If you saw my instagram at first glance you would think I have been a runner for a while. That running comes naturally to me because I am a trainer and “fit”. But….you would absolutely be wrong. I have been running for 3 years now. Running does NOT come easy to me. I was the person that refused to run. Any mention of it and I was quickly stating “I hate running”. I went from being the girl who would “roll her ankle” during the timed mile in school just to get out of it, to willingly waking up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays to run for hours in the woods. So what changed?
Several things played a factor in my transformation to become a runner. Those things being: the type of running I chose as my hobby, the story I tell myself, and the people I surround myself with.
First things first. Not all running is created equal. There are sprinters, there are endurance athletes, there are 5k’ers, and more. When I thought of running I always thought of pounding the pavement, ya know, running mindlessly on the road. Nothing seemed more boring and miserable than that. I had no idea that this thing called trail running even existed. My husband introduced me to this beautiful, gritty, soul crushing, awesome sport. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say trail running is “harder”. Here are my reasons why: hills/climbs, constant varied movement and technical footing, snakes (or as we call them “nope ropes” and “danger noodles”). The same reasons that make it harder, are what make it better. The hills/climbs make you stronger and appreciate flat ground so much more, and yes; it is normal/acceptable to hike up them, most trail runners (unless elite) are generally hiking up the large hills. The technical footing and varied movement keeps you thinking and engaged the whole time. The fear of snakes keeps you distracted from your heavy breathing and tired legs. Another huge plus of trail running is the privilege of being in God’s masterpiece and soaking it up. We run in some of the most beautiful places that are a constant reminder of how amazing our creator is. Everytime I am out on the trail I think of Romans 1:20:
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
So I found the type of running that I didn’t absolutely despise. Perfect. Smooth sailing from here, right? Wrong. I still had so many obstacles to overcome on this journey to being a self proclaimed runner. The biggest one was between my ears. Surely you have heard many times that our mind gives up long before our body does, and I can attest to this. It has taken 3 long years of learning how to talk to myself before/during and after runs. Before a run I have to pick a “mantra”. I keep this short saying in my back pocket for when the pain kicks in and my brain starts convincing me I need to stop. Some of my favorites are “it’s supposed to be hard”, “yes it hurts, this is where the growth happens”, “just.keep.going.” Sometimes I try and feel sorry for myself. I’ll start down this road of “I’m not built to run”, “this doesn’t come naturally to me” “I am built like a corgi….why did I pick this sport as a hobby?!” Then I snap out of it. All of those things are true, and that’s what keeps me going. The fact that this sport is HARD for me, it challenges me every step of the way, I don’t have the ideal body type for it, this sport makes me so uncomfortable…but I am stronger than my excuses, therefore I continue to run.
Lastly, I would probably have given up by now if it weren’t for the people I surround myself with. The person I spend the most time with, my husband/business partner/best friend has been a huge motivator for me in my running endeavors. Constantly pushing me to do more, work harder, and get 1% better. I have also been blessed with the most amazing friends who share my crazy and wake up at the crack of dawn on the weekend. Sacrifice their body to copious amounts of chigger bites, snake sightings, and rolled ankles. Friends who encourage me and hold me accountable. They say you are a product of the 5 people you surround yourself with most…I hope I am lucky enough to be like the friends that I share the trail with every weekend.
So there you have it. My 3 steps on how to go from “I hate running” to “I live for this”. Choose the hard path (in this case, the trail), everytime. Control your mind and will yourself to do better and work harder. Surround yourself with people who are there to hold you to that story you’ve told yourself and share the adventure with you. And voila, you’ve got yourself the secret sauce that will help you accomplish even the hardest feats.