-Written by Sara Fanous (awesome runner and close friend)
I wear a lot of titles with pride: Mommy, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Coworker, etc….but there is one title I have shied away from…Runner. I average about 25 miles a week, so you would think it is a slam dunk to consider myself a runner. Why then do I struggle with this?
I read running magazines, blogs (obviously) and chit-chat with other runners. I hear talk of training programs, diets to “fuel your body,” strategies to “attack your next workout” and the importance of listening to your own body…..Let me be clear – I do NONE of this. That’s right – not any of it. The only diet strategy I know is “try not to eat so much chocolate you make yourself sick.” In all seriousness, I try to eat healthy, but I suffer from a serious sweet tooth. My training program is simple…I go out and run. I set silly goals for myself when I am doing it. For instance, as I approach a race, I may not let any run be shorter than 4 miles. (I know, I am setting the bar really high with that one! Hahahaha!) I try to get in one long run a week…And that’s it – that is the sum total of my training plan! Oh wait! One more thing…there is a girl who works in my office building who also runs at lunch. About once a week I “treadmill race” her….she doesn’t know that we are racing, but I do…sadly, she always wins. hahaha! I don’t mind because it still pushes me to try to catch her next time.
I most certainly do not try to “listen to my body” while running. In fact, I actively try to NOT listen to anything other than my music blaring into my ears. I use the music to block any thoughts from work or the rest of my life that might try to creep into my brain. The music blocks out the sound of my breathing, the sound of my feet hitting the ground and the sound of the little voice in my head telling me about whatever body part is aching at the moment. I do my best to disconnect my brain from EVERYTHING and power off all-things-Sara…I try to let my legs and lungs just function independent of my brain and I just keep going. (Random side question – Have you ever gotten to that point on a run where it is like you feel your brain disconnect from your body and it is like you can go on running forever? I live for that feeling!)
Are you on Facebook? (I guess that is like asking if you have a pulse these days…) Have you “liked” any of these motivational running pages? You know, the kind that pops a new picture into your news feed every day with a cool little running slogan? The saying generally equates running to some life-changing state-of-mind…some US Postal Service type of commitment – willing to take on any challenge and brave all types of weather. I enjoy reading them, and secretly wish the sentiment they reflect is really how I feel about running….but the thing is….they really aren’t me! I never made a conscious decision that said, “Yes, I am now a runner for life. I love this and I will never go back and be a non-runner. I am committed to this craziness forever.” I am also definitely not one of those people who love running in sub-30 degree temps, with rain/snow and biting winds. (No Postal Service commitment from this girl!)
So here is what I do know about me…I ran today because I knew it would calm me down. In fact, that is why I run most days. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a long run. I think it is cool when I realize I have gotten faster or my endurance has improved. I work fulltime, I am a mom of two little kids and 2 dogs, I am a wife and I can get over-whelmed by life sometimes. Running keeps me balanced and it gives me that much-needed time to shut everything off and just exhaust my body and let my mind rest. Last weekend I ran 10 miles in 1:25. That is faster than I thought I could ever run 10 miles in my life. (Who knows, maybe next year I will be even faster!?) I will probably never qualify for the Boston Marathon. Heck, I may never even run a marathon at all. I may not take training seriously. I may not be a runner for life. I may hate running on a freezing cold and windy day. I may not be a runner like you, or you, or you. I know all these things. Oh, and I know one more. Today, I went for a run and after I was done I felt better about myself and the world than I did when I started out….and for that reason alone, I will probably try to run again tomorrow. Am I a runner? I don’t know, but whatever I am, I am ok with it.
Happy Running to all of you runners and non-runners alike. 🙂