Jen Tries: Running a 5K Race


I’ve always considered myself pretty “average” on the healthy living scale. On one side of the coin, I don’t enjoy eating fast food, I love kale (before it was ~trendy~ because I’m Portuguese) and all other vegetables, and I used to box in high school. On the other, I don’t exercise as much as I’d like to, I really like chocolate and a nice glass of wine, and I tend to struggle with portion sizes.

Photo Credit Adidas

Essentially, I’m not an Instagram fitness and nutrition superstar, but I’m not a couch potato either. I’m right there in the middle, and sometimes that can be a tough place to be.

Couch to 5k

In order to make a healthy lifestyle change during my last semester of college, I decided to enroll in a wellness course called “Couch to 5K” in hopes that I’d improve my cardiovascular fitness and find another outlet for relieving stress. I had seen “Couch to 5K” running plans on Pinterest before enrolling in the course, but I had tried and failed at those pre-set plans on my own. I was hoping that having a professor who would encourage me would help to motivate me towards being able to have the energy to run a formal 5K race.

I remember throughout the semester having a constant love-hate relationship with running. Some days, I wanted nothing more than to lace up my sneakers and hit the track. Other days, I contemplated (or went through with) skipping class to hang out with my roommates or watch Netflix. The journey of training for a 5K was tough, but I knew I’d have to step up my game to reap big rewards. The same was true when I was a boxer; it used to be so difficult to make it through multiple three-minute rounds of training while still giving 110 percent, but after a while you get the hang of it.

Running — I Like It

Towards the middle of the semester, I started to enjoy running enough to purchase an expensive pair of running shoes – the Brooks GTS. I knew investing in a good pair of running shoes would be essential to a better performance during my 5K and beyond, so I bought them with confidence and I haven’t looked back since.

5K Photo 1

The 5K I participated in took place on April 30th in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in partnership with the Harrisburg YWCA. One of my best friends interned with the YWCA during the semester, and she had decided to run the race as well, along with her co-intern. It was the perfect scenario.  

When I woke up the morning of the race, my throat hurt and I felt congested, as my allergies had been rough over the previous two weeks and weren’t improving. I still got up, went about my morning, and got pumped up for the day with my friend. The rush of energy I got when we arrived at the registration table was unbelievable. Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about my allergies or how I looked compared to some of the other runners; I was just happy to be there and was thrilled that I had decided to take this new step.

Strong Start

As my friend and I started the race, I was feeling strong and optimistic. I had my nice professional-grade running shoes, a killer playlist and one of my best friends by my side. We decided to stick together throughout the race, worrying less about competition and focusing instead on spending the morning together. At the two-mile mark, I decided it would be best for us to take a few minutes to walk, as I knew I hadn’t trained well in the two weeks right before the race because I was sick and didn’t think I could finish without stopping. I’m glad we took the moment to stop running for a bit and just walk, as it helped me to enjoy the weather, admire the city and regain my focus so we could finish out strong.

Before I knew it, we were ready to start running again, and we pushed through until the finish line. I will never forget the rush of adrenaline I felt once I saw the finish line at a distance. I had gotten to that point of “I’m so exhausted and when is this going to end” and was nervous about needing to stop to walk again before we reached the finish line, but that all changed once the bright banner was in sight. My friend and I held hands as we crossed the finish line and cheered as we celebrated the accomplishment. Some of our classmates were definitely still sleeping that Saturday morning, but we had just completed a 5K race together, with smiles on our faces. My roommates even came into the city to see me at the finish line with posters, which was the sweetest surprise.


5K? Done

As for my future with running, I definitely hope to continue. I have taken a few weeks off to make time for my graduation, moving back to Boston and spending time with family, but I will definitely be lacing up my sneakers very soon. I’ve already looked up 5K races to register for during the summer! I’m happy to have found a workout that is inexpensive and renewing, both mentally and physically. Running definitely isn’t always easy, but it has taught me patience, perseverance and gratitude with each step.

Jen Flanagan is a multimedia journalist and recently graduated with her B.A. in Journalism from Messiah College. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Jen is a city girl at heart with a constant case of wanderlust. Her work has been featured in over 10 beauty, lifestyle and news publications, including Her Campus, Elite Daily and USA TODAY College. A few of her favorite things: time spent with her family and friends, reading magazines, traveling and spending too much time at Sephora.
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