I Used To Do Anything To Get Out Of Sports, Now I'm a Marathoner!
I was never the active kid In high school. I would do anything to get out of sports!
"I have a cold."
"I won’t do it!"
And the best teenage girls excuse, ‘I can't, I have my period!’.
If I could go back in time and visit the young me, I would tell her so many things! I would tell her you are strong, and you are capable. It’s not all about winning. Believe in yourself, you have the power to change your life and support others to change theirs. Don’t give up! But if I could only tell her one thing it would be....RUN!
I had been overweight most of my adult life and, through avoiding any sports or activity in my teenage years I had no idea how to go about changing that! Over the years I tried walking every morning, playing netball (which brought back a lot of bad teenage memories) and changing my eating patterns, which all worked, but because it was always an all or nothing strategy with strict rules, I would eventually fall off the wagon and go back to old eating habits and a life of exercise avoidance.
When I saw runners out in the streets I would look at them longingly..... Wow, what beautiful, magical, unicorns! To me, they looked strong, effortless and I was always intimidated when they ran past me! I don’t know why but running really appealed to me. But of course I knew you had to be strong for that, and I have tried to run 100mtrs before and died, so how on earth do you just keep running??
I had some friends who were very casual runners and suggested the couch to 5km app so I downloaded it and gave it a try. It was hard, but I could totally run the intervals. The free version of the app only provided the first week of runs, I became comfortable doing these. The app cost $$ to unlock the rest of the training, I didn’t want to pay (what if I didn’t keep at it? I would have wasted my money) and was too scared to push myself to the next level.
While out on one of those interval runs a guy yelled at me out of his car window and threw his half-eaten apple at me and his friend in the passenger side laughed. I had experienced the runners high, I knew this felt good, I had a fleeting glimpse at what it felt to be a badass runner, but the guy in the car made me realize how stupid I looked out there trying to do it. That was the end of my first attempt. There were two more attempts but neither of them lasted long.
I had an old friend from school who always posted her runs on Facebook and......she looked like a magical unicorn! (she was also a PT) Seeing her run inspired me and gave me the drive to try again.
When I decided to learn to run, I had lost some weight through intermittent fasting and some exercise. I did the 30-day shred and although I enjoyed it, I learned that I get exercise rage! Burpees, planks, squats etc, I get through it, but I’m usually screaming in anger.
I decided to learn to run, I wanted to lose that last pesky 5kg (12pounds). I was a Mum and I needed a cheap form of exercise (no $$ for a gym membership) that would give me good results in the short amount of time I had in the day. I opened up my app, strapped my toddler into the pram and set off to ‘get this shit done!’ I got through the free training and decided it was time to go all the way...... I paid $10 for the FULL version!! Now I had all the power in the world I needed to succeed! I was so determined to make running ‘my thing’ that each day I went running I would do 1 session out and then the same session back, essentially doing walk/ run intervals for 7-8km each workout.
I quickly fell in love with running, it really was everything I had been searching for. Yes it hurt, yes it was hard, yes I was counting down the seconds until that little voice on the app told me I could walk but it made me feel strong.
I had a pair of shoes that gave me blisters and I had blisters on top of blisters but I wasn’t going to quit! I got fitted for new shoes, and I made a pact with myself that I was going to run consistently for a year. I made running the most important thing in my life, of course, I looked after my daughter, I was working part-time and I got food on the table but we had dinner later so I could fit in my sessions and I wouldn’t let myself get out of going for my scheduled runs.
2 years after learning to run, running 30-40kms a week and loving it, I began looking after a little boy at work who was a quadruple amputee, losing his limbs to meningococcal. He was two, and his family and friends were running in the ‘city to surf’ raising money for him. This spurred me on to complete my first half marathon and raise money for him. After 2 years of running this would be my first event! A group of girls from work were all running the 4km and we all raised money for our new little friend together.
On race day, I was on my own. Terrified and excited waiting to cross that start line. My friends were together at their start line, sending through photos of their group. I felt very alone but once I got running, all of that went away. My family was waiting to pick me up at the finish line and I hoped they might see me run the last stretch, I was looking for them on the sidelines. The finish chute was in my sights and I couldn’t believe I had done it! As I ran into the finish chute, the area was blocked off with a first aid tent and walls around it, the cheering crowd at the finish line I had envisioned wasn’t there.
No one. Even. Saw. Me. Finish.
Later I realized something......I was the only one that was supposed to see me finish, this was about me, my goal and I was the one that ran across that finish line!
The year after that, I thought I would do the half marathon again but training went well and I thought ‘I can train for the Marathon’. The thought totally scared me to my core, but I began extending my runs and finally ran my first marathon (my 3rd event). Standing at the start line of that marathon (alone again) I felt the most magical energy. A small group of 700 runners, all waiting to begin an epic journey, with the knowledge we would be out there for 3-4+ hours! A collective of runners who had all trained up to this point and were dedicated enough to tackle such an enormous goal! I will never forget the magic of that day!
After running that marathon something crazy happened! It unlocked a place in my brain and I 100% believe I can do anything in life I want to do! No idea is too crazy! It’s a very freeing and strong feeling to have!
Here's what I've learned over the last 4 years:
•I am strong! Mentally and physically because of running.
•Running is hard! It’s always hard, but with practice, you do get to enjoy your runs.
•Running hurts! It does hurt! Especially in those first few months of running. But your body is building muscle and fitness and getting stronger!
•Keep pushing forward! The reason I didn’t progress when I first began running was because I wasn’t moving through the levels in the app or pushing myself further. I've found that this was the key to begin running, continue progressing and then smashing your goals!
•I am a beautiful magical unicorn. And I see that magic in everyone I encounter out there doing their best and pushing themselves to their impossible.
•Post your runs on social media! You never know who you are going to inspire, what conversations you might start or what new friends you can make.
•Find a village! I live in Australia and am part of the ‘Running Mums Australia’ group and now the #BadassLadyGang. These groups provide a never-ending amount of inspiration and knowledge and I am very grateful they exist.
•Did Running help me lose that last 5kg? No! I am around the same weight as where I began, my body has slimmed down but the scales stayed the same!