Why attempting half-marathon training is kinda good? Did I just say that? Do I hate myself?

Please note: I am not evaluating the entirety of training for a half marathon, just the beginning part where you’re easing into it.

I started training for a half marathon because a group of friends decided to train for a half marathon and I would rather physically torment myself than be left out. Due to social distancing and also all this group of pals being distributed throughout the country, we all follow the same training plan, which requires three runs of varying lengths a week. We text each other screenshots from our running apps once each run is complete. This isn’t meant to be competitive. It’s just to be supportive of each other, and create both a sense of community and a little accountability too.

I’m one and a half weeks into the training. Week one involved a two-mile, three-mile, and four-mile run. Week two is a two-mile, three-mile, five-mile deal. I have not yet attempted the five-mile.

My experience thus far: I kinda like it? Maybe this is the pandemic talking, but it feels good to be like, “Hey, I accomplished something today” and have that something be more than finishing a tv series I didn’t even enjoy (I‘m looking at you, HBO’s “The Undoing”).

I’m not trying to be one of those “I actually love to exercise and think carrots are dessert” types. I don’t want to be anything like that sort of person. I love and respect dessert. So let me defend myself here.

Big reason I’m enjoying myself? I’m in the top three of my group of friends. Now I could just say “third” but the guy who would be second had a real slow time on one of the runs (icy conditions, he claims) so “top three” is fair to both me and him. Plus the vagueness might leave those who are skimming this article thinking I’m in first place!

But honestly being in second/third at the start is ideal. I’m on the podium, but I still have a goal: crush the girl who is consistently faster than me. It is probably the only reason I haven’t quit yet.

(At this point you might be remembering that I said this running group isn’t competitive. And it’s not. But I am.)

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty that’s bad about starting to train for a half-marathon. Let’s start with the obvious: Running hurts. It hurts Before, During, and After.

The hurt Before is a bit more mental, but I’d argue pulling yourself from the warm embrace of the couch and your dedicated couch-blanket is so mentally painful it spills into the physical.

Of course it hurts During. That’s exercise for you. You know the feeling — that sort of all over, deep fatigue that takes over your body and makes you wonder, “am I going to die doing this?”

I also sometimes have another During pain because of a condition called Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, in which my kneecap slides about a bit. This is because the muscles that are supposed to keep my knee cap on its designated kneecap track are so weak, they give up instead of doing their job. They just let go. What the hell kind of body is this? Instead of being like, “try and hold the bones together!” my muscles are like, “we quit.” Thanks. There are physical therapy exercises to help with this syndrome, but like…c’mon. I’m not gonna do them. (Too cool.)

Before we get too sidetracked, we still haven’t discussed the After pain.

They call it “sore muscles” but I think we can be a bit more descriptive than that. It feels to me more like my muscles are seizing up into rocks to prevent me from ever making them work that hard again. And instead of letting them be rocks forever, I do stuff like … get up, or, walk down the stairs, forcing the muscles that have just crystalized to open up and bend and twist again as if they are made of soft plastic.

None of these pains, however, outweigh the sense of pride I get at being faster than almost all my friends. But it absolutely kills me that I had to write “almost.”

Starting to train for a half marathon: