For years I have worked out. Sporadically. Regularly. Not much. A lot. A little. Anywhere in between. I just feel better when I do. I need it.
Pregnancy and post-pregnancy made it a lot more difficult, though. I had issues. A lot of issues. I had pain. I suffered from post-partum depression. I had a baby with reflux and colic, and I (we) didn't sleep. Regardless, though, I still found a way to do "something". For a long time I "just" participated in "Stroller Strides", a mommy and baby exercise class. It was great physically, socially, mentally...you name it. But, eventually it stopped being "enough". Eventually I felt I was pushing more than the instructors. I was looking for "more".
Now, in all the years that I have been active and an athlete, I have never been a "runner". I have run up to a mile or so, but it was just a part of my workout...not THE workout. I have always had reasons for not embracing running: I don't have a runner's body; I have had too many injuries and surgeries; I just don't enjoy it; I am in pain. And, I guess by reasons I really mean "excuses". The truth is, running is hard. Really hard, especially in the beginning.
But, at some points in life some of us have an awakening of sorts. I know that recently I experienced just that. My best friend and I were chatting on the phone a few months ago, and we both had the same complaints....we wanted to more for ourselves from an active lifestyle / cardiovascular exercise standpoint. So, we made a pact. We would be each other's long distance motivators. We would post our activity weekly and give each other updates. We would force ourselves to be ACCOUNTABLE! And, it worked.
I started with a mile at a time. A very slow mile. A long hard-fought mile. Which lead to 2 miles. Which lead to 3. Which lead to 4. Then 5. And 6. I began by running (huffing and puffing and blowing houses down) about 2 to 3 times a week, pushing a toddler in a stroller as I went along. As I got "better", I realized that I REALLY liked running alone, with my iPod barking me on in my ears, early in the morning before most people are out and about. So, sometimes I take time out to do just that. Other times I still push that stroller companion during a mid-morning jaunt. I am able to do it, even with all of my aches and pains...a bad foot, a bad shoulder. I have run farther than I ever thought I could. I run flat stretches, and I run hills. I CHOOSE to run hills. I run almost every other day, with a few 2 day breaks in between. I run outside. I run on a track. I run in the park. I run at the gym on a treadmill.
I used to tell everyone, even recently, that I am NOT a runner. I would tell them that I am not fast, and I am not very good at it. Then something happened. I realized after logging over 100 miles in my first 2 months that I AM a runner. It doesn't matter that I am not super-fast (although I HAVE gotten faster). It doesn't matter that I don't have a "typical" runner's body or legs. It doesn't matter that I am not running marathons. All that matters is THAT I RUN. AND, YOU KNOW WHAT??? I DO!
I feel good. I look better. I feel proud. I feel STRONG! Just yesterday I ran 6 miles in 63 minutes and 19 seconds. I ran my last 1.25 miles at clips between 6.0 and 7.5 mph. A little over a week ago I ran a 5K mud run...all off-road running with military style obstacles, hills, mud pits, and you name it. And, I finished. And, I never walked a second of it. Not one. Not even the brutal hills.
That's because I am a runner, you see. I run, therefore, I AM A RUNNER!