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Three ways signing up for a half marathon changed my life

First of all, I am not (and have never aspired to be) a professional athlete. Although physical activity and fitness have always been important to me, anyone who asked me to run a race two years ago would have been met with a laugh and a firm “no!”

It wasn’t until I was entering my first year of post-secondary education when I decided that if I didn’t register for something physically demanding, I would become uncomfortably out of shape. So, after countless calls to gyms and fitness clubs around Victoria, I decided that my schedule could only truly accommodate one activity: running.

Running was the perfect sport. Low maintenance, cost-effective, and could be done at literally any time of day.

Many discussions with my running friends later, I was registered in my city’s “Hypothermic Half Marathon,” and was ready to begin training. Through late rainy nights and blustery winter mornings, training for my first race was an experience that forever changed my work ethic, outlook on life, and so much more!

So, without further ado, here are ten ways registering for my first half marathon changed my life:

1. Time management skills

Some people have a tendency to waste time online, and I was not an exception. Formal work/school commitments aside, my time management skills had been sorely lacking throughout my pre-racing years.

Training, however, forces accountability and time management skills onto a person like nothing else does. The potential of missing the post-race brunch because you didn’t train sufficiently (this, for me, was a legitimate fear) has an incentivizing quality.

2. Commitment

I’ve never been one to have “commitment issues.” That said, while both working and going to school full time, commitment to health and fitness can feel like a daunting and unrealistic goal. Committing to a race changed the way I view my commitment to health and fitness. As many of us know, it can be easy to prioritize professional and scholastic ambitions over our health and wellness. Registering for a half marathon forced me to revisit my commitment to myself. That looked like eating the right foods (see ya later, processed sugar!), prioritizing my sleep, and making sure that no other aspects of life slipped through the cracks.

3. Accountability

With the commitment of a paid-for, well-known race coming up, there was no longer room for procrastination in my life. Initially, this new level of accountability applied only to my training regime. I couldn’t afford to put off training, as it would directly impact the level (or lack thereof) of embarrassment I might feel as a result of running (or even worse, walking) more slowly than necessary on race day. As I began to combat my thoroughly-ingrained habit of procrastination, other aspects of my life began to benefit from my new-found productivity. Suddenly, a wave of ease overcame my perspective on all of the daunting tasks I had previously deemed insurmountable. Here’s the thing: accountability is not circumstantial. Once I learned that the only thing holding me accountable in life was myself, that pesky old procrastination habit disappeared… and it all started with signing up for my first half marathon.

Ultimately, my decision to stay active has led me to a lifelong love of training and fitness, along with some invaluable life lessons.

Do you have to sign up for a half marathon to learn these lessons? NO! For a learning experience similar to mine, all you really need is motivation and willingness to commit to a physical feat you haven’t achieved before. Who knows? You just might find your new favourite pastime in the process!