Why Do I Run
This has been a question that has plagued me for the past few months. With this time of reflection and quiet I decided it would be a good time to think about it.
I have always run but nothing like I do now. My focus for the past 15 years has been teaching many group fitness classes each week which really left me with nothing in the gas tank to add running to my training. However, that all changed during the pandemic. After two weeks of feeling sorry for myself in lockdown with really no end in sight, I decided it was time to take advantage of the bike path that is literally walking distance from my house. I knew that I would be going back to the gym someday and I needed to stay in shape in order to teach my classes.
The process was slow. I started walking first and eventually started to run. One particular day I remember doing 2 miles, getting home and sitting on my stairs for about two hours because I was so exhausted - but I didn’t give up. I kept plugging, adding a little more each week. I made little things my new marker for distance… a tree, a fence. Figuring out how to motivate myself and learning all the challenges of running along the way (that no one talks about).
Eventually, I increased my running to 6 miles regularly but really couldn’t do much more than that. One spring day I bumped into a man who’s name is Pete (aka Coach) who I saw on the path frequently. He was very friendly always cheering everyone on something you don’t see in my neck of the woods. To be honest, it is hard to get folks to even say good morning these days without them giving you a dirty look. Pete and I happened to be running the same way. We ran together that day for almost 10 miles. I was so proud of myself and felt fantastic after and so happy for Pete’s company. That day changed my life. As the months went by Pete and I didn’t run very much together but I kept plugging along. Finding ways to run in the snow and ice with cleats always pushing myself to get outside regularly not matter what the weather was because outside time was my time.
What do I mean by “My Time”? My time is the time I have learned to take for myself. My regular running became a mental health tool to manage stress, solve problems, burn off some steam, and what the heck how about some great cardio fitness and weight management. I am heading into my 50s and believe me the struggle is real.
With Pete’s encouragement, I eventually ran the NB Half Marathon. He guided me along the way. Answering all my crazy questions. I met some of the best people during the training runs. I remember my second training run I’d met an old friend, Brian, on the course that day and asked him “Brian if I can run 10 miles do you think I could run the half course.” He said to me, “Do you want to run it today?” We ran 14 miles that day and I knew I was ready. Matter of fact, the folks I latched onto that day to pace me were the folks I ended up running the half with - Lara, Kate and Joe. I remember when I was so nervous and Lara graciously invited me to her studio before the race. Then invited me to run with them along the way.
I will never forget these amazing folks who encouraged and guided me. So very grateful for each of them along with Al my biggest supporter and life partner, my dear friends Christine who bought my first headlamp, Julia my biggest cheerleader who came to the Half Marathon made signs to cheer me on and my Dad who I know was so proud of me for running which made the even so much more meaningful and special.
Running is hard - Really hard! It is not for the faint of heart. My focus for the past year was to train to get a little faster. To do a little better with my time at the half marathon the following year. However, as fate would have it I had to bow out of the half because of some plaguing injuries. First, it started with the IT Band, then the knees and back. I ignored them for about 6 months until it cost me the half marathon. I wanted to give up. I was frustrated, disappointed, and really down on myself. I trained for a year for this but knew it was best to take care of my body.
As I was going through all of this, one of the things that kept coming up was “Jul why are you running? What is it that you really want to accomplish?” For many runners it is about racing, doing marathons, half marathons, and ultras. Most of those folks have been running for most of their lives. For me it is different… What I want out of running is that “My Time”. My life is crazy busy professionally and most days I am tired and run down from the day-to-day. That outside time replenishes me, fills my cup, and balances whatever daily challenges I might have at any given time. Of course, I always want to improve. Some of my best running times were last summer because Coach (Pete) told me, “If you want to run faster you need to run with faster runners”. My friends Pete (Coach), Keith, and Lynn helped me achieve that as we ran through the summer months.
Running has been a great experience for me. I have met so many encouraging people along the way. The pandemic was hard in so many ways but one of the gifts I gained during that time was a renewed motivation to enjoy the outdoors. Nature is a gift we should emerge ourselves in every day. It is very healing and restorative to the human soul. Always remember the best things in life are free. Material things will never replace experiences. Experiences are truly what are the most important in life.
By Julie Fostin, CPT, PN1