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Why I'm Jealous of New Runners

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Oh hi, new runners! You all are so lucky, you know that? It may not seem like it when you start running for the first time, but you are. Whether you're a track star who hid her shoes in the closet for the last decade or a novice runner who doesn't yet understand the meaning of "fartlek" (oh, but you will soon enough!), I'm crazy with envy over the path of each new runner—because their lives are about to be a series of unforgettable firsts.

You'll fall in love.
There might be fireworks in the beginning: Oh my god, is this what endorphins feel like?! Or maybe it'll be a slow burn: I ran five blocks last week, and six blocks today...yay! Either way, if running's for you, you'll get hooked. And when you're in love, the world looks a little bit brighter. A spring will form in your step, even when you're not chasing down 400s on the track or hunting down the only water fountain within 3 miles. (Related: An Open Letter to Runners Who Think They're Too Slow)

You'll set PR after PR.
Never run a mile? Congrats, your first one is now your new personal record. Same goes for your first 5K, 10K, half, marathon, and the list goes on. Soon you'll memorize your fastest times and become intent on topping them in subsequent races. In the beginning, each finish line equals not just a personal record but a singular achievement, another notch on the belt in your running journey.

You'll become an encyclopedia.
Running seems easy enough. Buy some neon shoes, lace up, and go. Ha! You'll soon dive into a whole new world, complete with strange lingo to decipher and a whole host of peripheral subjects. To understand how to carb-load, you need to understand what a carb actually is. To learn how to cross-train, you'll first discover how your muscles work. Never knew where your gluteus medius was before? Get ready to find out—and get a lot more educated about your body in the process.

You'll get addicted to cheers.
People will tell you to put your name on your shirt for your first big race, and you might think, What's the big deal? But I'm telling you now: Do it. After perhaps the elementary school swim meet, there aren't many times in your life when you'll have people on the sidelines screaming your name. When strangers tell you there's "just one more mile!" or to "squash those hills!" you'll be shocked—yes, actually shocked—by how much their words inspire you. And you may start to wonder how you can share that inspiration with everyone around you.

You're perfectly undertrained.
I don't want to scare you, but there will come a moment in your running career, er, life where you become a little overtrained if you stack up race after race. In the beginning, you might be running for fun or for exercise, but it will still feel new. You'll want to tell everyone about every run. Fair warning: This is recommended, unless the other person is a runner, too, in which case, they'll tell you about their every run.

Your enthusiasm is contagious.
Know what's better than one runner? TWO runners! No one is more motivating than a person who's discovering a new talent or hobby, and the giddiness that new runners feel is more contagious than spring fever. (Confession time: If I meet someone who's just started running, I try to get them talking for hours so I can soak up all of their energy and excitement.)

You'll see yourself grow stronger.
Finally, the biggie. The single most important reason to be jealous of new runners is how it feels to witness their growing confidence. Something happens when you do what you thought was impossible. You change the opinion you have about yourself. You think, If I can run, what else can I do? What might be even more powerful than a runner's high is the runner's afterglow, which keeps you going far, far past the finish line.

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