I have been running for almost two decades, with my running journey beginning in my early teens. I wish I could say it came naturally to me and I was immediately hooked, but that was not the case at all. As nonathletic, out of shape high school student, I initially used running solely as a way to burn calories in hopes to lose weight. I remember borrowing my mom's tennis shoes and my brother's Walkman and just doing my best to make it around the block (about a mile). It was by no means easy, in fact it was downright miserable for me at times, but I kept at it and eventually started to see results. Still, at the time I never felt confident in my body or my abilities as an athlete, so I did most of my running in seclusion, and the thought of going out for a team seemed absolutely terrifying.
Like all the other sports I wasn't instantly "good" at and gave up on in my youth, I got away from running for a few years while in college. During this time, my weight piled on, I was struggling in school, I suffered an injury to my hip from an accident, and then worst at of all, my father lost his battle to pancreatic cancer. Not only was I incredibly out of shape, but I had found myself rather depressed and lost. I turned to running this time not just for exercise but also for therapy. It was exactly what I needed for many reasons. Running was there for me during one of the darkest times of my life and I truly believe it saved me. It was during those runs where I felt most alive, where I felt like I could actually breath and think clearly. It gave me purpose, goals and a sense of accomplishment and even pride. Most importantly, running finally gave me something I had been struggling with for most of my life...confidence. And from that, I was able to find my identity.
My junior year in college I finally got my act together and decided to declare a major. Realizing I had a passion for fitness and wanted to help others, I had hoped to graduate with an exercise science degree. There was just one problem, though I was so still so out of shape from the previous years that I couldn't pass one part of the physical fitness test required to declare my major! Guess what that part was...run a mile under 10 minutes (and I couldn't do it)! Taking that as a huge wake up call, I got serious about my health. Still not where I wanted to be by the time the test rolled around again, I ran my little heart out and passed with maybe two seconds to spare! By the time I graduated, I had lost almost 70lbs and was running and working out on a consistent basis (and running sub 10 minute miles consistently too).
Fast forward a few years and running had become more than just a hobby, it was now a part of my livelihood. I was working full time as a fitness manager and was fortunate enough to be surrounded by like minded individuals who also had a huge passion for running. With their experience and knowledge, they inspired and encouraged me to take my running to the next level. So I threw caution to the wind, trained for and ran my first marathon after only running 5k's before that! (I wouldn't necessarily recommend that progression, or lack thereof, but I survived!) It was hands down one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I had done to date, but it forever changed me. I was now a freaking marathoner and that gave me a whole new lease on life!
Now in my thirties, running is a staple in my every day life. It has and will always be there for me, it is who I am and has made me better in all facets of my life. To date, I have ran 100+ races, including everything from 5k's to full marathons and even some triathlons. I am very active in the local running community as a part of several running groups, an official race pacer and a running blogger and coach. Running has has given me so much pride as well as humility, and of course has brought so many wonderful people into my life.
From the girl who couldn't run a single mile under 10 minutes to the one who finds herself on the podium after many a race, I am eternally grateful to have found such a passion and calling and am able to share that with others! Running has taught me to dream big, work hard and enjoy life to the fullest. And now that I am a mom to two precious baby boys, my hope is that my running will inspire them to one day have a passion of their own, something that lights a fire with them and gives them the desire to always strive for more!
Owner and Coach at http://www.cwscperformance.com