Spring Training perspective from a former beginner

This is a blog by Cat Nowinski.

Cat is now assisting with coaching the 0-5K group.

Spring Training 2015 started on Monday March 2nd. I did my first spring training 4 years ago in 2012 and although I had been “running” I really had no clue what I was doing. I had only started a few months back on a treadmill at a gym in the middle of the night so no one would see me. I really thought all running included was to put on sneakers and go and run. I was doing the couch to 5K program which was a tough, literally my first day of it I lasted 30 seconds but something in me clicked and I fell in love with the sport. Though I was running I still felt lost because there was so much to learn and I still felt like an outsider to a sport that I so wanted to fit in to. So I joined the USA Fit Galveston Spring Training program. I was so nervous showing up there. I knew nothing about what to wear, whether I was wearing the right shoes, or if I was even running “right”. When they started talking about form I was lost…”there’s a form to running, who knew?” Since I had already completed one 5K (literally one which some may not even call “running”, I was hooked) and a half (by the grace of god I finished that half but still didn’t think it gave me credibility as a runner) I was placed in the 5-10K group. I fought that to be in the beginner group but Kim, the coach and organizer, refused to let me; I think she saw my potential way before I even saw it. So I joined a group of seasoned runners and was even more terrified and felt more out of place. After all I was now in a group of people who could complete a 5K and I had barely made it through one. Luckily, the first day they have you introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, which was pretty much everyone, and I immediately met people so I was starting to feel a little more comfortable.

Then the workouts began. First we did a time trial, which was the longest 2 miles, remember, I had only run 3 straight miles once in my life, but I finished and hoped to see any improvement by the end of this program. The biggest, most important thing with this program is to trust in the program and trust the coaches. They are there to help you and make you as successful as you can be, not compared to anyone else there, just compared to you from start to finish of the program. So I committed 100% and showed up every week, twice a week not missing a single session. I struggled through many, well let’s be honest, all of the workouts, but along the way I noticed my body was not failing me it was getting stronger. There were many workouts I wasn’t able to complete just because of time, which drove me crazy because others would be done and recovering and I’d still be out there on the track trying to get it done but I always got encouraging support from everyone, coaches and other members. So on days off I would go back and repeat the workout to know I could do it. Despite the workouts being hard for me, I always had fun and kept coming back. I was also proud that of what I was able to accomplish each session.

By the end of the 14 weeks I was actually sad to see the program ending and when we did our final time trial, again I was the last one in but I took almost 2 minutes of my minute mile so I knew that this was a success…and only the beginning. After my 3rd year my timed mile was minutes faster! The people I met in that program were not only just other participants, they soon became good friends and I never realized how strong the running community is. Despite always being last that first year, I always had others cheering me on and encouraging me because they knew I was doing the best I could. I have now completed 3 Spring Training programs and am no longer in the back, somewhere in the middle but no matter what, there will always be faster runners, and that’s ok, b/c the only one I need to compete with is me. I learned a lot about form, nutrition, preparing for races, but the most important thing I learned in all of those programs is that running gives you what you put in to it. If you give it 100% then you will definitely see results. And with amazing support and knowledge from the coaches who run the program there is no way that you could fail unless you give up on yourself, which they will not let you do. If you feel like you’re struggling, tell them. If you are lost on something, talk to them. They are a wealth of knowledge that will turn a sport in to more than that, it becomes a community, a family. They are there to help you succeed. And there is no way you will fail is unless you don’t try.

Cat Nowinski