Hello, Running. Let’s be friends!

by Her Happy Balance on April 14, 2014

“I hate running, I don’t have the right body type for it, I’m short and stubby, it’s just not meant to be.” –Me.

Happily, since saying that a couple of years ago, my thoughts on running have changed. Now, there are days when I will say I love running and that it is the ultimate stress reliever. There are also days when I will begrudgingly do it because I know that even though I may not feel like it, I’ll feel better afterwards. I don’t harbor dreams of running marathons {although who wouldn’t want to run in Boston?!} but I have come to have a healthy appreciation and relationship with the sport.

running quote

I was always active in sports growing up. I played soccer, softball, took dance lessons, and had a short stint in cheerleading. In high school, I decided to say goodbye to sports and focus more on academics and music. I didn’t say hello to physical activity again until college. It just wasn’t a priority. If I thought I needed to get more physically fit then I focused more on having a healthy diet instead of working out.

My first attempt at running was with my best friend during our sophomore year of college. She and I had recently started to become really good friends and we had to do a school project together. The project required us to shoot a short video at a local state park. We decided that if we were going to have to go to the park for a school project, we might as well enjoy some time there afterwards exercising together. We had both been going to the gym together for a couple months now and we figured playing around on the weight machines and gossiping at the gym had made us into fitness pros 🙂

I was wearing a ratty, old pair of cut-up sweatpants {that I thought were super cool ha!} and an oversized t-shirt with some Pumas. If I know my BFF well enough, I think she was rocking a pair of Sketchers. We were clearly running professionals. We picked the flattest area the park had to offer and started off on our run.

I’d say we lasted about 30 seconds, max We spent a good majority of the time looking at each other with faces of complete horror at how difficult this whole “running” thing was. We ended up walking most of the time. Whenever I would spot people walking towards us, I’d insist we run until we passed them. Look at us, we are so athletic, we see your walk and raise you this graceful run! Then as soon as they passed we’d stop and catch our breath. This little episode wasn’t all a wash though. For one, it made me painfully aware of how out of shape I actually was and made me want to do better. It also solidified a sisterhood between my bestie and me. We still talk about our “run” in the park and it makes me smile every time. Love you, girl.

running quote

Fast forward a couple of months and I was in the thick of college. I had an established group of friends I would hang out with on the weekends, and our weekend activity of choice usually involved alcohol. Pretty typical college kids. I was having so much fun making memories with friends, drinking disgusting fruity cocktails, and nomming on pizza rolls at 2am that I didn’t notice I was slowly putting on weight from all the empty calories. My pants were snug, my face looked chubby and I just needed a change. I don’t really know what exactly clicked for me, but I just decided I was going to become a runner. I always knew running was a great way to stay in shape and knew of friends who loved the sport. The idea that eventually running could become something fun, along with some unwanted extra weight, were my kickers to get out there and give it a real go.

Step one – I looked up the Couch to 5k running plan online. This was back during the time where the C25K phone app was like $5, and being a poor college kid, I wasn’t about to shell out any money towards health-related things. My how things have changed 😉 #luluaddict Anyway, I would bring up the free C25K webpage on my phone and hop on a treadmill and get to work. I’ve been told I have an “extremist personality” – which I kind of do – and I consistently followed the plan. Now, I didn’t follow each and every run they instructed to a tee, but I had decided I was going to run and this was an excellent guide. It wasn’t always easy. The plan requires you to devote 30 minutes, 3 days a week to a mixture of walking and running. My starting run pace was 5.2 mph, which some may consider slow, but it did NOT feel slow to me.

With each run, I started to feel more validated with myself as a person. Seriously. Doing something you think you are incapable of doing does wonders for the psyche. I completed the program and felt so proud of myself. I didn’t exactly feel ready to run a race, but I knew my body was capable of running.

running shoes

I kept up with it. I made myself run every other day on the treadmill. I invested in real running shoes. And I very gradually started increasing my pace. The feeling of accomplishment that came at the end of a run started to slowly take over. I was running on the treadmill until it would kick me off at the end of an hour. I started being that obnoxious, new-found, born-again, fitness-freak on Facebook who would post about how happy running had made them after each run. I’d post about how awesome running was, how pumped up on endorphins I was, and I’d share running quotes like it was my job. It was a fun period in my running journey. It was the total newbie happiness stage. At this point, I was still doing all of my runs on the treadmill. I liked knowing my exact pace. It was a while longer before I started running outside.

Even though I seriously started considering myself a runner back in college, it took me until I had graduated from college to get up the nerve to run a race. And even when I did run that race, I did so because a friend – shout out to Nicole! – had an extra race entry for a fun run and had offered it to me. I hate turning down opportunities and felt like I couldn’t say no, so I did it. I’m very glad I did It was an un-timed 5k color run, and it was the perfect way for me to get my feet wet with the racing scene. I tend to be kind of an anxious person, it’s the type A in me, and so I was super nervous to run a race. Getting one under my belt gave me a lot more confidence in myself. No one was staring at me while I ran, no one cared if I didn’t have perfect form, no one cared that I wasn’t the quickest, everyone was just out there having fun.

Color Me Rad 5k

I’m still not a huge fan of running races. Running is something I do for myself, for the personal joy it brings me, not for the competitive aspect. But I have since run a handful of 5k’s, both timed and un-timed, as well as a 7-mile mud and obstacle run <-- something else I never thought I would do. I’m sure I will keep doing races here and there, but I am content with running just for the health of it too. Mud run finishers

All that being said, I still have a healthy competitive spirit with myself. I’ve been working on getting faster and I’ve increased my pace significantly. I’m happy with how far I’ve come, but I will definitely continue working towards more endurance and a quicker pace. I actually enjoy running outside now, too and not solely on the treadmill. In fact, running along the ocean is one of my favorite things to do.

I still think of myself as a running noob. I’ve been consistently running for a little over 3 years now. It’s not my main form of fitness, but I usually get at least 2 runs in a week. On good weeks, 3 or 4 runs, it just depends on what my fitness goals at the time happen to be. This is only the beginning of my running story, I’m hoping for many more years of gradual progression.

One of my favorite feelings is the emptiness I feel after pushing myself through a hard run. Feeling the salt on my face from sweating profusely, getting hyped up on endorphins, really feeling a runner’s high…it’s pretty cool. Most importantly, I’ve learned that anyone, with a little determination, can become a runner.

Need to sweat

So yeah, running and I are friends now. We have our quarrels, just like all relationships, but we’re cool. We even have a secret handshake and lots of goofy inside jokes. Yeah, running and me are pals.

Tell me about your running story!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Becky @ Olives n Wine April 14, 2014 at 7:23 am

I love running stories and yours is a great one! I definitely have my ups and downs when it comes to running – I love-hate relationship if you like 😉

Caitlin April 14, 2014 at 7:38 am

I remember you posting about that mud race last year and thinking it was incredibly bad ass 😉 Still haven’t had the guts to try one of those but perhaps that will happen soon? I love reading/hearing other people’s running stories…Joe is the reason I started running and now he regrets making me go with him on a regular basis 😉 Kidding but it is his fault we’re up early on weekends for races haha. Totally agree with you about loving that feeling after a run…feeling gross but happy knowing I gave it my all and succeeded in finishing it 🙂

Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures April 14, 2014 at 9:46 am

ARGH! I cannot re articulate the awesomeness that was in the first comment but I’ll try. Woo.
We started in very similar places – I was over the college weight gain almost immediately after graduating but being poor and not as smart as you, I just started running on a treadmill. In fact, I thought it was the ONLY way to get my ass in gear. I had gone through a phase in college where I ran a lot but it had been a while and I felt like I was starting at scratch again. Anyway, that’s all it takes, right? Those first few runs that totally make you feel like you’re on top of the world and that feeling like whoa – I can actually run! Anyway, I’ve been running for about 3 years also and I’m so happy to have running in my life too. We are friends almost everyday – but we do have quarrels, ha! <3 And races are just another way to spend money…. I'd rather be at Lulu too! Speaking of, I blew my life savings there yesterday. UGH Where is my self control? I'm so glad you've gotten to love running because it is obvi my fav thing and anyway we can be better twinsies, I'm down. 🙂

meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles April 14, 2014 at 10:12 am

Love this post. I remember when you did that muddy messy race! lol…You know I love to run and I agree with you – I do it for me. I don’t need a race. I do a small handful a year and even that amt may continue to dwindle even as I bump up my weekly mileage!

Stephanie @ My Freckled Life April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I love this running story! I always find it so interesting to see how people got into running (especially those are not natural runners #shortandstubbyclub). I definitely have a love-hate relationship with running too, but it seems the more I do it, the more it’s weighted on the love side!

Her Happy Balance April 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Hell yeah! #shortandstubby4lyfe haha! I completely agree with you. Sometimes it’s tough to get going, but I’ve never regretted a run 🙂

Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie April 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I loved reading your running story! Right now, running and I are on a bit of a break. But, we’re trying to start meeting up on the weekends now so I can get ready for my half in July.

Her Happy Balance April 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Running and I occasionally need our space away from each other…but I always seem to go back 😉 You’re going to rock your upcoming half!!

Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants April 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I love to hear stories about how people fell in love with exercise. Running is definitely a joy of mine, and although I often times have to force myself out the door to go, I’m always grateful and feel so empowered once I’m done! The endorphins don’t suck either 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

Her Happy Balance April 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm

The endorphins definitely do NOT suck either 😉 Thanks for reading my story!

Kristen April 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Great post! I love your running journey! I also ate a ton of pizza rolls in college 🙂 Whoever invented those things is an evil genius!

Her Happy Balance April 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Agreed. I would STILL eat them today if they weren’t absolute crap for you. Anything stuffed with cheese that can be heated in the microwave is the perfect late night boozer snack.

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