What Happened when I Couldn’t Say No to Running
After a particularly tough time in my life (pre-kids), I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. I made a vow to myself: I could not say no to anything, unless it would harm myself or others.
A broad and somewhat ridiculous vow, I know, but it helped me in a huge way: I could not make excuses when it came to trying new things and experiences.
The proverbial push really came to shove when my friend Kristy (perhaps preying on my vow, perhaps not) asked me to train and do Philadelphia’s 2008 Broad Street Run with her. It was a 10-mile race, I’d have plenty of time to prepare, and we could do it together. I would (most likely) not harm myself or others in the process.
I knew what my answer had to be. I had to keep the vow to myself. But there was one problem: I was NOT a runner.
The “Not a Runner” Gives it a Try
I was an exerciser at the time—fitness classes, workout videos, etc. I was relatively fit. But other than the occasional hated jaunt on the treadmill when other cardio machines at the gym were full, I had never attempted running outside of high school gym class. Even then, my gym class grades that quarter were less than stellar.
Against all internal inclinations that I had to say no, I kept my vow and said yes. We started training.
Kristy was a good sport. She had just finished the Philly Marathon before our training for Broad Street started, so she was well ahead of me in terms of skill level. But she paced with me, encouraged me through mental blocks and hills, and stuck with me for all ten miles of Broad Street (even when I was hurting during the last mile or so).
Finding My Own “Runner’s High”
For me, runners’ “highs” never really came during runs. Sure, miles get easier once you find a groove, and running outside on a nice day with good music in your ears can be enjoyable once you gain some confidence in yourself as a runner.
My personal runner’s high comes at the end of runs—when I accomplish what I set out to do.
I had never experienced such a high as when I finished that first 10 mile race. I couldn’t help but cry as I neared the end and caught sight of that bright banner that said “Finish.” I couldn’t help but be carried across by the cheers of the complete strangers (and my Mom) in the stands at the line. I couldn’t help but feel great about myself for finishing that race, even though I wasn’t a “runner.”
After that first race, I craved the high again. I went on to do Broad Street again twice, plus two half marathons and a couple random 5ks and 10ks. I got other friends involved and we ran them together.
Then in 2011, my friend Julie and I got the crazy idea to try a full marathon.
The “Not Runner” Runs a Marathon
We signed up for the 2011 Delaware Marathon. The race was in May. But there was a little hiccup—I had to have surgery that February. But the doctor said I could resume training after a few weeks off, so I pressed on.
I never pictured myself voluntarily giving up five hours of a Saturday to train. Some days it was hard. Some days I wondered why I was doing it. Julie lived in a different state than I did, so our training had to be done separately which made it a little lonely.
But on that day in May, we ran and crossed the finish line together in under five hours. And again, I could not hold back the tears, especially when I got to hug my fiancé at the end.
What I Learned from Running
I went through a lot of changes in that period from 2008 to 2011. While they all weren’t running related, I think that my approach to running was similar to my approach to life at the time.
Running was a mirror of me overcoming self-doubt I had in a lot of areas of my life. It taught me that while I may have not always been the fastest or best girl on the route, I had the endurance to see myself through. It also showed me my own strength, and was a huge positive force in my life. Finally, it brought me closer the people who ran with me; I nurtured relationships I will always treasure.
I’m so excited for the moms who’ve decided to do the FIT4MOM Running Club this year. I can’t wait for them to experience those same feelings, whether it’s the first time or they’ve been there before.
And if you’re on the fence because you’re “not a runner,” or “you’ve always hate running,” or you don’t think your post-baby body can do it, give yourself a shot! You won’t regret it at the end of the session. Sign up with a friend today for $10 off the regular price of $89 for the 8 week session.