What running marathons has done for my life and why I want to share it in this blog.
I got hooked on running early. Some of my earliest memories are of racing family and friends across empty parking lots. I got my first set of stitches from falling when running down the street (& the second set was from cycling -- a prophetic combo). I remember my school's 2nd-grade mile race like it was yesterday.
The adrenaline of the competition was a rush. I felt so free & empowered and I loved the feeling of being fast. I love what happened when I pushed myself and I particularly loved it when I passed some boys.
Fast Forward to High School
Fast forward to high school and I still loved to run. I ran for the high school track team my freshman year and somehow got to the Pennsylvania WPIAL track meet for the 2-mile event. I didn't place -- or even really run that great, for that matter -- in the state event, but the rush of starting to move somewhere with my running fueled me.
My rush stopped dead in its tracks, though. On one summer morning pre-season cross country training run, my IT band seized up and rendered me close to unable to walk, not to mention run.
I was devastated. Running was not just my sport, it was me. And unfortunately, 3 sports doctors later -- including the Pittsburgh Steelers' orthopedic surgeon -- and we still didn't have a remedy to the pain. I was given no choice but to give up running.
Finally, An Answer
After a grieving period, I moved on from running and into other hobbies in high school. I started cooking even more than I had been previously and I got more into academic clubs & pursuits. I started to find other ways to stay fit or ran non-competitively over shorter distances.
When I got to college, however, I met a really good friend who was (and is!) a super gifted runner. She was training for a marathon and eventually, I started joining her on training runs. I thought I might train for the Chicago Marathon.
The training was fun, but it was short-lived. My IT band intervened again and this time I was on crutches. I was crushed -- would I ever be able to run again? Why was this thing I loved so much seemingly so "off limits"?
Somehow, amidst my crazy course load and without having a car, I got myself down to Chicago to see an orthopedic surgeon, again. I didn't have hope that he would cure me, but I was hoping for relief from the pain.
The doctor walked in with his resident. After a quick consultation, the resident asked me to lay down. Once reclined, he gave my leg a gentle but firm pull. Within moments, I felt my hip relax and all the pain from my IT band flood out of my body.
I was in shock and so thankful. The doctor assigned me physical therapy to re-strengthen and even out my hips and I was on my way to being pain-free again.
But life and other messages intervene
I wish I could say this is where the story ends, but it isn't. After that intense pain, I was grateful for feeling better but didn't want to push it. I started to think that previous messages I'd received of marathons and high mileage being bad for women were true, so I tried to just let any notions or big goals for running die.
So I continued on with life, staying pretty active through other exercises. I even had a pretty solid foray into road cycling. Life got busy, though, and I had a few close calls with cars so I decided -- pretty easily -- to let that go.
Around the time we moved to Colorado, I started to evaluate all the different messages I believed that held me back, both personally and professionally. Running was definitely one of those areas.
If I was smart about my hip issue and worked into training slowly, could I run a marathon? Why did I even blindly accept these messages that I "couldn't do that"?
And more importantly, why was I even asking myself if I even could? I started to replace any doubts or questions with "if I am smart about this and work up to the distance, I will be able to run this marathon."
So, within three days of moving to Colorado, I decided to start training for my first marathon (while also adjusting to the elevation!). It was sobering being at paces that were 4 minutes a mile slower than I had run in high school, but I kept with it. And on my 31st birthday, I completed my first marathon.
What I learned from my first marathon.
I don't say this lightly when I say that marathon running changed my life. To this day, I can't watch any race or marathon without crying. Overcoming limiting ideas in one area of my life directly corresponded to overcoming them in other areas of my life. I'm so grateful to this sport and this amazing community for teaching me that.
I also learned that I need to fuel my body for success. When it comes to marathoning, what I put in my body -- both in quantity and quality -- directly relates to my performance. Marathon running helped me to finally get my relationship to food straightened out. Food is what fuels me, not what plagues me.
Finally, I learned to take care of and listen to my body. Whether it is by getting enough sleep, doing yoga, stretching, or simply running my easy runs easy and my hard runs hard, I've learned to take care of my body so it can take care of me over the long haul.
What this running blog will be about.
Overall, my goal with this blog is to help share the joy and love of running so other people (i.e. you!) can experience the power of it in their (your!) lives. To that end, there are many topics I plan on covering and questions I plan on answering. Topics and questions such as:
- How I've run a faster marathon time
- How I fuel for best running performance
- How I learn and grow from both positive and negative running & racing experiences
- How to improve overall running speed & stamina
- What type of running recovery foods & exercises work best for me
- What cross-training I do for running.
- And, of course, stories about running with my insanely fit but insanely rabbit crazy dog, Allie.
I'm not a running coach and I'm not a dietician, but I hope that by sharing my experience I can help you find more joy through running.
Hearing from you
What about you? What is your running story? I'd love to hear more about it. Feel please share in the comments below or DM me on Instagram. Also, please let me know if there any particular running topics or questions you'd like me to cover in future posts and I'll try my best to include those as well.
Thanks for reading and being on this journey with me. I look forward to all that is ahead!