Finishing Your First 5K1 of 14
For most runners, the 5K is a great distance for a first race. It's long enough to be challenging, yet still manageable. You don't need to worry about special fuel and you'll likely be done in around 30 minutes—that's less time than it takes to watch a television show! There's something so special about that first race, when everything seems new and exciting.
A Double-Digit Run2 of 14
By the time you log 10 miles—in a row—you've likely been running for a while. You're comfortable running regularly, but a double-digit run is still a big deal. Once your runs exceed 90 minutes, it's time to start thinking about fueling on the run, which brings us to our next milestone...
Your Very First Gel3 of 14
You've seen fellow runners slurp gelatinous goo from foil packets, and you may have even purchased a few for yourself. Now it's time to taste test one of those bad boys. Some runners prefer dried fruit or pretzels, but it's hard to beat the convenience of a sports gel or chew. The flavor and texture? Let's just say it's an acquired taste.
Your First Black Toenail4 of 14
Sure, your feet might never look the same in sandals, but there's something about a black or—gulp—missing toenail that makes us feel pretty hardcore.
"Oh, that black toenail? Just a little souvenir from my marathon," you'll say. If it's happening too often, though, make sure your shoes aren't too small.
Completing Your First Half Marathon5 of 14
After you've logged a few 5Ks and 10Ks, the half marathon starts calling your name. It's long enough to feel like a huge accomplishment (hello, finisher's medal and post-race beer tent), but not as intimidating as a full marathon.
The Sub 2-Hour Half Marathon6 of 14
Some speedy runners nail the sub 2-hour half on their first try, but many of us need to learn the racing ropes before we get there. Those first few races are all about trial and error—learning how to train, how to fuel and what to wear. Once you've figured out the basics of training, a half in under two hours (9:09 mile pace) is a great goal to set.
Your Sub-7 Minute Mile7 of 14
Whoa, speedy! There's something pretty awesome about seeing a time that starts with a six. Even if you can only hold the pace for a single mile, logging a super-fast time is exhilarating.
Your First Run in Bad Weather8 of 14
Anyone can get outside on a beautiful day, but what about when your training plan calls for a long run in the rain, snow or bitter cold? Unless conditions are dangerous, try to get out there anyway. You'll feel pretty badass once you're finished.
Hitting 40 Miles in a Week9 of 14
Some casual runners might never feel the need to log this many miles, but if you train for a marathon, you'll probably get close. There's something about a 40-mile week that takes you from a recreational runner to a competitive runner.
Your First 20-Mile Run10 of 14
When you're training for a marathon, you'll likely run at least one 20-mile run. At the beginning of training it will seem impossible, but after you crush it? Shout it from the rooftops, because you just ran really, really far.
Your First Race Bonk11 of 14
Woof. If there were an opposite of the runner's high, hitting the wall would be it. It usually happens when we're long on miles and short on fuel. It's not very fun, but bonking can help you learn for next time. Remember to hydrate and fuel while you're still feeling good.
Crossing the Finish Line of a Marathon12 of 14
Oh, hey, marathoner! There's plenty of glory in shorter races, but there's something about the marathon that's extra special. Wear that medal proudly, eat an extra helping of cake and celebrate your finish in style. Then start thinking about the next one, amiright?!
A BQ!13 of 14
The elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time is the dream of every amateur runner. Some of us might never get there, but the challenge keeps us motivated to train harder and to keep trying our best. Isn't that what running is all about?