Wednesday, May 13

how i became a runner


It's been almost two years since I embarked on my weight loss journey to a healthier me, what I dubbed #operationnomorefattyboop. You can read what motivated me here and read through my progress here. But what I'm sharing with you today is not about the thirty pounds I lost or the ten that I've gained back since, it's about how I became a runner as a result of this endeavor.

First, let's cover a little background.

I was an athlete all throughout high school. I played volleyball, basketball, and even ran track. I could sprint with the best of them, but I was NOT a runner. I vividly recall the one time I had to run the mile at a track meet due to an absent teammate - I was certain I would die before finishing. I continued to be active through college, playing volleyball and intramural basketball. Then, I graduated and entered the workforce.

I'm an accountant by trade, and as such, my main exercise at work is gleaned from trips to the bathroom, the kitchen and the copier. Several years of employment and three babies later, I made a choice to not only eat healthier in order to lose weight but to develop an active lifestyle. I had learned through all my previously failed attempts at casting off the weight that I wouldn't persevere unless I was exercising. Plus, my family heart history isn't the prettiest and I wasn't getting any younger. A sedentary lifestyle was no longer an option.

As a farmer's wife, mother of three, and full time employee, I knew that I needed to choose something that would fit with my schedule. As I considered my options, running seemed the most plausible - it can be done anywhere and at any time, no accessories or commute needed. Running a 5k someday had also been a dream of mine. So, the choice of activity for me was fairly simple.

Now, let's talk about how I made it happen.

I started with a Couch to 5k app. The program is three days a week and is eight weeks long. You start with alternating walk/run intervals. I remember thinking I would keel over when it increased to two minute runs. I liked that it focused on time and not distance, because I am slow as molasses. There were some days I didn't struggle, but there were a lot of others when I couldn't run the entire time it expected. On those days, I repeated them until I could complete them before moving on to the next.

It took me about ten weeks to finish the program. At that point, I could run the entire time (35 minutes), but I knew I wasn't covering enough distance to finish a 5k. Nevertheless, I decided it was now or never and paid my registration fee. I completed my first 5k race in October of 2018. It took me 48 minutes and my family thought they'd lost me, but I finished!!


Then... I ran another. And another. And another. Each race, I shaved off a little bit more time. I just kept running. I aimed for about 3-4 times per week and strove for three miles each time. In March of 2019, I finished a 5k race in a little over 35 minutes and won 1st place in my age division. I was beyond proud. I had not only ran one 5k, but I had ran a handful and managed to shave off 13 minutes since my first 5k attempt five months prior to that.

I want to interject here and confess that some weeks were hard. There were weeks when I didn't get in as many runs that I wanted or days when I started to run and couldn't make it a quarter of a mile. Sometimes the roadblocks were physical and other times they were mental. However, I kept going back. I kept pushing. I refused to give up when I had come so far. I learned to not let one missed run keep me from another missed run. And if a whole week went by without a single run, that didn't mean I was done running. Life happens and I learned to adjust and not throw in the towel when it threw me a curve ball.

One day, I had begun to notice that I didn't feel like dying at the end of my runs. I also knew that I didn't really have any interest in going faster. That left the only other option to go farther in order to keep pushing myself. So, on one of my next runs, I didn't stop when my watch alerted me that I had completed three miles. Instead, I kept going and added half a mile that day. After that, I continued to add on a little each week.

At the end of June, I ran my first 10k. It felt like 90 degrees and the humidity was sky high. I remember I was about half way through and tempted to quit when a lady running fairly close to me had a runner with her who was coaching and encouraging her the whole way. Their words of encouragement and enthusiasm kept me going. I had to walk more of the race than I would have liked, but I finished. And I learned that I am not a summer runner!


It wasn't long after I completed the 10k, that some friends of mine encouraged me to register and train for a half marathon they would be running in November. I immediately said no way. I mean, a half marathon is 13.1 miles!! I ran 6.2 and barely survived. Nevertheless, my interest was peaked. I started researching training plans and realized I could do this. I chose a training plan that fit my schedule as to the number of times a week I could run with the long runs on the weekend and went to work. I am thankful for the family in my life who supported me and encouraged me along the way. Long runs take time as does running multiple times per week. There were weeks when I had to rest and couldn't run at all. There were times when life happened and either I was sick or the kids were and running didn't happen. But I didn't quit. I just picked up where I left off and got back at it the next week. For this reason, I think it's vital to build in contingency weeks. If your training plan is sixteen weeks, kick off training eighteen to twenty weeks prior to the run. Life happens and this helped keep me from getting discouraged when it did.

I adhered to my training plan for the most part and kept adding miles. In October, a friend of mine and I decided to participate in an eight mile trail run to help prepare for the half. I had never ran a trail run before, but thought it wouldn't be a big deal since I had been running around 6-7 miles already. Well, I was wrong - it almost killed me. Trail running is a lot of fun but it is so much more difficult. I was almost last, but I finished. I remember hobbling to my car and only getting a little ways down the road before stopping to throw up. Now, that was a workout. It took me a few days to recover, but on my next regular run, adding a mile seemed like a piece of cake. The trail run was worth it.


A couple of weeks prior to the race, I ran my first TEN miles. I was content then - race or no race. In a little over a year, I had gone from not being able to run for two minutes straight to being able to run for a little over 2 hours without stopping. I had become a runner. Now, I had become a runner long before that, but it was at that moment that I realized all that I had accomplished. God is so good.


On a cold November day, I completed my first half marathon. I would love to say I ran the entire race, but I had to walk for a bit around the 11 mile mark. Everything was hurting. I took a small walk and then kept going. I finished in under three hours, which was my goal. I did it!!


Today, I continue to run. I aim for 10-15 miles per week. The number of runs I get in during the week depends on life and the amount of miles I run each time depends on how motivated I am. I usually run at least three and will sometimes do seven. I had hoped to train and run for another half this month, but the Corona happened. So, now I'm shooting for a half in the Fall. My goal is to run the entire race and finish it faster than the one before.


I never dreamed I could run a 5k, much less a half marathon, but I did. And believe me, if I can do it, you can too.With God, all things are possible.

~Trista~

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5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is an amazing post! I LOVE stories that show us pushing through the hard!

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  3. Congratulations!!! My daughter just ran her first half a few weeks ago. She and my DIL had been training for one that was of course cancelled with this whole COVID thing, so she ran it on her own. I started running a little last year, and stopped because of my knees. What a feeling of accomplishment for you! XO

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  4. Wow, that's amazing! It's awesome when we find a way to workout that motivates us to do better each time and pushes us forward to accomplish new goals. Good for you!

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  5. You are amazing!!! I wish I could be a runner. I always say there is no high like that after a good run!

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