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Jen’s Ode to Running

Posted Oct 02 2010 6:45am
While I’m caught in no-computer-limbo, Jen graciously volunteered to guest post for me. I’m very excited about this post, because it’s going to kick off a new series here on Health on the Run!

For those of you that don’t know, Jen is currently training for 2 marathons and hopes to qualify for Boston this fall. She’s one of my favorite runners and her passion for the sport is contagious. But every runner has to start somewhere — most of us weren’t actually born running. Which is why I asked her to write a post about her path to becoming a runner, and how it has become such an important part of her life. In other words, I asked her to write her own Ode To Running.

Hi, Health on the Run Readers! I’m Jen from This Runner’s Trials . Lauren asked me to guest post for her, and since she is one of my favorite bloggers and friends, I jumped at the chance :)

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Running is my most treasured passion, and it’s how I define myself. But this wasn’t always the case.

I didn’t set out to become a runner and I have no weight loss success story. My love affair with running was not pre-meditated. In fact, I never saw it coming.

I joined the track team freshmen year of high school because I was sick of softball. My favorite part of that sport was running the bases. Becoming a sprinter seemed like a natural fit for me.

I ran short distance for 4 years, and was pretty decent at it. I loved going fast, enjoyed hanging out with my friends, and there were hot boys on my team. What more could a teenager ask for?

But I was also plagued by shin splints. I couldn’t run for more than 2 laps around the track (a half mile) without feeling intense pain. I never ran an entire mile continuously my whole track career.

In college, I tried out for the crew team. I made the team and was pretty decent. I loved the feeling of being on the water, competing, hanging out with my friends, and checking out the hot guys on the men’s team (my boy craziness worked out for me; I eventually married a teammate).

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Rowing and I were a match made in heaven. Except for one part of it: running. Sometimes we had “land” workouts where we’d have to run for 3 miles or so. I couldn’t do it… because of my shins.

I was sent to months of physical therapy trying to fix the problem. We eventually did (turns out I was running toe-heel instead of heel-toe because of my years as a sprinter). Even though the issue was solved, I was still terrified of running. I’d tell my coach my shins still hurt so I could do a different land workout instead. I was really just afraid of failing.

The summer between my junior and senior years of college- that all changed.

My mother got a call that a very close family friend was in a car accident and was left brain dead. He was on life support, and was going to be taken off that evening. We were going to the hospital as soon as my dad got home in a couple of hours.

I didn’t know what to do. I had never lost someone so unexpectedly. My heart ached for his wife and children. I told my mom I was going to workout. “Workout” meant I was going to the gym to use the rowing machine or elliptical.

But my car didn’t take me to the gym that day; it took me to my favorite park where I usually walked my dog. But for some unknown reason, on this day, I ran.

Sure my run was really a run/walk. I was in shape but not in running shape. I just enjoyed being alone with my thoughts.

For the next year, I continued to run. I ran a few days each week for 30 minutes to an hour each time. I had no idea how far I ran or what my pace was. And I didn’t really care.

Then some friends asked me to run a 10k race with them. I had no idea if I could run that distance, but I signed up anyway.

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I ran it and had a ball. I finished the race in just over 51 minutes, won my age group, and took home a trophy.

I had never been so proud of myself. I spent my whole life being mediocre and was always just pretty decent at everything I did. But on this day, I was the best! (I even beat that crew teammate who turned out to be my husband ;) )

But it wasn’t the trophy that made me so proud; It was the fact that I did something I never thought was possible. I assumed I couldn’t even run 10 minute miles, so running a 10k at a much faster pace filled me with so much joy.

Running helped me get through grad school, cope with family illness and made wedding planning tolerable. Running also made the good stuff better. The day I landed my first real job, I had one of the best runs of my life.

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Running brings me clarity and boosts my self-esteem. I don’t settle for being mediocre anymore. I now pour my heart into everything I do, because running has shown me that with hard work anything is possible.

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Not too long ago, I was the girl who couldn’t run a mile. Now, I’m the girl who runs marathons and dabbles in triathlons. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

Thank you so much Jen, for sharing your running story! If you’re interested in hearing more about Jen and her trials, I encourage you to check out her awesome blog This Runner’s Trials .

Finally, I am putting out a call to runners of all shapes, sizes and speeds to help me spread the love of running! If you’ve got a running story and you’re interested in contributing to the Ode to Running series, please send me a message through the blog or email me at lauren [at] healthontherun [dot] net. You don’t have to be training for a marathon or competing in triathlons to be a part of this. I firmly believe that if you run, you are a runner. Period. It doesn’t matter if you run 1 mile a week or 100, if running has impacted you in some way, I’d love to hear your story!

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