If you would have told me five years ago that I would be signing up to run a marathon in 2015, I would have laughed out loud! I have always been fairly active, but running was never a part of my rotation. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say I used to despise it. Until 2012, the only time I had run intentionally was back in school when I was forced to run in gym class. I’m sure I ran a couple of miles on a treadmill in college or at the gym a few times. But until recently, I would have chosen ANY OTHER form of exercise other than running. Little did I know back then that running actually has very little to do with just “getting exercise”. Sounds corny, but for me, it is so much more.
I began running in the fall of 2012 a few months after my third child was born. I had taken off most of the 35 pounds I had gained during my pregnancy, but was still a good 20 pounds heavier than my goal weight. I became bored of using my elliptical machine in my hot garage staring at my husband’s tool belt on a messy shelf full of dead spiders. I was also a little envious of my husband who was training for his first marathon at the time. I felt I deserved the opportunity to get out and escape the craziness for awhile too. So one day, I did.
While on vacation I decided to go for a short run on the beach. I only made it a couple of miles. When we returned home I began running a little further every time. Knee troubles had always kept me from running (or maybe I used them as an excuse not to), but somehow the more I ran, the knee issues disappeared. So did the extra weight I was carrying around. The next spring I ran my first race, the Chagrin Falls Blossom Run, a challenging 5.25 mile course. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go further. That summer I ran a couple of 10Ks, winning my age group in one of them. It was exciting to find something that I was actually sort of good at that I had never even tried before. That’s when I officially “caught the running bug” and in the fall of 2013 I ran my first half marathon, the River Run Half Marathon outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I have run three more since, including the Cleveland Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon (Fall 2013), the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon (Spring 2014), and the Akron Half Marathon (Fall 2014). Last April my husband and I ran the Big Sur Marathon in Big Sur, CA as a relay team. I completed about 16 miles for our team. We are returning to run the race again in 2015. My distance will be determined by how much training I can get in during the snowy winter weather here. I also have entered the lottery to run the 2015 New York City Marathon in November.
So, what caused me to change my relationship with running from hate to love?
Here are 10 Reasons Why I Run:
- FREEDOM – No purse with diapers, wipes, pacifiers and snacks. No children asking for anything and everything. No to-do list. Nothing. Just me, myself and I. When the opportunity presents itself, I literally just run away from everyone and everything. It is liberating. And once I’ve run as far and fast as I can and let go of all my stress and frustration, I run back home ready to embrace it all and start fresh.
- THE GREAT OUTDOORS – When I say I love running, I don’t mean on a treadmill. My love affair is with the road, the trail and all the landscapes that surround me. There is nothing quite like the feeling of your own feet pounding the pavement, moving you through this great planet; over rivers, through forests, past farms, up mountains and down valleys. From one village to the next. You take it all in; the cold winter air, the trickling water, and the singing of birds. Getting outside for a run feeds my soul.
- THERAPY – When I’m running, I literally let it all go. I run to get rid of the crazy. I sweat it out, I breathe it out, I run it out. Seriously, it is free therapy. My other source… wine!
- IT’S FREE – What else can I say? No gym membership needed. No class times to work around. Just walk out the door.
- RACES – Training is the hard part. Making it to a race is the reward. While I’m almost always nervous, the excitement at the start is palpable and energizing. The pride I feel when crossing the finish line is hard to describe.
- GREAT EXERCISE – It’s no secret that running is a great exercise. You burn calories like mad and it’s a great cardio workout. It helped me lose the remainder of my baby weight and reshaped my body. It has helped me get healthier than ever before.
- MY OWN MUSIC – I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of listening to the Frozen soundtrack and Toddler Pandora. I know, running with music is for amateurs. Guess what? I don’t care what other people think. While I usually turn off the tunes when I trail run so I can pay attention to the rocks and roots, my time running is when I get to jam to my favorite songs. You can hear some of them if you scroll to the bottom right hand side of this page.
- START & FINISH – There are very few things in life, that have a start and a finish. The laundry, the dishes, picking up toys, the to-do list; they seem never ending. You clean up one room and move on to the next. When you return, a new mess has been created where you began. When I run, I know that I answer only to myself. I am in charge of what get’s accomplished. When I walk back in the door I will feel a huge sense of achievement because I finished what I set out to do. I can check it off the list and say, “Check! Done!”
- FEEL ALIVE – When I’m running, especially long distances, there is a feeling that comes over me that is almost impossible to put into words. Some call it a “runner’s high.” With the sun beaming down on me, or the wind or rain or snow in my face, my fingers and toes are numb or I am drenched with sweat. The cold air rushes in and out of my lungs, my heart is pounding, my feet are aching. Yet I persevere and push as hard as I can through all of it. I am working and feeling with every piece of my body. To some that might sound awful, but to me it is empowering.
- SELF-DOUBT TO SELF-LOVE – Before a run, especially a long one, I am always nervous. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to run as far as I’m planning, but there is a lot of self-doubt. But then, I go out and kill it. Us stay-home-mom’s rarely get a pat on the back for doing a good job at our daily tasks. There is no pay-check or no annual review. Instead we hear people complain about their food, their clothes, and their chores. When you meet a running goal, you give yourself a pat on the back. There is no better feeling than running through the self-doubt, achieving a goal and realizing that you are capable of so much more than you thought possible. It transcends every part of your life.
I’m not going to lie, there are certainly moments while I’m running where I don’t love it. Like when my bunions cause me foot pain, when I have a cramp in my side that won’t go away, or when I’m at mile 8 of a half marathon and I’m feeling like I can’t finish another mile. But for me, the good outweighs the bad in so many ways. Like running, life has its tough up-hill battles and its joyful downhill valleys. For me, running has not only changed my body, it has changed the way I approach life. It helps me feel like I can tackle any challenge and nothing is impossible. I am a better parent and a better person because of it, living my life to the fullest and making my dreams come true.
Any of that sound appealing? Maybe you want to give running a try. Or maybe you have and you can’t make it past two or three miles. Join me on my next adventure as I train for my upcoming race, the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26th. Later this week I will share my training plan (adapted slightly from Hal Higdon’s program). And I always share beginner and intermediate running tips and tricks here and on my Facebook page as well. I’d be thrilled to have you along for the ride (or, run, I suppose). 🙂
Tell us, why do you love to run? Why do you hate to run?
What are your running goals?