Health and fitness never came naturally to me. In elementary school I routinely got out of running in gym class because of my childhood asthma. My high school offered Physical Education online and my mom signed off on exercise I never did. When I packed my lunches for school they consisted mostly of Little Debbie snack cakes, Hi-C and the occasional bag of Doritos. Lucky for me the combination of pre-teen metabolism and hours spent perfecting my tree fort prevented me from ever becoming noticeably overweight. Fast forward to age nineteen, I’m in college and working full time hours. Stress eating, Taco Bell drive-thru for lunch and McDonalds for dinner. It didn’t take long for my body to start feeling (and showing) these unhealthy habits, but I didn’t know how to change them.
Somewhere inside me was a need for change, and this need for change meant I was open to any and all suggestions. My friend Laura invited me to run with her. I immediately took off sprinting, ran ten miles and felt more alive than ever.
Like I said, fitness never came naturally to me. My first year of running consisted mainly of walking up a hill and then running downhill for maybe a quarter mile. The first time I ran three miles I had a panic attack and had to sit down on the side of the road, unsure if I was going to puke, pass out, or cry. I got shin splints, blood blisters, a sprained ankle, sunburns, dehydration headaches and woke up sore in places I didn’t know existed. But guess what? I kept going. Day after day I proved to myself that I was capable and IT. FELT. AMAZING. I was in love with the way this lifestyle made me feel. I signed up for a half marathon (with more than a little push from my bestie) and trained five days a week. I learned how to listen to my body and appreciate everything it can do, which is basically anything I put my mind to.
I built a solid foundation for myself through running and it will always hold a special place in my heart. When I feel myself veering off course, back into my old habits, I usually sign up for a race to get myself back on track. But honestly, as long as I’m doing SOMETHING with my body, it keeps me sane. Triathlon, barre, kickboxing, crossfit...whatever gets your heart pumping and clears your mind. I believe you should constantly push yourself and your limits. You get one body and one life, what a shame it would be to waste it.
Its been about five years since my journey began and now every morning I wake up at 5am, drink a green smoothie and run five miles. Just kidding. Sometimes, yes. But sometimes I sleep in and eat pancakes.
Written by: Ashley Pettigrew
Follow Ashley's journey on instagram! @ashley.trisirena