I do not have a typical first mile experience when I run but mostly, the first mile is hard. I know it’s good practice to warm up before running, but I hardly ever do. Or I guess what I call my ‘warm up’, when I even do it, is not sufficient. Lack of sufficient warm up isn’t the sole reason for my less than stellar first miles, though. There are other factors like the weather, how tired I am, if I am properly fueled, etc. I used to get really discouraged and frustrated sometimes when my first mile wasn’t up to my expectations but I’m glad I know better now. That the first mile doesn’t have to define my entire run. That the first mile might not look pretty- and that’s ok.
I’ve had ok first miles, good first miles, terrible first miles, amazing first miles, and everything in between. I’ve had first miles where I needed to pee urgently right off the bat (even though I pee’d several times before leaving home). I’ve also had first miles where my calves were screaming bloody murder from the get go. I’ve had first miles that went from running, to walking, to limping. I’ve even had first miles that I didn’t actually complete. I’ve had first miles where it started raining heavily. I’ve had first miles in familiar places and in not so familiar places. The first mile, though important, doesn’t have to define the entire run.
A concept I struggle with is the advice I’ve read and heard countless times- don’t start out too fast. Don’t let your first mile be your fastest. And I almost always fail at this. Every time, I tell myself I will take it easy. I will start gradually, I will warm up my muscles… but when I check my watch or my app speaks to me, I see that I have completely disregarded this advice yet again. I don’t know how that happens, honestly. I think I’m just so happy to be running that I start off too fast. Or something.
Perhaps the reason for this is so that one doesn’t use up all their energy upfront? Energy conservation strategy? Anyway, I feel like no matter how slow I go starting off, I almost always never [I’m sure what I just did there is improper English sentence construction, but oh well] get faster as time goes on, for whatever reason. Well, there have been a few exceptions but since it’s not usual, I try not to bank on that happening. Now I just give it my all from the get go (within reason, not like a full on sprint), and if I get slower after each mile, so be it. I tell myself that I would have gotten slower anyway.
But back to that first mile.
It’s during the first mile that I usually start thinking- how many miles will I run today? This is on days when I actually have a choice aka not training for a race, as training runs are pretty much set in terms of mileage. My local running club typically has 4 and 6 mile routes planned for every Saturday. Of course, one can run any amount of miles they like but those are the planned routes offered, and me being a stickler for the rules (generally), I feel like those are my only choices. I know, I’m weird.
However, I have learned not to make the decision on how many miles to run based on how I’m feeling that first mile because I usually feel much better later on- about 15 minutes into the run. It’s amazing! Did someone say endorphins? One just has to be patient for how ever many minutes it takes them to get into the groove. That mental battle that makes you keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard it seems…. And then the seconds turn into minutes, and the minutes into hours. And then you wonder why you ever wanted to stop that first mile. It also helps if one is running outdoors- usually you have to keep going. However, if you are on the treadmill, it’s very easy to just hit the stop button.
So despite my numerous dismal first miles, I’m thankful for the amazing first miles I’ve been fortunate to experience.
I would like to know your first mile experiences, please leave a comment below 🙂
p.s. photo was taken on one of my runs in the Nashville, TN area while visiting a friend for the weekend