On 26th of April 2010, I became a runner.
I had tried running several times before, since the age of 19, but I was never a runner. I never had the mindset of a runner, I never enjoyed running, I never stuck with running.
So what finally made the difference in April 2010?
Let’s start from the beginning…
The first time I voluntarily ran (i.e. wasn’t told to run by a PE teacher at school) was during the summer after my first year in college (=university. Remember I went to uni in the States ;). I had gained 10kg during that year and once I was back at home for the summer, I ran for 30 minutes every day. I ran in the woods so no one would see me. I ran exactly 30 minutes. I ran back and forth on a gravel path until my time was up. I ate less than I did in the States and lost some of the extra weight. And didn’t run again once school started.
The second time I ran was during the spring of my third year in college. I had gained back the weight and then some, and went for a few runs in the olympic park in Munich were I was studying tor the year. I had terrible shoes and the constant blisters and chafing inner thighs made me quit running after a few weeks.
The third time I ran was during my last year of college, back in Missouri. I went to the gym 3 times a week and ran on the treadmill for 30 min at a time. Never more or less. I tried not to eat a lot of junk, although I was still addicted to Diet Coke, animal crackers, Taco Bell & Dairy Queen. I lost quite a bit of extra weight and I actually really enjoyed running on the treadmill every other day. A few times I ran outside too and I remember that once after running for 30 minutes I was really warmed up and loving it and felt like I could go on forever. But I stopped myself because 30 min at a time was all that was needed for loosing weight. At least that was the message I’d gotten from somewhere and I believed that running more than that would be bad for your knees and that I just needed that 30 minutes to lose some chub. I had started to get glimpses of the enjoyment of running but my focus was still a 100% on weight loss and I stubbed out the fun of running.
After graduating I moved to Washington DC, didn’t have a free gym to go to anymore, stopped running & I gained back the weight.
Two years passed, I did some Tae Bo, which I loved and then I moved to Australia & started to cycle to work. All my extra weight came off within a year and stayed off from then on. I was 25.
The next time I ran I was 34. It was April 26th, 2010. I wasn’t overweight anymore as I was walking a lot and had 2 little kids. My husband signed us both up for a half marathon so I started to run again.
For that first run we ran home from church, I remember it well. I had to stop and walk for a bit at the start as my blood sugar levels plummeted & I got hit by a little hypoglycemic episode (it took me another couple of years to figure out that not eating sugar is the cure). We ran next to a bus route just in case so we could take the bus home if I couldn’t run the whole way. But I did. I ran the 7km home and for the next 5 months ran 2-3 times a week and completed my first half marathon that September in 1:53.
From that first 7km run onwards, I felt like a runner, I thought about myself as a runner, I had become a runner.
The reason why I didn’t stick to running all the times I ran before is because my only goal had been weight loss. Running was a negative thing, it was something uncomfortable that had to get done just because I loved cookies too much.
Once I had a different goal, a different mindset – that of training for a race, I immediately loved running. I only ran 2-3 times a week, running wasn’t a daily chore of 30-minutes in order not to be/get fat. I was “in training” and that change in my mindset made all the difference.
I have always run by feel. Never every single day. As much as I love to run, running every day kills the joy of running.
I know that a lot of runners never do any races, they just love to run. I personally like to race and I have done a lot of races since that first half marathon in 2010. I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager so it’s very important to me to never associate running with weight-loss again. I haven’t, in fact, lost any weight since I started running. I don’t need to and that is good for me. I know as soon as I’d start viewing running as ‘I HAVE to run because otherwise I’d gain weight’, all the joy of running would get sucked out of my brain.
And that is the reason I’ve been a runner for the past 6 years.
All it took was a change in my mindset. All it took was a race a signed up for.
All it took was a goal that was athletic and not aesthetic.