26 In Life

fitness friday: mile 1.

This morning my mom sent me this text…

“Why is it that after I do about 3 miles I feel like I could do 3 more? It’s like the first mile I always feel like I can’t do this…”

Then that got me thinking about how true that is. Mile 1 really IS the hardest part about a workout, other than actually getting out the door. And why is that?? I sometimes think it’s the running devil trying to get into your head and make you quit before you’ve hardly even started. But I’m sure there’s a more scientific reason behind it. Is it because your legs aren’t warmed up yet? Your muscles haven’t loosened up yet? Your brain hasn’t released those empowering endorphins yet? You aren’t having fun yet? You haven’t hit a mark yet where you feel like you’ve accomplished something? You haven’t convinced yourself you can do it yet?  Your body hasn’t caught up with your mind? Yes. All of the above. At least according to my own experiences. And I think that this “mile 1 plague” is what keeps a lot of people from running in the first place.

(Yep, this has nothing to do with anything I’m talking about. But brownies will definitely make me run more. Fact.)

Even people who are in impeccable shape struggle through that first mile. That’s why at races you see runners warming up well ahead of start time and elites running a 3 mile warm up before a 5K. They know what’s coming, and they’re preparing to face it head on and run thru it! Now, I don’t know that my body has ever required that extensive of a warm up, but I do know that mile one usually sucks. I feel like I can’t breathe. I feel like my legs are made out of lead. I feel like I didn’t train enough, and I start to wonder how soon I can quit. But somewhere between miles 2 and 3, it’s like the sun comes out. My legs start to get in their groove, and my body and mind are finally starting to agree that I can do this. My breathing is back in the right rhythm, and I feel I could keep running forever.

Unfortunately, I think alot of people who are new to running experience the “mile 1 plague” and quickly conclude that that’s how it’s always going to feel. “If I feel this awful and I’m only at a half mile then how awful am I going to feel by mile 4??” I think they immediately conclude that they are way too out of shape to even consider this running thing, and their running experience is soured.

I always try to tell my friends that, “it’s only going to get easier!” And it is! It takes time for your heart and lungs to build up that endurance they need to make it through a long run. You can’t expect to run a marathon day 1. It’s just like anything else- you probably didn’t learn how to dive on day 1, you certainly weren’t good at riding your bike day 1, if you lay on the couch all week then walking up a huge flight of stairs will probably take the breathe out of you, and I remember when I thought for sure I was going to drown in the pool during my first lifeguarding test! But, by the end of that summer, swimming laps was fun and I could swim a few laps without feeling like I couldn’t breathe! Running is the same way! It takes time, but each time it gets easier and your body becomes more and more accustomed to it and begins to adjust! So don’t quit on day 1, or mile 1, because you haven’t given it a chance yet. Sometimes I hear people say, “running makes my chest hurt.” Well, my chest would hurt too if my heart and lungs hadn’t experienced anything aerobic in months! It doesn’t mean you can’t be a runner! It just means you might need to start off slow! And it might be miserable at first, and you might think you suddenly developed a bad case of asthma, but just keep trying. One foot in the front of the other. You’ll get there! (Unless you really do have asthma, in that case, I will be of no help.)

So mile one sucks. Yes. Yes it does. But you’ve got to push through it and give your body a chance to catch up with your mind! Your body will eventually follow! It’s pretty amazing what it can do! And it’s even MORE amazing how YOU will feel once you finish those miles!

In other news, today is Fit Approach’s birthday!!!!! I’m a newly added Sweat Pink Ambassador for them, and couldn’t be more excited!

AND it’s Fitness Friday. Link up your blog, running bloggers!

Happy Friday!!


  • Reply
    Koryn @ High Heels & Healthy Alternatives
    June 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Wow, if I could re-post this on my page (giving you credit of course :)), I soo would! I have so many friends who feel this same way. And truth be told, this was ME (before I started running)! My legs used to burn like crazy from just running a half mile and I was convinced that I could never do long distance running. But, as you said, with time and sticking with it, all that changed. I now enjoy running! The key is def. pacing yourself and not giving up!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      June 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Koryn- You totally can! Don’t mind at all! This was me too when I first started running! I even QUIT track in middle school because I thought I was going to DIE!!!!

  • Reply
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
    June 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I completely agree…mile 1 is always the hardest! It’s so weird! I really need to get back into running again, but I guess I’m just fearing those initial few runs until by body adjusts again.

  • Reply
    Too Cute Runner
    June 21, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    OMGosh! I had this same thought the other day as I ran a super easy few miles. Half way through the first mile my mind was saying, “You are the closest you are going to be to home, turn around now. Our legs hurt and breakfast is calling.” Then when I run 5 miles I feel amazing after! It definitely changes over time because I never thought I would be THAT crazy distance runner! But hey, you can accomplish anything you push your mind through! Thanks for the post, glad I am not the only one! Happy Running!

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    This is so true for me too! I’m not a long-distance runner by any means, but it gets a lot easier after that first mile.

  • Reply
    Madison @ Running Shoes and Sunshine
    June 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I completely agree with the Mile 1 Plague. It happens to me almost every run.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I love this topic b/c I thought I was the only one who sucked in the first mile(sometimes 2 shh) but you’re so right on pushing through! If I can push through the duldrums aka lead legs of the beginning then I can have a good run! It’s nice to know I’m not alone!!

  • Reply
    Anna @ Running on Plenty
    June 21, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    This happens SO often…and even when you pack on the mileage, the 1 mile plague turns into the 4 mile plague! That mind likes to play tricks on you. Silly mind! We can do it!

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      June 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Anna- Agreed!! Running is SO mental!!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I always find mile 1 to be hard too! It is amazing how mentally challenging running can be!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I just went for a run with my dad, and the first mile was KILLER. Once we hit mile 4, it all became clock work. I think the ‘first mile is the hardest’ can be applied to so many aspects of my life. I was unsure whether I was the only person who thought the first mile is awful, so I’m so glad to read this post! Love that your mom runs!

  • Reply
    Sarah (Shh...Fit Happens)
    June 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Agreed, the beginning of a run or sporting game is always a struggle for me. I especially notice it when I exert alot of energy at first, and my body needs time to adjust to the demands of exercise. I think not only is the 1st mile mentally a struggle, but it is also physically hard b/c our body is adapting to needing more energy and having to take in more oxygen

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      June 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Sarah – Definitely!!

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    June 22, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Is it weird that it makes me feel so good to know I’m not the only one who feels like the first mile is SO HARD?! Thanks for posting this!! I thought I was just really bad at the first mile, haha

    • Reply
      Sweet Miles
      June 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Liz- haha! You’re not the only one apparently 🙂 mile 1 is tough for everyone!!

  • Reply
    Ari @ The Pace of it All
    June 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I totally agree… once I get started, I feel so much better. I always have to talk myself through it (c’mon, just 1 more mile, that’s only 11 minutes, you can do this for 11 more minutes) but when I’m done, I feel like I could’ve kept going. Crazy.

  • Reply
    Anna @AnnaTheApple
    June 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    So so true! I really does suck for the first mile. I always tell myself, get to the first mile and then you can quit if you want. I haven’t quit yet! you start to get into the groove on mile two, mile one is just the shock to the system of getting going.

  • Reply
    Leslee @ Her Happy Balance
    June 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Congrats on being a new sweatpink ambassador and welcome!!! It’s really an awesome group of ladies 🙂 And mile one for me either completely stinks and I want to quit, or is surprisingly easy. Like after a rest day or two and then you go back out there, mile one isn’t too bad. Great point about “mile 1 plague” though. For a long time, that was very true for me.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    So true! I love this! I’m always telling my non-running friends that it does get better.

  • Reply
    Lori (Once Upon a Run)
    June 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    So true indeed! I constantly fight with myself during that first mile because I keep wanting to turn around and go home…so glad when I don’t! Sounds like it’s a struggle that so many runners fight sometimes!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I think the first mile being the most difficult applies to anything in life. Parenting. A new job. The first year of school or a first course of a semester. You said it best when you said that it does get better. And it does!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement! I’m hoping to get into running once the weather is a little nicer, and I need all the help I can get. Oh, and happy SITS day to you!!!
    Martha recently posted…Seven ways to grow your blog, part two: Fix your info!My Profile

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    This was an encouraging post! I *wish* I could run. I really do have asthma, and it is hard for me to run. I can walk for several miles at a time keeping 3.5-4 mph pace and feel great, but running? I feel like my body rebels every time I try!

    Visiting from SITS girls, happy SITS day!
    Chelsea recently posted…Are you bending too much?My Profile

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly's Kinda Crazy
    January 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I loved this post. I’m not a runner but it’s always something I’ve wanted to be able to do. It’s something that I need to push myself to achieve. Getting past that first mile with any kind of workout is always hard for me. Thanks for the encouraging words.
    Kelly @ Kelly’s Kinda Crazy recently posted…Strive to #FightFatTalk in 2014My Profile

  • Reply
    January 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    This was helpful to read and made me feel better. Thanks!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I spent my first ever mile,running from the wife,the hardest mile ever.

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