The Athlete and the Unlikely Runner

“You have to run less than an 8 minute mile to make the varsity team.” - This literally has been the single thing creating such a bias in my head about running.

I grew up as a three-sport athlete and loved every minute.  I practiced, and I practiced A LOT to get better.  I played volleyball, basketball, and softball in high school and I worked hard to become a junior college national softball pitcher, and wouldn’t you know… I was nationally ranked my freshman year of college.  Now my backstory probably would lead you to think that I ran every season… every week to stay in shape. 

NOPE, not even close. 

I hated sprints and running because it was always the PUNISHMENT for not doing something well enough.  Coaches, listen up - teach running as a cardiovascular endurance gain for your athletes, do not only use it as a means to an end if a practice or drill goes incorrectly.  

I think the stigma of being a fast runner, and having a specific time was so ingrained in me as a teen, it wasn’t until now that I really allowed myself to become such an active member in the running community.  I am a runner.  I am not a SLOW runner, I am a runner and that is something I am proud of.  Please all you “slower” runners, stop labeling yourself.  This is something my #badassladygang helped me through.  I now focus less on my time and more about the experience. 

Doing something for yourself that is making your body stronger? Enjoy it, live it, breathe it, and be proud of it. 

Jimmy Buffett is my hero. (Seriously… I have a tattooed parrot playing the guitar, and lyrics etched on my back.)  He said something that is so important, not only in life, but also in my running:  “Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.” Well, Jimmy, you did it again - you made me realize that life is fun, amazing and enjoyable.  All these things go through my mind EVERY run, EVERY race, EVERY time. 

Now, do not get me wrong, I am not winning races or outpacing my last run.  I am comfortable where I am;  to make small positive changes continuously throughout my life, but also LIVE. 

I am working on conquering self-doubt and taking one run at a time, but I am pretty sure running…saved me.  I have consistently been on anxiety meds and on a rollercoaster every day… when I run I do not feel like I am anxious, I am able to take time for myself. I am proud to say I am currently decreasing dose by dose, and I know that RUNNING has been something that has provided a much healthier outlet for my anxiety and stress.  

So if someone saw me in college, they probably assumed I was fast as hell, what they didn’t know is that running terrified me.  Do not put unnecessary stigmas on yourself like I did.  If you run, you’re a runner.  If you teach, you’re a teacher.  If you run in your sports bra, well damn you’re just amazing.  Live the positive vibe life and be able to see past the walls you put up for yourself.

It is truly amazing what you and your body can do.