Please welcome my friend Carrie today! She has made impressive changes in the last few years on her journey to find healthy, and never imagined that running would be part of her story. Carrie and I share similar passions in terms of holistic health, running and eating well. You can get to know her better through her blog, Family, Fitness and Food!
My running story starts out like many others. I hated running as a kid. In fact, my sport of choice growing up was horseback riding. I made the horse do the work. If anyone had told me that I’d get up at 5AM on a weekend to run 13.1 miles on multiple occasions for fun, I’d have called them crazy.
But, here I am. I credit learning to enjoy running to two things: 1) trying to keep up with my super active kids and 2) the experience of a team relay race. I credit my continued enjoyment of running to helping me to stay focused on living healthy for my body and my mind.
After being anti-running for most of my life (and overweight too), I started to adopt a healthier lifestyle a few years ago. I focused mostly on my diet and then started to add in exercise with short treadmill workouts and I slowly built to more intense workouts including the elliptical machine and other cardio equipment.
I thought I was in shape.
Then, my kids began training to earn their Black Belts in Taekwondo. Their training involved an endurance portion which included a lot of running. On the day of their test, they were going to have to run about 5 miles.
Because they were only 7 and 9 at the time, I went along for the training runs. I thought I could keep up. After the first run, I about passed out. The fitness I had achieved from my gym workouts was not enough to get me through about a 2 mile run with a bunch of kids.
I had a goal. Get better. But, I still didn’t like running. I tried to figure out why I didn’t like it. I was slow. Slow was horrible. It took me a long time to figure out that my speed didn’t matter. I had to come to terms with my speed and just take the pressure off of myself to enjoy the outing. I started to look at my runs as just fast walks and to enjoy the scenery and not worry about how long it took. I finally started to enjoy it.
I signed up for my first 5K race a few months later. My goal for the 5K was to finish without having to walk. Turns out that it was a super hilly course on a dirt horse trail and it was hard. I did have to walk up the last hill, but the feeling of accomplishment when I neared the finish line was enough to have me hooked. I set my sights on another race so that I could accomplish that original goal.
I ran a few more 5K’s and then a friend talked me in to running a 10K. That’s when I started following an official training plan. I loved training for the 10K. Building up my mileage base was a huge feeling of satisfaction.
At that point, my childhood best friend talked me into running a Ragnar Relay with her to celebrate her 40th birthday. I was intimidated. I’m still slow. I was running with a bunch of other people far more experienced than I was, in a relay that kind of freaked me out. But, I bit the bullet and joined in.
The relay race was amazing. I learned to enjoy the run and the camaraderie of the running community. I ran with a great group of people and saw how supportive and awesome runners can be. I learned how much of the enjoyment of running is mental. You have to approach a run with a positive mental attitude and give to your run what you want to get out of the run.
Running makes me happy. I get sucked in by the sexiness of running lots of miles. I love hanging medals on my wall. I love the adrenaline of standing at the starting line of a race. I even love the aches and pains from training. I love talking about running and blogging about running. I love to smile and say hi to runners I see out early on the weekends.
Running also helps me focus. I went back to school recently to become a Registered Dietitian. I use my runs to decompress and sometimes to review material and formulas in my head before exams. I’ve learned to approach my coursework like training for a long distance event. Start out slow, trust your body (mind) and you will get there.
Running has become a huge part of my healthy lifestyle. I love to run because it keeps me focused on being healthy. My body cannot run the distances I ask if I don’t fuel it properly and rest when I need to.