my running journey

my running journey

I’d like to tell you a little secret about my running journey. The truth is I haven’t always loved running. In fact, there was a time when it was my nemesis. We didn’t exactly see toe to toe. I preferred sports that allowed me to pick flowers in the outfield or stand aimlessly under a goal. I only ran when chased, and I despised being chased. My dad was the committed runner in the family. He logged countless miles and eventually ran over 100 marathons. (Go Dad!) Still, at no point did I ever think I would become a runner.

I was an eater – and a good one at that! Years of mouth-watering, southern food and ginormous portion sizes had caught up to me by the time my senior year of high school rolled around. It’s true what they say, everything in Texas IS bigger, including my waistline. I had to start making better food choices and moving my body. I knew running had kept my dad in shape for so many years, so I thought I would give it a try.

There was no training plan; the only goal was for my pants to fit looser. It was a slow start, and I adopted the “jog-until-you-have -to-walk” method. I’d pick a landmark – the light pole, a stop sign, or a mailbox – and I would run to it. Step by step it got easier. My running progressed to two minutes, and then five, and eventually ten. My mileage increased to the point that dad and I began running together. He coached me on breathing techniques, conquering hills, hydration, and how to listen to my body. I thank his natural running genes, positive coaching, and general badassness for getting me literally and physically over some major hills.

In January 2002, I ran my first half-marathon, and five months later was my first full marathon. The running bug had bitten me, and there was no turning back. That was roughly 15 years ago. Along with many other distances, I have crossed the finish line of 14 half marathons, 16 full marathons, two 50Ks and one 50 miler. Oh yeah, I also reached my goal of wanting to feel better in my pants. Thank you, running!

so many miles, so many memories!  photo medals.jpg

One of my favorite things about running is hearing the different routes traveled to discover the sport. No one has the same story. Some start running track or cross-country early in life, others uncover it on a quest for better health, and not everyone falls in love with running the way I did. It’s certainly not all race medals and roses. Some days are tougher than others; it takes time, commitment, and lots of humor. I’ve learned to never take the run too seriously, and always find a running buddy who can laugh and talk with you mile after mile.

If you’re new to running or think you might be interested in trying it, here’s my advice to you: one foot in front of the other, one mile at a time. That’s the training mantra I used when I started and the same one I use with athletes I work with today. Believe in yourself, and trust the journey (and your coach). You CAN do this!

How long have you been running?  Who was your major influence?  Share your story with me at jess@eathappyrunhealthy.com or in the comments below form.

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