Running shoes can represent so many things: strength, determination, commitment, mommy’s time to regroup, living a healthy life, being a role model for your kids. Every mommy has to put on her “running shoes” to get through the day. And no matter what they represent, they are always beaconing you to put them on, lace them up and run.
I have always been an active person through dance class from age 2-18 and workout routines in the gym since high school. My dad is an avid runner, and I always wanted to follow in his footsteps but never thought I had the endurance to run an entire mile without stopping. I started to run on the track in college, but then dealt with a back injury (unrelated to the running). I was told I had two options – stop running to reduce the impact on my spine or have back surgery. I was only 18 years old, and as stubborn as I was, spinal surgery wasn’t really something I wanted to deal with. I continued going to the gym and doing cardio on the bike or elliptical machine (which I hate). Fast-forward a few years to October 2012 when a friend decided to jump off a cliff…and I followed her. Neither of us had run more than a mile without stopping, but we decided to sign up for the New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon in February 2013 (only half crazy, right?).
I started training, seeking advice from my dad and meeting new runner friends along the way. It started with lots of 2 or 3 mile runs. in December 2012, I ran my first race ever – a 5K that I finished in 28 minutes. My next race was the half marathon.
Going into the RNR half, I had three giant blisters on my feet, fluid on my knee and bronchitis; but I was determined to run. I will certainly admit that adrenaline got the best of me and I started out too fast. By mile five my quads were so worn I couldn’t stand it and I had to do a lot of run/walk intervals. To top it off, I paused my app when I stopped at the porta-potty and forgot to turn it back on. It was hard to see the mile markers among the crowd, so I wasn’t ever certain what mile I was on until I reached 12. I thought it would never end! I finally crossed the finish line at 2:28:44. Not an ideal time, but considering my ailments going into the race and the fact that it was only my second race ever, I didn’t hate it. It helped that the number 28 is somewhat my family’s lucky number. Silly, I know, but sometimes it’s the little things.
It took me a while to recover from that race. I was sore for more than a week. I took several days off from running to give my body a break. When I started up again, my runs felt awful. I remember feeling like I could barely run a 5K. It took some time, but I finally got back into the swing of things. In late spring and early summer, I started to get in a rut and wasn’t very motivated on my runs. Then came the 100 Miles in July Challenge (same friend, different cliff). I was a running maniac doing two-a-days and logging miles like crazy. I finished the month at 135 miles. It felt great to kill the challenge, but I think I became too focused on the QUANTITY of miles and lost focus of the QUALITY of my runs.
I started setting mileage goals for myself, and when I felt weak, injured or sore, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me or why I wasn’t performing like the maniac I was in July. I had beat myself up physically and mentally. But now I know I need to focus on my technique and my endurance. I know that good runners don’t just get up and go, running aimlessly until they are great. There is a formula that has to be applied.
There are races ahead.Things to be accomplished. But it isn’t about RUNNING. Whatever it is that makes you roll out of your bed in the morning, exhausted as you may be, and calls to you to spend some time alone, embrace it, and be you…those are your running shoes. So put them on, and RUN!