Only You Can Celebrate Your Running Milestones

Thing about running

Image by Rachel Greenhouse,

Yesterday, after my long run, I walked up the stairs to my apartment, took off my running shoes, sat down in butterfly pose to stretch out my hips and thought, “Oh my God, I just ran 16 miles.”

In less than a year’s time, I’ve gone from not being able to run a mile, to running a four miler, then jumping up to running two half-marathons and now I’m training for a full marathon.

I still remember the day, back in May, when I ran 6 miles with my cousin along the beach in Maine. It was my first breakthrough with running. The first time I saw “the wall” and just leaped over it like I was jumping over a puddle. We got back to her house that day and celebrated because it was a huge deal for the both of us. During these first few months of running, every little bit further I went was a milestone. It was cause for celebration and reflection on how far I’ve come.

This weekend I hit another milestone by running my longest run ever and logging my highest mileage week ever. When I woke up Sunday morning, I saw my running clothes laid out on the floor with my Gu packets meticulously placed and ready to be ingested and I didn’t feel nervous. I felt excited and anxious about taking on the challenge of running a new distance.

The run went flawlessly but during those two and a half hours on the road I couldn’t help but think back on how much progress I’ve made. With every run, whether it goes well or not, I’m humbled by the results.

I know many runners, much more experienced than I am, who will say they have a long run of “just” 10 miles on a given weekend. I have been guilty of this very same thing saying I “only” have to run 4 miles on a weekday. Well, there are so many runners out there who see 4 miles as challenging and may feel like 10 miles is impossible. I have a good friend who will run a 10-mile race next Sunday and she typically runs 3 to 4 miles during the week. But, on Sunday she texted me, excited to tell me she ran 6.5 miles, her longest run ever. I was so proud of her and how far she has come.

Running is an individual sport and each milestone is relative to each individual runner. What is a huge accomplishment for one person, like hitting a new distance or nailing a new pace, may be routine for another but that doesn’t make each milestone less sweet. I don’t take for granted for a second how far I’ve come already. After my run on Sunday, I realized, although 16 miles is not the longest I’m ever going to run, it’s still a milestone and I will celebrate it as such because it was my own personal accomplishment and no other runner can one-up me on that.

22 thoughts on “Only You Can Celebrate Your Running Milestones

  1. Congrats! And so true. I’m constantly trying to remind myself of this. Sometimes it’s easy when runs are hard :) but most of the time I have to remember how hard it was running 8 miles a few months ago, or going over 10 for the first time, and now 8 feels like a reasonable long run.

    • Thank you! And exactly, it’s all about personal progress. You can’t compare yourself to another runner because everyone’s experience level is different!

    • Thank you Laura :) I completely agree too, the running community is amazingly supportive. It always amazes me how congratulatory runners are of one another.

  2. This is great- Congrats on the 16!! :) As someone who is training for my first Half and is at 6.5 miles as my farthest distance to date, it’s nice to know that there are other newbies out there who know what a big deal a 6 or 10 or 16 mile run can be!

    • Thank you! Congrats on training for your first half-marathon! I ran my first in September and it was such an amazing experience. You’re going to rock it!

  3. I just hopped on the treadmill and banged out 2.5 miles for the first time in a long time! Longest I’ve ever ran is a 5 miler last spring (my first race ever!) I’m currently debating on whether I should sign up for a half-marathon this coming spring (the same race as last year actually!). I’m terrified, but I think it’s one of those, just go for it and do something that scares you – kind of deal. Any tips, recommendations, advice on a newbie runner? :)

    • Honestly, if you can run 5 miles, you can run a half-marathon. With the proper training, you’ll have no problem finishing a half! Typical half-marathon training plans for beginners are roughly 12 weeks and if you pick the right one for you, you’ll have no problem! Plus, how cool would it be to come back to the same race you ran as your first race and run the half? Talk about a truly special milestone!

  4. My thoughts exactly when it comes to running being an individual sport! I find, when people are talking about their running and not thinking about perspective, I happen to think it has a lot to do with pride. Not so much trying to make other people feel uncomfortable about their long/short runs.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I needed to read this. I started running back in July, completed the c25k program and ran my first 5k in September. After running four 5ks, I decided I was ready for a new challenge and trained for a 14k which I completed last weekend. However, I have struggled to celebrate any of this. I feel like what I have done is so insignificant. I’m slow. I still have a lot of weight to lose and I tend to be one of the last people to complete each race. And having friends who run half marathons and marathons, my completion of a 5k or 14k just doesn’t seem like it is anything special worth celebrating compared to what they are doing. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly supportive and they often tell me that I should be proud of myself. My friends who are runners are truly my biggest cheerleaders. But I just can’t get there. I just can’t seem to allow myself to accept that what I am doing is significant.

    • Congrats on your races and progress! I understand what you mean about it feeling insignificant sometimes but it’s all about how you feel as a runner. When I started running last March I couldn’t believe how much it impacted my entire well-being and attitude. I just felt so much better, energetic and happier. That’s the part of running I like to celebrate but it’s different for everyone. You’re doing amazing though, keep up the good work and don’t let the fact that you’re friends are doing longer distances get you down. You’ll get there, if you want to, but you are your own runner and that’s something to be proud of!

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  9. Great post, and so true. I’ve been running 5Ks since September but have just started to want to push myself to go further. I did 3.5 this weekend and felt on top of the world… until I thought of my friend who did 20 last weekend in preparation for a marathon. Baby steps.

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