**Disclamer: I wrote this over a month ago and am just finding the courage to post it. I’m not one to open up online about personal things. Ask me in person and I will talk your ear off, but there’s something about posting it for the whole world to read that is scary. There are a few topics that have been on my mind and heart a lot lately – things that I struggle with, worry about, or am passionate about – that I want to share with others. So this may be the beginning of a little “series” of posts 🙂
With the Nashville Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon being a few weekends ago (and the 5th anniversary of my first 1/2 marathon), I have been thinking a lot about why I run and how I got into it in the first place. So here it is….
If you know me at all, you know running is a hobby of mine. It isn’t just a hobby though. It has slowly become a passion, something I love doing and (most of the time) I look forward to my running days. Sure, there are days I don’t want to run, but I usually do anyway and glad I did. There are also days I don’t want to run and I listen to my body and either rest or do another form of cross training/physical activity.
How it all Started
I haven’t always been a runner *band geek over here ;)*. I was the girl that would struggle with the mile run in middle school. I was slow and hated it, but I secretly dreamed of being one of the track stars that was tall, skinny, and fast (If you don’t know me I’m 5 foot and have been for years so that’s never been on my side… but that is also the only thing I didn’t have control over). I have no idea what compelled me to start running except that my parents had an old (I mean like dinosaur-looking-type old) treadmill in the basement. It was dusty and never used.
One day my junior year of high school I decided I would hop on and see what this was all about. I couldn’t go for more than a minute or two and I said to myself, “What am I thinking?! This is miserable!” So I started walking for five minutes or so and got another surge of “energy” and ran for another 1-2 minutes before walking again. This pattern is what I did a couple of days a week for months. During that time I played around with how many minutes I would walk vs how many I would run. I really just listened to my body. I didn’t want to hate running and I knew forcing myself to do a certain distance or speed wouldn’t help it’s case.
I really think as a junior in high school I used the treadmill as my escape. My escape from catty, mean girls, from heart-breaking boys, from homework and studying 😉 It was a place I could just pound out my feelings and something I could control- I could run as fast, slow, short, or long as I wanted and no one graded me, judged me, or excluded me from their group because of it.
After some time (I really don’t remember how long) I started doing a few runs outside. Growing up in Alabama there were hills. It was by no means flat, but I could sometimes get a short run in without *many* hills. During my freshman year of college I would get up at 5am to get a run/workout in. I continued running just for fun until I decided to do a 5K my sophomore year of college (3 years after I started running). I was slow, like super slow, and I wasn’t able to run without stopping a few times. My husband (boyfriend at the time) beat me and from then on I have been determined to get faster.
I ran my first half marathon in April of 2012- the Nashville Rock N Roll half. I over trained causing knee problems and plantar fasciitis. I went through weeks and hours of physical therapy before slowly getting back into running. During this time I didn’t allow myself to recover enough (and didn’t take the right steps to recovery like icing, foam rolling, stretching, etc) causing me to end up with a stress fracture. I was in a boot for 6 weeks and couldn’t do any weight bearing exercises.
Back to PT I went. I had the most amazing sports medicine PT who really cared about me and my passion. She wanted to help me get back to running the right way. She watched my stride while running on the treadmill and quickly saw that it was way too wide- short girl problems… I was also heel striking causing stress on parts of my body that shouldn’t have to take it. After 6 weeks (which felt super long, but thankfully this started just before Thanksgiving so it was cold… at least the boot kept my right leg warm right? 😉 ) I was finally cleared to start slowly getting back into running. She told me that my body was not built to run everyday, every other day sure, but not every single day. I was ok with that. There are so many other forms of exercise I could, and should, do. Cross training is a great way to allow your body to rest while building up other parts that don’t get worked during a run.
My favorite cross training activities: spin, yoga, HIIT, light weight lifting, core, & walking.
I have run several 5, 10, and 20Ks. I have run 3 half marathons and am registered for my 4th this coming September. I have played around with the idea of a full marathon, but to be honest it is very intimidating…. we will see 😉 I have progressed during each 1/2 marathon so I am happy with that for now.
The support and encouragement I have gotten from friends and family is what keeps me going. My husband has been to every one of my races since we’ve been married and only missed one since we’ve known each other. I could not do this or accomplished what I have with out them.
Why I Run
Like I mentioned above, I started running because it was a stress relief and escape. That hasn’t really changed. Running gets you out in nature (when the weather cooperates), allows you to breathe in the fresh air, and just think. I love that I can think about whatever I want. I can listen to music, listen to a podcast or a sermon, think about my day, or pray.
While these are the reasons I started running, and still do run, it has also taught me so much. Running has taught me endurance, patience, and to love myself and my body for what it is and what it can do. I have learned to fuel my body with the things it actually needs before and after a run. (When I started running this was not the case. A 5 mile run meant I could have a piece of pizza or cake afterwards.) These qualities and traits are some that I am realizing are so important to have in every aspect of life- relationships, jobs, and my overall attitude towards life/others.
So as I sit here icing my ankles and knees after a short run today, I write this to encourage and motivate you. I am by no means a star runner, but I do hope to consider myself an athlete. I’ve never run a marathon (although that may be coming in the near future), I’m not one of those “crazy” runners where running is their life (Priorities people! *wags finger*), I couldn’t last 2 minutes in a Cross Fit workout, and only on a good day can you maybe see some abs but that’s not what it’s about. Running is my thing (supplementing with other forms of exercise) and I love it. It takes work, hard work, but it’s so worth it.
Finding your self-worth in other’s opinions of you, your ability to do something, how much money you make, or what you look like is dangerous. Our identity is found in Christ, He is the only place where it can not be shaken, where it is never changing, and where there is no amount of exercise, money, make up, followers, or ‘likes’ that can make us any more or any less in His eyes.
YOU can do whatever you put your mind to, just don’t let it define you. Maybe it’s not running. Whatever it is though, you can do it. And this does not just go for exercise. Whatever you want in life, your dreams, your goals; give it your all, be patient, don’t give up when roadblocks come, and lean on those around you. Most importantly, use the talents you’ve been given for the Lord and do everything for His glory. I have met many amazing people because of this hobby and can’t wait to see what else may come from it.
If you made it this far thank you for reading and indulging in my personal journey with running! 🙂 I hope this has been somewhat encouraging to you.