Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Of running off the crazy, running off the stress, and running off the calories

You may have noticed I am a runner.

You may have seen it here, here, or here.

I've gone through many stages of running.

STAGE ONE: The new runner
I first ran desperately, gasping for breath, hoping that I wouldn't fall off of the treadmill before I burned a single calorie or ran a single step. In those days, I was just about to turn 30, and three years was long enough to swear that "soon all of this baby weight will fall right off" before I finally realized it was no longer baby weight but just MY weight.

I was 186 lbs. The heaviest I had ever been in my non-pregnant life, and I wasn't happy. I had two little boys to keep up with and I knew if I wanted to do that, I need to get active.

I picked running.

God only knows why I picked running because I couldn't run the length of a soccer field before this without getting a stitch in my side. "I'm just not built for running," I thought. I accepted this and lived my non-athletic life from the stage, behind a debate podium, and in front of a student council.

But here I was now, dying on a treadmill, all for the love of being a more active mom for my two boys.

Also, I was vain. I felt fat.

I ate well, I went from one mile to six. I went from 13 minute miles to 7 minute miles. And I went from 186 lbs to 136 lbs.

I enjoyed that body for about a year! And then? I got knocked up pregnant with twins.

Once again, I gained that "baby weight." And while I might not have hit 186? I spent a good three years hovering in the mid 170s. And despite buying the best jogging stroller I could find (BOB!), I didn't run at all.

Until I moved to California.

Something about moving from 300 days of overcast and cold to 300 days of sunny and warm changed my mentality. And the running was gradual, but the eating better started right away.

STAGE TWO: The casual, social runner
I moved to California and became a raw vegan for the first 6 months of living here. That helped with energy and weight.

And then I became friends with TheAumsMama, a huge force in Santa Cruz living, and I started running again. We ran beautiful places.

We went to beaches, and farms, and ranches. Once day, I was so desperate to see her that I ran through a mountain forest RIGHT AFTER I DONATED BLOOD.

Yeah, I almost passed out on her.

We encouraged each other while we randomly and casually decided that mayyyyybeeee we would run this race or that race. And we did this together until we decided to run our first half marathon.

STAGE THREE: The crazy runner
I ran my first half marathon. It was like being bit by a bug. I finished that race and I was high on run.

And then I ran another. And then I challenged myself to run 15 races in 2015. Before I knew it, it had been five months since I had a month go by that I didn't run at least 100 miles.

And then, one day, I signed up for a full marathon (CHICAGO!!!). It was a lottery. And I got in.

I found myself moving from running several miles at a time a 3-4 times a week to running up to eight miles at a time five times a week.

I became obsessed with the shoes, and the running gear, and the trails. I became obsessed with my heart rate, and my cadence, and my pace.

But I also noticed, I was happier every time I went out for a run.

Kids stressed me out? Go out for a run!

Work got me down? Go out for a run!

Worried about bills? Go out for a run!

Concerned about running? Go out for a run!

Running became the place where I could clear my head. It became my sanctuary, my meditation, my happy place. When I started a run, nothing could get between me and the pavement. Yes, my thoughts were still there, but they would slip away, and I would realize I am strong, I am relentless, I am motivated, nothing can stop me, there will be a solution, I don't have to know the answer right now--the answer right now is a run.

I found ways to challenge myself (ten miles a day for ten days) and I have found ways to improve (hello, strength training!).

Running has been my best friend when I need someone to just be there and say nothing. Running has brought me some of my biggest accomplishments. Running has taught me how to accept difficulty and strife and running has taught me nothing is impossible.

Running also makes me feel like a badass who has a tribe, even if I don't see that tribe everyday, even if I normally run alone.

I honor myself with a run, my health--both physical and mental--with a run. And in return, the run takes away the calories, the stress, and the crazy.

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