Last week I asked for your selfies and your stories. I have been overwhelmed with your hilarious and wonderful selfies as well as your inspiring and brave stories about why you started running. So, I want to introduce a new series of blog posts. Every Monday I am going to post a new story of “It All Started When…” featuring your stories of why started and continue to run. Before I share yours, I wanted to start with my own. You’ve already seen my selfies (and boy are there more coming!) but I wanted to shine a light on why I started running. I’ve shared bits and pieces, small peeks into my background, but here it is from the beginning.
I’m new(ish) to the running community. Like I said, I started running on Thanksgiving Day 2012. (FYI Thanksgiving is the perfect run-niversary. Helps alleviate some of the guilt when you go back for your fourth plate.) I was six months out of college and living at home with my parents. I had been feeling self-conscious and overwhelmed with where I was in my life from the moment I moved home. I had graduated with my degree in Theatre Arts. Going to school to be an actor is sort of like going to Hogwarts. I was proud of my degree and had an incredible college experience but no one cared. Employers couldn’t really do anything with me. None of my Professors sugar coated what I would encounter when I left college. I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t do anything in theater or film for years. Finding paying work as an actor is near impossible. So I worked to save money to move to Manhattan.
I worked 9-5 and had copious amounts of free time. For four years I spent 12 to 14 hours on campus going to school, working on projects, surrounded by creative and driven people. Then college was over and I found myself isolated. And then the guy I was dating broke it off. So after a restless night of tossing and turning, I watched the sun rise and wanted to get out of the house. My local gym was my only escape since I had moved home and it was closed because of the holiday. I put on my workout clothes and got up to go for a run.
I wasn’t a runner. I didn’t see the appeal. I remember in high school when they would make us run the mile. It was torture. I couldn’t imagine the day where I would wake up excited to go run for an hour. But that summer I had watched my best friend Irene run her first marathon. Her family, my sister and I all stood at the finish line with silly signs watching hundreds of runners of all shapes, sizes and ages, with looks of exhaustion and elation, cross the finish line. For months Irene talked about how marathon training had been an incredible experience. Then watching her cross the finish line changed my mind about running. The seed had been planted.
The morning I started running, I got to the end of my block when I had to stop to walk because I was out of breath. I decided I would walk for ten minutes and then run for two minutes. And an hour and a half later I was home and feeling a sense of ease and accomplishment.
I can’t even begin to tell you how sore I was when I woke up the next morning. I had hardly run! Hoping to alleviate the discomfort of the lactic acid build up, I got up and went to for another walk/run. I did the same thing; I walked for 10 minutes and ran for two. After a week of getting outside and being alone with my thoughts, I was beginning to feel like myself again. My best friend Irene encouraged me to keep running. She was running the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland in January and wanted me to run it with her. I had my goal.
The first month of running, in my opinion, is the hardest. Running is mental and it’s very easy to stop, give up or turn around, especially when you don’t have the stamina to run effortlessly. But the day you get through two or three miles is an incredible day. And the day that you get through two or three miles and you’re not out of breath, SAY WHAT!?! It happens. That day comes. My advice is to start with a goal. What do you want to do? Do you want to run a 5k or a 10k? Do you want to run a half marathon or a marathon? Do you just want to be able to get out of the house for 30 minutes? Whatever it is set a goal and set a goal date. Plan your week out. Know what is coming and when you will get your runs in. Then tell people. Hold yourself accountable. Training can be time consuming so sacrifices are going to be made. But they are worth it!
There are tons of apps out there to get you running. I use RunKeeper. I know I should invest in a Garmin GPS running watch but I’m lazy and I love RunKeeper because it’s effortless. Every ten minutes it tells me my time, how far I’ve run, my current pace and my overall pace. And you can customize those options. Their training plans are extremely doable and they are spot on. You decide when you want to run a race or what your goal distance is and it maps out every run you will do to make that happen.
I ran my first half marathon in 2 months and I’m not going to lie; I was incredibly under-prepared. I was running 5-6 miles leading into The Tinkerbell half. The Wednesday before the race I was nervous about being able to run all 13.1 miles. Irene told me to try to run for 2 hours straight and see how I did. So I did and 2 hours later I ran 11 miles. Then Sunday came and I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 4 minutes. I couldn’t believe I ran a half marathon. I don’t know if it was the magic of running through Disneyland, the tons of cheering spectators, the foreign Gu I decided to try halfway through or the magical tutu I wore around my waist but I felt accomplished and proud. I wore that medal around my neck like a beacon of hope. Irene asked me if I thought I would want to run a full marathon and I almost choked. I chafed in places I never knew existed. My legs felt like they would never bend again. I told her I could never run a marathon.
Within four months from my first half marathon, I ran another half marathon as well as a full marathon. I have decided to omit “I could never do that” from my vocabulary. “I could never do that” really means “I’m too afraid to fail if I try that” and that is no longer a mentality that serves me. For six months I sat in my parent’s house petrified of what to do next. I had no clue what to do with my life. Running has helped me literally put one foot in front of the other and just start going forward. It has given me something to work towards and be proud of. Not all runs are good runs. Just yesterday I was having a terrible day and went for a run in the cold rain and I cried. You can’t escape yourself when you run. You’re trapped with your thoughts and it forces you to confront yourself. But that’s why I run. We all live through heartbreak, tragic losses, or motivational speed bumps. We all wake up some days wondering what we are doing or how we got here or if we are making the right choices. And that is why I run. To remind myself that I am okay, that I am breathing and I am moving forward: whether I feel like it or not. Just have to put one foot in front of the other.
So there's "Why I Run." Share your story, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And keep those selfies coming! Tomorrow is the first batch of The Great Selfie Challenge!