I’m bad at “firsts”

You know how sometimes the first time you do something you get really nervous? Well, that happens to me. All. The. Freaking. Time. For example, in high school, I somehow was miraculously “sick” for my first track meet and “injured” for my first cross country meet. Yep, I backed out of both.

I have never been good with the unknown. I like to know what to expect and obviously if something is new to me, that isn’t exactly possible.


So this past Friday was my first indoor track meet ever. Sure, I dabbled in outdoor and cross country in high school, picked up track more seriously in college and eventually jumped on the cross country bandwagon, but indoor was uncharted territory for me. Add in that I was going to be running events I haven’t run since freshman year when my coach didn’t believe that I was a distance runner and thought I was on the team as a joke (true story. Look at me now, coach), I was a headcase.


Going into the meet, I was actually okay. I know that we’re using the indoor season to work on my speed. Somehow, I didn’t really take this to heart. So when he signed me up for the 4×800 and the mile, I wanted to back out. Way too many new things going on at once.

We headed off to Muhlenberg at 11:30am, arrived at 3 and Christine and I went outside to run around the track for a shakeout run. I was so sore from the previous day’s weight training activities and the squats we had been doing at practice all week. The longer I ran, the better I was feeling. We did about a mile and then the rest of the team came out to do their shakeout so I went with them. I kept feeling better and better. Still sore, but my legs were finally moving. Around 5 we did another team warmup inside on the track to tack on another mile.

team warm up

team warmup

The 160 meter track. Not 400, not 200. 160-meter. Who has a 160 meter track?! 

The first event started at 6 and it was the mile. 10 laps around. I don’t  think I really internalized this which made the run feel endless compared to the 4 laps I’m used to outdoors. My coach seeded me at a 6 minute flat but felt it was a bit conservative given where I’m at with my training. I agreed and was confident that I would be running closer to a 5:45. Clearly too confident.

Right before Zo passed me and took off

Right before Zo passed me and took off

The first 400 split I got was right on target. I think it was around an 88 which was exactly where I was supposed to be. Another lap or two went by and the breathing became difficult inside. There was no fresh air and that made it extremely difficult. My legs started to feel heavy from the workouts over the course of the week. I wasn’t the only one. Most of our team was way off where we were supposed to be. I finished with a time of a 6:28. The last time I ran the mile was my sophomore year in high school and I ran a 6:04. That’s embarrassing. I split faster times than that when I run a 6K in cross country or the 5K on the track. That’s embarrassing. I shook it off and ate the second half of my sandwich to prepare for the 4×800.

Those uniforms are just so... attractive. Nawt.

Those uniforms are just so… attractive. Nawt.

We cooled down on the treadmills for another 10 minutes or so and then my coach announced the A and B teams for the relays. Even though I was one of the faster girls, I was put on the B relay. I don’t particularly like relays nor do I have the speed to be an 800 runner, but it did sting at first. I was the lead off which meant I’d be running against another teammate of mine. He pulled me aside after to tell me that he was doing this so I can build my speed, and I was supposed to be working off of the other girl on my team I’d be running against to practice that. I don’t even know my split but by the time the relay started at 8:30, my body was asleep. It wasn’t a good time at all. I did another 10 minute cool down on the treadmills and we finally left the meet around 9:45pm.

When I was thinking about what went wrong at the meet, I realized that I’m a morning person. Over vacation, I was already in bed by 8:30 a lot of nights. My body was physically and mentally exhausted. I also psyched myself out and don’t have the speed to push through the shorter distances yet. I know what areas I have to improve on though to make these meets work for me, and that’s what this is. A learning experience. If I had backed out and faked sick or something like I was tempted to do, I would have been in the same situation next week when I run the 5K.

My week of “firsts” is over and I celebrated with pancakes and a milkshake for “dinner”…. at 11:45pm!!
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Do you get nervous over “firsts”?

About pickyrunner

I'm Sarah, a (mostly) health-crazed 20-year old New Englander living in Baltimore. Taste buds of a 4-year old, joints of a 90 year old, brain of a chemist, appetite of a teenage boy, legs of a runner. Mindset of a Champion. Follow @pickyrunner
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58 Responses to I’m bad at “firsts”

  1. Chelsie S says:

    You realize just how much pressure you put on yourself, right? In allllllll areas of your life … I think that your high school self shows that you would rather take yourself out of the running (no pun intended, truly) rather than perform at a level that you see as a “failure”. It’s okay if you’re not where you need to be for the mile and the 800m this week … you’ve been running miles upon miles, but look back — how many of those were speedwork runs? (Answer: I don’t think there was a single one ..?) You shouldn’t be expecting your fast twitch muscles to be ready to go right now. As you work your way through the season and start tailoring your workouts to achieve maximum fitness in your desired events, your body will start to get the message and you’ll find yourself getting the results you’re seeking. Don’t be your own worst enemy, it will only result in you holding yourself back from what you can truly achieve.

    • pickyrunner says:

      You always put things into perspective. And you’re right. I’m not in “sprint shape” right now. This is also the reason I’ve never been grounded. As my parents put it: I put more pressure on myself than they could ever dream of putting on me. I’m definitely my own worst enemy. No doubt about that.

  2. i obviously don’t have as much knowledge as chelsie does but her comment sounds smart! don’t beat yourself up too much about it – it was your very first attempt at an indoor track meet! i don’t believe in beginner’s luck either – i believe in veteran’s practice, so you’ll get there, i’m sure! oh and those pancakes and that milkshake look divine.

  3. Runner Girl Eats says:

    I love having pancakes for dinner…or breakfast, or lunch lol firsts are always intimidating but I just keep reminding myself that at one time every thing is a first and it’s not so bad🙂

  4. I love this! I get nervous with all first too. it is extremely difficult to do something for the first time. But you are right it is a learning experience. Like the first test in a class. You have to learn the teacher’s strategy! I know this was a long hard day, but I want to say I am so happy you have taken it and made it into a very inspiring day. Remember there aren’t many out there that could have even made it through this day (me cough cough). You did and will do it again!

    • pickyrunner says:

      Thanks girl! That’s an interesting way to look at it. Like a test. I can do tests and I get just as nervous for those, so I shouldn’t look at this any differently!

  5. allisonhayes91 says:

    I hate firsts took, I usually just try to not think about it so at don’t over think it and psyche myself out. You must be so relived your week is over, but you got through it! A milkshake and pancakes for dinner is perfect.

  6. I always get nervous for firsts! First day of school, first time with a new workout…definitely a fear of the unknown.

    Considering that it was at night, it was indoors and you seem to be a lot more of distance runner, don’t be too hard on yourself! I’m not going to lie, track running sounds slightly unbearable to me.

  7. Just think of how great you’ll feel at the end of the 5K or 10K by indoor/outdoor conferences because of the leg speed you’ve built up from the mile/800. There will be girls who trained solely for the longer races and never built up the strength to keep maintaining a fast pace. Yes, you will probably never have Zoe’s kick, but it will still really help your turnover. Don’t worry, he knows it’s uncomfortable. The 5k is even more uncomfortable than the mile…you’re doing three of them, really at the same pace you just ran!🙂

    • pickyrunner says:

      Hahhaha why does that not comfort me at all? But it’s true. I’m not a short distance runner. “power is speed”. I’m going to keep repeating that to myself until I believe it.

  8. I think it was at the University of Washington (some school near Seattle) who’s indoor track was like 187m. Talk about not being able to get splits! And stopping your race in a super random place. It’s definitely a flexibility challenge for OCD brains!

    • pickyrunner says:

      Whattt 187? We had two coaches giving splits at random places on the track but that would be way more complicated haha I was a mess with the 160, I couldn’t imagine an odd number!

  9. I am not usually a fan of firsts, but I must say, I love that you celebrated with a shake and pancakes🙂

  10. travels with mary says:

    this semester I have night classes Mon-Thurs and I teach during the day, so my only workout-time is 7pm or later– I feel you on the late night struggle!!

  11. Megan says:

    Running that late has to be tough! I play soccer some night at 10:40pm (WTFFF) and it takes a while for me to get moving. I am like you and prefer to be in bed by 10pm. Still good job for your first meet, you can only go up from here!

  12. I know you’re disappointed in your time, but I still think you’re amazing. I could never run a mile that fast! You have a lot to adapt to with the smaller indoor track and late night running, you’ll get there and I’m sure you’ll end up surprising yourself by the end of the season!

  13. I get SO nervous over firsts. and over competition of any sort in general. any big meet, I always got myself soooo worked up! It may not have been as expected, but I think you did a pretty great job! Now you know what to expect for next time! And the 160 track is very weird…

    • pickyrunner says:

      I hate competitions. Which is ironic because I’m so competitive. With swimming, I used to cry before all of my races because I worked myself up way too much. Then I had to give it up. Maybe I should take a lesson or two from myself…

  14. indoor races are tough period, I feel like training does not prepare you for that indoor track. I remember doing the two mile and having to run so many freaking laps that just went on and on because the track was 200 not 400. Insane. first happen, they are uncomfortable but you get better. I think you did a great job for the first time, if I ever had to run an 800 I freaked out because I am not a speedy demon

    • pickyrunner says:

      Oh god the 5K is the same number of laps as the 10K outdoors. It’s going to feel endless haha but it was my first try so I have a few more before the conference meet!

  15. Rachel B says:

    Good for you for going for it even though you were nervous!! First races never go the way you expect I feel like, you’ve put in so much hard work – you’ll definitely get there!!

  16. Abby says:

    Oh, girl I can SO relate to these feelings. I’m proud of you for going with it, and not backing out.
    Track meets were always stressful for me, especially when I was not placed in the heats I was hoping for. I’m going to tell you the same thing I said to Christine, last week.. I know it sucks when you’re put with a “slower” group – I’ve been there, but remember that you are a faster runner than 90% of the population. A six minute mile is awesome, for anyone! I know in track or CC standards it may be average, but don’t brush off what your body can do. There are people out there that would love to be able to run a mile straight without stopping, and people that would love to run period! **I’m not saying you’re not being grateful, that’s not what I mean at all. I just wanted to give you this little bit to bring you a little optimism and encouragement :)** I think you’re learning a lot about yourself with track already, keep up the good work! Have a fabulous day!

    • pickyrunner says:

      This is definitely some great advice. I have to remember that I will never be the “best” at anything but I’m far from the worst. It’s okay and I like to work my way up anyways. Thanks girl🙂

  17. lifeasliv says:

    I have to say, Chelsie said it best! Don’t be your own worst enemy!! You’re such an incredible, smart, talented, DRIVEN GIRL! Give yourself a little slack.🙂

  18. Bad races happen…I’ve had some that I just want to cry for hours upon hours on but Chels is pretty spot on. Not much was speed workouts and that is SO CRITICAL for those shorter distances…plus a 160 track? That’s like turn on turn on turn. If anything you have awesome photos from it. I hope the 5k goes well this weekend (?) that is more of your jive to begin with! Thinking of the mile makes me want to vomit.

    Here is a great swimming story I may have told you when I was at your house. My sophomore year of college I swam a faster first 100 in my mile then as the lead off of a 400 relay. Needless to say I was in a lot of trouble and never swam anymore relays. (the sad part is…I was seriously trying to sprint).

    • pickyrunner says:

      Haha that’s an awesome story! You may have told me that? I’ve heard other people have the same experiences actually. I guess it just makes us true distance athletes. 5K this weekend. That’s something I can do!

  19. Good for you for just getting it done! I’ve always thought running is the hardest sport (well besides swimming and that’s just impossible for me!) so just getting out there and putting your nervous energy into the sport is so awesome! Keep up the good work. And hey, can’t be so bad if you get a milkshake afterwards😉

    • pickyrunner says:

      Haha I guess it means I chose the two most difficult sports then. Lucky me! They’re so mental that it makes it hard to separate yourself from the race. But there is definitely a fine line where that nervous energy can be helpful!

  20. Don’t beat yourself up over this race, try to learn from it (some of the comments on this post are great!) and then use it to improve! I know you’re going to rock the 5k!

  21. Ugh. First. I’ve gotten better with trying new things as I got older, but I used to be an absolute wreck when it came to new experiences. I’d stress myself up so much that oftentimes I really did end up making myself sick. And I’m not one to give running advice, but I will echo what most of the others have said and tell you not to be so hard on yourself. We can’t really expect to excel at everything on our first try – some things take more work and getting used to. You’re going to rock it next week🙂

    • pickyrunner says:

      I’m definitely too hard on myself sometimes. It’s something to work on for sure. But hopefully the more I push myself out of my comfort zone, the more I’ll be okay with some of those scary unknowns.

  22. Firsts are definitely a challenge. I went swimming for the first time at a new pool last week and it took me a loooooong time to work up the courage I needed to actually get myself over there…like probably a month. I kept putting it off, backing out, coming up with reasons why it wouldn’t work for me to go, until eventually I got to the point where I realized that if I was still going to do an indoor tri (which I had told far too many people I was for sure going to do to back out at that point) I absolutely HAD to get in the pool, no matter how scary the thought of it was. It’s so easy to strive to stay comfortable instead of pushing ourselves, and I’m proud of you for running the races even if you might have been tempted to bail. I didn’t run track or cross country in college so I never participated in an indoor meet, but I did talk to a decent number of tracksters who ran indoor meets, and they always sounded like a totally different beast than outdoor meets. There are so many different things going on inside (steady temps, no wind, a whooollllee lotta left turns) that though I get why you might compare your indoor times to outdoor times, it kind of seems like an apples vs. oranges comparison to me (or maybe an orange vs. lemon comparison: fundamentally similar but still too different to fairly compare). Like I said, I think it’s awesome that you got out there, that you got through your “first,” and that you were able to take away some lessons about yourself from the whole situation.

    And also that you had pancakes and a milkshake for dinner. I want to make that happen in my life rightnow.

    • pickyrunner says:

      I’d be afraid to try out a pool too! But I totally get where you’re coming from being too afraid to back out after telling so many people. I definitely use that tactic for accountability too. And you’re so right with the apples vs. oranges. They’re two entirely different races, both terrifying, but not comparable to one another.

  23. kelseyruns says:

    I know pretty much nothing about track but I do know alot about pancakes, glad you celebrated with them and a milkshake!🙂

  24. Amanda says:

    I don’t know much of anything about track, but I think you did great. It was a first, and you were nervous. Now that the first is out of the way, I bet you’ll do great at another indoor track meet since you’ll want to beat the times you had.

    At least pancakes cure a multitude of ills.🙂

  25. myhighonlife says:

    Oh girl I’m the same way! I hate the first day/try of anything new. I just started a new job and it stressed me out so much to the point where I was shaking at times.

    But we all have to start somewhere! And now it can only go up from here right?🙂

    You’ll adjust to the indoor track and soon you’ll be blowing away that mile time!

  26. alltidrun says:

    Races should always be capped off with a pancake dinner. Good job on the race. The beauty of first times is that you have a starting point from which to improve on. You’re gonna do great this upcoming season!

  27. Sarah, great job for accomplishing SO much this weekend! You should be so proud of yourself!

    The indoor track at the college I went to is so tiny! A person has to run around it 16x before they’re at a mile!

    I always get nervous for firsts! Slowly but surely, I’m learning to just go with the flow. It’s a challenge and a hard one at that, especially if a first sucks…but than there are the firsts that are so worth it and can shape and form us into who we are today.

    • pickyrunner says:

      Woah that is SO small! We don’t have an indoor track at my school so it’s always outside. You’re right, though. Firsts can totally make a difference in who you are. They make you stronger.

  28. chasingchels says:

    I’m always a wreck before my first anything! Totally get where you’re coming from, and I think you did an amazing job! I like how you took the time to figure out why you’re legs weren’t working like you’re used to, and it makes complete sense. Your celebratory pancakes and milkshake look amazing, and I hope you enjoyed every bite🙂

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