Life Lessons from Running: A Beginner’s Journey

 

running

About 3 weeks ago I checked off an item from my bucket list by running my first half marathon.  I don’t consider myself to be much of a runner, but preparing for this feet was quite an experience.  I wanted to share what an unlikely runner, like myself, learned on this journey.

I am not a runner. I don’t know how to run. I don’t like running. This is what I always told people about myself when anything involving running came up. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized these were false limiting beliefs I was projecting onto my life as a truth. He thought it was ridiculous that I couldn’t run and helped me prove to myself that I was indeed capable of it.

running photo

my number one supporter & motivator, my husband.

The first few times we went for a jog felt like pure torture. I couldn’t breathe, I felt gross and sweaty, I was bored, and quickly became tired. It was so uncomfortable and I never looked forward to it at all. He kept encouraging me to keep at it though, so I did. Eventually, I became committed to proving myself wrong about not being able to run. I began to believe I could do it! That’s when I started to see a little progress.

 

Beginnings are Hard… but worth it 

My first 5k felt like a marathon but I was incredibly proud of myself for completing 3.2miles without stopping.  My next goal was to complete a 10k. It was painful and less than pleasant but once again so fulfilling when I completed it. I was happy with how far I had come, but now I’d get back to my usual strength training. I told myself I had enough of this running thing for a while. Well here we are a year later and somehow this husband of mine convinced me I could do a half marathon. I even put it on my 2015 goals list.

bib and sneakers

I set out to complete a 12-week Hal Higdon training plan in preparation for this half. Training felt annoying some days because I was just tired of running and even a little bored. Slowly though, things changed as I looked forward to my runs.  I was excited to log more and more miles in an attempt to challenge myself. My once bored mind began to feel recharged and ready for life during and after these runs.

It’s always so hard to get started with anything worth pursuing in life, but once you find your rhythm and believe in yourself, suddenly, things become smoother and clearer. You realize you CAN and you indeed WILL accomplish this.  The important thing is to start where you are. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide I could run 13.1 miles. I started so humbly, trying to just run 1 mile without dying. What I’ve come to love about running is that I can determine my own goals.  Remember that nothing worth doing ever comes easy.

waiting at the starting line

 

Expect the Unexpected  

Life is funny in that you can plan all you want, but life will just laugh at you because it has its own plans. I tried to adhere to the training as best as I could. I was ready to start my tapering the week before when out of no where I was bed ridden with, first, flu-like symptoms, followed by a stomach virus. Not only could I not run or cross train the week before my race, but I also could barely keep any food down. I worried all of my time and efforts in training would be wasted.  Luckily, I was well enough to participate on race day, but still not quite fully recovered. I know this affected my performance but just to make things even more exciting, there were other unexpected elements on the day of… the weather and elevation! Asheville, beautiful as she might be, is also very mountainous.  It is also much colder there.  The race course had elevations up to 2333ft, and I felt like I was running up and down mountains the entire time. It was tough and I became so frustrated at myself for not doing more hill runs or preparing better.

Mind over Matter Mentality 

As I ran the 13.1 mile course my mental strength & endurance were definitely tested. I was frustrated by the elevation and found my body feeling weak early on.  I found myself focusing on my frustration instead of enjoying the run.  Your thoughts really do become your reality. The minute I noticed how negative my thoughts were, I was able to intentionally focus on more positive things. I reversed the negative thoughts into positive affirmations. Instead of “I hate these freaking hills” I told myself “These hills are going to be great for tightening my glutes” and “This is hard, but it’s making me stronger.” I found these positive reflections to be encouraging in helping get through several frustrating miles.

 

Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever

It was around mile 10 that I began to feel a sharp pain down my leg and knee. My IT band had tightened up and I found myself barely able to run on my left leg.  I seriously considered quitting at this point.  I wondered if one of the bystanders cheering us on would drive me to the finish line.  Then I remembered all of the hours spent training and how disappointed I would be at myself for not completing this race.  I acknowledged that I was in pain but knew I just couldn’t quit no matter how long it would take me to get through the last 3 miles.  I had come too far to stop now.  When you invest so much of yourself in something, you can’t just walk away and give up on it once an obstacle blocks your efforts.  I learned from this experience that pain, obstacles, and difficulties are all part of the journey.  The way that I responded to each of these things would determine how I experienced my journey.  If I would have quit when things became a little tough, I never would have succeeded. Perhaps it took me a lot longer to finish the race then others, but I learned so much about myself, gained confidence, became stronger, and still got that medal!

 running photorunning photo

I hope my story inspires you to do that thing you’ve always felt too uncomfortable to pursue.  Don’t try to compare yourself to anyone.  If you keep your end goal in mind, there are no limits that can be put on you.  Have a YOU vs. YOU mentality, striving to only compete with yourself and no one else.

I’m proud of myself for being a half marathon finisher. There may be another 13.1k in 2016 for me, but with a flatter course this time.

 

with Love,

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Quit Dieting & Get Healthy

quit dieting

I was a girl that loved chocolate milk, bread and butter, and the Double Decker Supreme at Taco Bell (hold the tomatoes). My parents tell me I was a pretty big candy addict too, throwing tantrums if I didn’t get my sugar fix. I remember eating McDonalds for lunch almost every day my senior year of high school. On the rare occasion that I had fruits it was usually strawberries dunked in sprinkled with sugar, because I didn’t think they were sweet enough otherwise. I was a picky eater, not caring for anything “green”—you know, like broccoli, spinach, avocados—or any other fruits and vegetables for that matter.  I was completely ignorant about nutrition and the implications it can have on a person’s health.

When I started college I was tired of struggling with my weight and confidence; being unable to keep up with sports, and dealing with asthma. I was now independent and completely responsible for what I ate. I decided to get “healthy.”

Unfortunately my definition of health was so far off. I though healthy meant skinny, as so many misinformed women think today. I went on a calorie-restricted diet and incorporated a lot of cardio. Of course I lost weight this way, but in no way was I healthy. I was tired! Mentally and physically I was dragging. I was excited to finally wear a size 2 but that excitement quickly faded when I realized this diet was not sustainable and was depriving my life of so much joy. I would panic thinking about my next meal or going to a social event. I cycled from eating whatever I wanted, then feeling guilty and trying to cut calories for a few days to “make up the difference.” My weight fluctuated as a result.  It was not until I found the book “The Food Revolution” by John Robbins that my life changed and I quit dieting. Today I stand firm in the truth that food is not fear, it is fuel.

Any diet that deprives your life of joy is not a healthy one.

I learned about plant-based eating. Reading all of the evidence based benefits and research this type of lifestyle promised made it all the more alluring. I decided, after reading that book, that I wanted to feel my very best, be healthy, and heal my relationship with food.

I began focusing on eating more whole, unprocessed plant foods by incorporating fruits and vegetables into each meal and snack. It took some trial and error, and a lot of listening to my body, but eventually I learned what foods I thrived on and which ones did not work so well for me. It’s been 4 years now, and I continue to follow this way of eating pretty consistently.

This time I wasn’t following a diet, I was changing my lifestyle.

diet

These are a few of the benefits I experienced as a result of switching to a sustainable, plant focused way of eating:

  1. I haven’t used my asthma inhaler in 4 years
  2. My taste buds changed (flavors are so much bolder to me now)
  3. I fell in love with fruits and veggies, which I previously despised
  4. Feel stronger and more energized
  5. I don’t get sick as often (or as severely)
  6. Healthy relationship with food
  7. I have found balance by focusing on overall wellness- physical, mental, emotional
  8. Reduced cravings
  9. Renewed confidence
  10. I’m not afraid of that scale!

MybeforeAfter

Today I can confidently tell you I am on a growth path. I completed a course at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to receive my certification as a holistic health coach. I’m constantly learning about nutrition, finding ways to continually improve my own health, as well as help others find ways to positively change theirs.

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I hope sharing my story will inspire you to learn more about health and wellness, and as a result make some positive changes in your own life. If you’re looking for a little guidance I’m happy to help.

*** Please share your story and/or thoughts in the comments below or email me at PrescribingHealth@gmail.com ***

Until next time, 

health coach

 


[ Always check with your physician before making any major dietary changes or increasing the physical demands on your body. ]

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