Running Changed My Life

6 Jun

Today is national running day so I thought it was a good time to write about running. You know…I get asked alot if I really, truly like running. I think so many people associate running with a form of punishment to whip our bodies into shape. A chore that some of us add to our exercise routine to burn fat, to look good, to be healthy.

At the prodding of my best friend, I signed up for my first 5k in 2008. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day at the time. I had been a smoker for half my life and had tried to quit more times than I could count and failed. Every. Single. Time. The problem was I really, truly liked smoking. I ran that 5k, still a smoker, and it sucked. I hated it. At the end of the race she looked at me expectantly, wanting me to love running. I looked at her like she was crazy and vowed to never sign up for another race ever again.

I honestly have no idea how she talked me into running a 10k next. “6.2 stupid, stupid miles” was all I kept repeating in my head. Why did I sign up for this? I had to actually train for this race. I couldn’t just wing it. So I trained. I kept smoking. But something changed when I finished that race…6.2 miles, to me at the time, was a REALLY long way…and I did it. There came a sense of accomplishment. A sense of pride. But inside I felt like a fraud…who can call themselves a runner and still be a smoker?

So I did something really crazy and decided to sign up for a half marathon. I quit smoking. I vowed that as long as I was going to spend the money and do a half marathon, I had to take it seriously. Something happened during training for that first half marathon. I went out diligently for my training runs. Mike joined me with Ava in a jogging stroller. He carried water and paced me. He kept me honest. He decided to sign up for that same half marathon. Our lives began to change…we talked about pacing, injuries, injury prevention and we ran many, many miles together. We did our long runs separately each week. Before I knew it, I started looking forward to the long runs.

My long runs were the only time I had that belonged to just me. No phone. No conversation. No bills. No Facebook. No email. No child. No husband. No friends. No chores. Just me and my thoughts. I wasn’t a wife. I wasn’t a mom. I was just a runner. And I knew as long as I kept running I would not smoke. I started to appreciate my body. The legs I once hated became the legs I adored. Not because they looked awesome but because they were strong and powerful and carried me along the way. My thoughts changed…I learned tenacity, commitment and sacrifice. I fell in love with running. The further I ran, the more I loved it. When everything in my body screamed for me to stop, I kept pushing on. I refused to give up. I counted light poles, trash cans, beach cruisers. I raced people on the bike path. I raced against myself. I raced for imaginary finish lines.

I get asked often, “What do you think about all that time while you run?” You have a of time to think when you spend that much time running…that’s for sure. Mostly I think about nothing and everything. I think about finish lines and seeing the people I love at the end of them. I think about the anticipation as I’m standing in the chute waiting for the race to start. But mostly when I run I just have this immense sense of gratitude for life and everything in it. Running is my meditation. It’s when I let go of everything and just run.

Running changed my life in a lot of ways. It brought me closer to my husband. I finally found something that made me want to quit smoking. I started living healthier. It changed the way I thought about my body. It made me realize that I was a hell of a lot stronger than I ever thought I was, mentally and physically. It taught me about commitment, tenacity and sacrifice. And I really hope that me running, sets a positive example for my little girl. I don’t know what her passions will be, but I hope that seeing her mama run lets her know that she is absolutely capable of anything she sets her mind to as long as she’s willing to put in the work.

Running is my therapy. I live for the long runs, the lost toenails, the sore muscles, the feeling that comes only when I know I’ve left it all out there on the path and given it every single ounce I had. I’m so glad I gave it a chance.

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2 Responses to “Running Changed My Life”

  1. Erica June 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Great post Janice. Running sounds dreamy mcdreamerton to me! I really want to start exercising again regularly and it’s so hard to get it started.

  2. Sharyn Yuloff June 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    You are one f*ly amazing lady and love you…even more for sharing of yourself so openly! Muah!

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