One of the most common questions I get from people is, "have you always loved running?" My answer from them is short and simple; "NO!" To me, running was considered torture. If I was late to practice, I had to run. If we didn't win a game, I had to run. If we played bad, I had to run. See a pattern here? Basically, running was punishment and the thought of running for fun made me laugh. Who runs for fun?! Well... now I do. Its amazing how as humans, if we can change our thoughts about something, we can change our actions.
Looking back, my love for running kind of happened by mistake. A little under 4 years ago, I was in a job I didn't love, a routine that was working against me, and I was not taking care of myself. I wasn't eating right, sleeping enough, or working out on a regular basis.... or even at all. I felt like crap. Plain and simple. I needed to lose weight and get healthy before I let this lifestyle get the best of me. One night, on the couch nonetheless, I decided I needed to do something to get my butt moving and get myself into shape. So what did I do? I signed up for a triathlon. I have never participated in a triathlon. Heck, I had never even ran a 5k in my entire life! So what was I doing signing up for a triathlon where you have to swim, bike, and run?! After I read the 'no refunds/cancellation policy', I started googling training programs and began training the next morning.
I woke up, dug out my workout clothes, laced up and headed down the street to a field to do sprint work. I was supposed to run one length of the field as fast as I could and walk back at a steady pace, and repeat 10 times. I lined up, looked at my watch, and began running. I maybe lasted 20 seconds before I had to stop, and I wasn't even sprinting. 'Ok, don't get down on yourself. That was just a warm-up', I thought to myself. I tried it again. Same thing. I was winded. I was out of shape. I couldn't run. If there is one thing about me that has never changed, it is that I am not a quitter. With that said, I finished the workout and had a nice dose of reality served to me. I have a long. way. to. go.
I continued training, and felt better each week. I began running longer without stopping. I began biking and running in the same workout. I was losing weight, eating healthier, and was a much happier person with this new lifestyle. For the first time in a while, I had a goal and I was going to achieve it no matter what it took.
The day of the triathlon came. It was in Nantucket, so Pat and I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast for the weekend and my parents took the ferry over the morning of the tri. I was so nervous for the race, and didn't want to look like an idiot if I couldn't finish. Even in training, I never did the entire triathlon distance, so there was a lot of unknown territory ahead. I talked to other participants, and they assured me this would be one the best experiences of my life. They were right. I finished the tri, and I finished strong. I felt great! Crossing the finish line at that race was a moment I will never forget. It showed me I can do whatever I put my mind to, and also that I am the only person who can make changes to my life. I left my old lifestyle behind and developed a new love for health and fitness, and never looked back.
After the triathlon, I signed up for 2 more. I was hooked. However, when I wasn't training for them, I found myself running anyway. I began incorporating my run into my daily schedule. It was just as important as eating or sleeping. I would get upset if I had to miss a run, and even wake up an hour earlier just to squeeze it into a busy workday. At the grocery store, I found myself picking up the latest "Runners World" over the latest "Vogue". After 6 months of steady running, I came to a scary realization. I am a runner.
As I finished up my first (real) week of marathon training last week, I felt great. Even though I ran in the rain, and ran in a small burst of snow flurries for about 15 mins on Monday, I was feeling good! I was able to cross train in the gym on my non-running days (cybex arc trainer, spinning, strength training) and taught a lot of yoga which helped stretch my body out. I began my first round of fundraising messages for Dana-Farber ( http://www.rundfmc.org/2012/heatherR ) so it is safe to say, I am on my way!
So looking back, it is obvious running didn't come easy to me. It was always a challenge, and still is, but the difference between then and now is that I have since overcome that mental barrier that was holding me back. Whenever I am having a day where I am not running well and start to get discouraged, I always think back to my first day of running on that field 4 years ago and smile :)
Stay warm , and happy running!