|Source: Instagram user rlvnt__|
As a teenager, I used to think I didn’t have strong enough legs for running. All my friends joined the track team in high school, and I opted for diving and field hockey. Let’s keep it real – diving was fun and field hockey had the cutest uniforms.
In college, I used to think I didn’t have a strong enough mind for running. My sorority sisters would get out there in the 90+ degree Arizona sun and run. Run away their hangovers, run to get in better shape. I tried a few times, but it hurt!! My legs ached, I became short of breath… and I just figured I wasn’t born a runner.
And now I’ve realized – no one is born a runner. It’s not about strong legs or a strong mind. All you need to be a runner is strong ass heart.
This past Saturday I headed up to Waleska, Georgia with two girlfriends to run 9.6 miles around (and up!) Garland Mountain. The trail was incredible – portions were an old logging road that was conducive for picking up my pace and really pushing it. The 1100′ elevation gain over the nearly 10 miles did NOT make PR’ing (PR – Personal Record!) a viable opportunity, but I quickly realized a few miles in that I was out there for fun, and not every race needs to be “won.”
|Post-run smiles! Fourth place in my age group felt great!|
I’ll be honest. At one point – as I stared up at the steep incline that laid in front of me – I thought “OMG. Is it over yet?!” Only to realize I’d barely made it .5 miles in. Truth be told, running isn’t easy. No matter the distance, no matter the surface, I always (at some point) feel tightness in the chest, feel aching in my knees, feel like I can’t take another step.
And then it happens. That “runners high” – usually 4 miles in. My legs feel lighter, my mind clears, and the endorphins hit. This past Saturday happened to be my father’s birthday – and as the miles rolled underneath my feet, thoughts of my dad were on my mind.
When I was 16, my Dad had a heart attack, followed by quadruple bypass surgery to repair the damage to his heart. I couldn’t imagine my life without him, and thanks to the graces of the good man above, I didn’t have to. That whole ordeal really changed my outlook on what it truly means to be healthy. I joined a gym. I changed my eating habits. I made a conscious effort to keep my heart healthy for as long as possible (some heart disease is hereditary!).
I would have never considered myself a runner, but now I get so excited to lace up my shoes and head out for a run. It’s an hour or two of uninterrupted time with yourself. You get your mind to shut up and your heart to speak up. You PUSH yourself with every step. Foot in front of foot, it’s YOU vs YOU the entire way.
Nowadays when I run, I actually feel SAD as I approach my last few miles. When that finish line appears in my line of sight, I always take a deep breath – and remind myself of one thing: this isn’t getting easier, you’re getting stronger.