fMy journey with running began in 2009 after confronting some rather unflattering photos, at which time I said to myself, “Ok, woman, you gotta get yourself together and do something about this, you’re only 25 years old!” I had never been a runner in a real sense before. I played soccer in high school, which, yes, is a form of running in itself, but I had never participated in track or strived for time goals or distances. I casually ran a mile or two here and there in college, but never consistently. That day, though, I committed to my first 5k with some other non-runner friends, and we began training together. Our goal race was the annual Jingle Bell 5K that takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Needless to say, after that race, I was hooked. I was inspired by own ability to achieve something I never thought I could and even enjoyed it. From then on, I continued doing 5ks, then upped the ante to 10ks, half-marathons, and eventually ran the Chicago Marathon in October of 2018.
Running has allowed me to not only grow personally in time and distance, but it has allowed me to expand my social circle and develop some of the closest relationships that I’ve ever had. I love running just about anywhere. If it’s a hilly, challenging route through various neighborhoods in town, I prefer to be with others, if for no other reason so someone can listen to me whine. Just ask any of my good running buddies! However, there’s nothing quite like a solo run on a country gravel road as the sun sets and the air is cool and calm. I’ll tolerate heat but give me snow and cold weather any day. It lessens the amount of complaining exponentially. Ya girl can’t tolerate the heat, I guess. Following a good run, like most runners, I think, I love me some carbs. Any form will do: pizza, pasta, bread, ice cream…I’m not picky.
I have unfortunately experienced a variety of injuries related to overuse, from a suspected stress fracture to IT band issues. The problem with my IT band was my first hard lesson learned about the importance of a proper fitting shoe. I think the most important thing for me when dealing with injury is learning patience and grace with myself. While being sidelined does potentially decrease my fitness, creating a potentially more catastrophic problem by not listening to my body helps no one. Overtraining and a fiercely competitive spirit have been some of my biggest pitfalls and barriers in my running journey, and I must admit that social media can play a large part in that. There’s this inherent desire to be better and do more than the next person, and this can not only lead to disappointment and feelings of inadequacy but has arguably been the reason for some of my injuries in the past.
If I had any advice for someone who was thinking about starting a running journey, I’d have to rip off Nike and say, “Just do it”. I’ve learned that there is no true definition of a runner. If you’re moving your body and finding yourself chasing that “high” and loving it, you’re a runner. You don’t have to meet a certain pace or distance you just have to do it and love it. Trust me, if you had asked me 12 years ago if I’d ever picture myself being a runner, I’d have laughed so hard. Yet here I am. Dozens of races under my belt and probably thousands of miles under my feet. I’ve had some of the greatest accomplishments of my life with running and developed some of the best relationships I could have ever imagined. I owe my sobriety to the sport and the people who have supported me through it. There is literally no downside to trying.
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