I always hesitate when other people refer to me as a “runner”; a weird reaction for someone who runs 4-5 days per week, and has performed relatively well in any of the competitive events I have participated in. To me, “runner” is a reference to those professional athletes who compete in events and are basically superhuman. My personal running adventure will likely never get to this level of intensity, but my relationship with running helps shape the person I am, and in doing so serves as my own personal superhero weapon. Over the course of the next few weeks, to celebrate Share your Strides, I will share insight into my own personal world of running. I have no particular expertise or professional experience—but I can offer you several years’ worth of wisdom based on hundreds of miles of experience. Today I will start at the core—why do I run?
I’ll spare you the long-winded story about how I got into running. I remember my very first run was an utter disaster and I quickly concluded it was not for me, putting up my running shoes for several years. I don’t quite remember how or when I pulled those shoes back out of exile; all I know is that it happened and I haven’t hung them up since. This simple event is the foundation of why I run…because I DID. I am not a runner, but I got those shoes out and I ran. Feeling empowered, I set a small goal for myself- two miles. The rush of accomplishing that goal was incredible, so I set another goal and I reached that too, and this kept going. Pretty soon it became a process—setting lofty goals for myself and then creating “plans” for attaining them. I started receiving positive feedback from friends and family, and that compounded the positive feelings of accomplishment, further encouraging me to continue to push.
And that is the core of it all—why I run. I run because it gives me the opportunity to set goals, to creatively decide how to conquer these goals, and to reflect when I find myself falling short of these goals. I can literally measure success—miles, minutes, pace, etc. I have options to measure progress and deterioration that are objective and firm; and I can find small means of celebrating those small accomplishments in order to stay motivated toward the goal at large.
By trade, I am a mother, a wife, and a social worker—arguably the best jobs in the world, but also some of the hardest when it comes to measuring “success.” There is no consistent scale that determines when you are “successful.” The term “mom guilt” is a very real phenomenon (and much more broadly applicable). There are also very limited “goals” you can set—“be a good social worker”—but what does this even mean?! You can pour your blood, sweat, and tears into any of these roles, and you might always wonder if it was enough. Running has brought me all of these things—blood, sweat and tears—but at the end of it, I know my outcome; I have actual metrics to correlate with the level of effort and hard work. Parenting is inherently rewarding—but smashing a pace goal gives you an undeniable feeling of accomplishment.
I always knew I was going to be a mother. I assumed I would become a wife. I was destined to become a social worker. I never imagined I would become a weekend warrior who enjoyed running. Running provides me the opportunity to push through limitations, to facilitate an immediate reward that is enough to produce that “runner’s high” that makes you want to chase it again tomorrow—and to build the confidence that says YOU CAN.
Running is my personal self-care; I can use it to manipulate my mood, and I can rely on it to keep me healthy. I feel like running is this secret weapon that I have learned to tap into and I feel fortunate that I get to take advantage. Although “runner” is probably an appropriate title after all, I like to consider myself a “woman who runs.”
Click here to learn more and register for Share Your Strides, a virtual stride-a-thon event to benefit the CCAHT.