argue with the results.

Lesson #3: Change is painful. Run through the pain.

I started suffering from shin splints 3 weeks before the race, but there was no time to try to rest and recover, so I had to run through the pain.

I’d come back from a training run, whimpering while both shins were wrapped in ice. Some told me to quit. Take a week off and let them heal. It supposedly wouldn’t have affected my time “that much” anyways.

Nope. I kept training. My goal ultimately shifted to winning 1st overall, and I knew I needed to keep running if that was going to happen.

Lesson #4: Never give up. You’ll always wonder what you could’ve done.

When the gun went off, I started out with front of the pack, but slowly drifted away from the leaders. I started to get passed, initially by an older gentleman (who’d win 1st overall), before others overtook me.

Only  a half-mile in, a 12-year old kid passed me. A kid. I tried to keep up, and I stayed with him for a couple dozen feet, but my mind gave out, and I convinced myself I would never be able to pass him, particularly since he was passing me this early, so there was no point in trying.

I’ll always wonder if I could’ve passed more people if I had stayed with him (or someone else).

Every time I fell behind, a little part of me died inside. There’s a deeply personal sense of defeat knowing you’ve been beaten by someone better than you as you see them pull away.

I probably could've pushed harder, but I’ll never know for sure.

Lesson #5: Get a support network. Invest in them while they invest in you.

This was an incredible performance boost. As I ran the last half-mile, I started reflecting on the race, since nobody was close enough to either pass or pass me.

I started to get down, thinking of all the people that passed me and how I should’ve kept up. As I turned towards the last quarter-mile, I saw my aunt, who had encouraged me to do Blake’s Run, standing at the entrance to the track to direct people. At that moment, my spirits soared. I saw her smiling from a distance and turned on the afterburners to push home.

That track was “home turf” for me. It’s where I do my speed training. I burst onto the track, rounded the corner near the entrance and erupted with “TRY MORE” to carry myself to the end.

I had finally made it to the home stretch, and I took off sprinting for the end, desperate to scoot under a 22:20 time. As I crossed the finish line, still going full tilt, I veered to the right just in time to avoid smashing into the photographer, who was at least 10-15 feet past the finish line. When I was done, my heart, lungs, and shins were blaring warning sirens of imminent collapse (or so it felt), but I finished.

I finished strong.

I finished with an official race time of 22:19.4, crushing my personal best. I didn’t win 1st overall, but I placed 2nd in my age group and finished in the top 10.

All because I took the first step. And then the next. And then the next.

What's that next step for you?

 -----

Matt's on LinkedIn here & Twitter here, where he relays his adventures in Dallas, TX using #MattDoesDallas. He's here guarding the details for us each day. Which is pretty damn awesome. Pick up your sword. Go find your dragon to slay.