One of the best things about running is the ripple effect it has on others and your life. ~ Me
I can still vividly remember the day I told my family I was going to start training to run a marathon…December 31, 2010. I had just finished my first round of working out 300 of out 365 days, and I needed a new goal. Running a marathon had always been a bucket list item of mine, so in my mind that was the next logical goal (nevermind the fact that I couldn’t even run around the block)! I have no idea why I wanted to run a marathon…I didn’t know a single runner, didn’t know anyone who had run a marathon, and had never watched a marathon. When I told my family they kind of chuckled, especially my brothers. It might have been a legit response considering I was overweight, out of shape, and one of the laziest people around. What they didn’t realize was that I was serious. What I didn’t realize was how naive I was in thinking I was going to up and run a marathon. Running proved to be a little more challenging than just finding a marathon training plan, and sticking with it. I have yet to run a marathon, but I have run two 5k’s, a 5 mile race (which was supposed to be a half-marathon), a 10 mile race, and two half-marathons. If all goes well I am hoping to run my first marathon next fall.
I have been pretty fortunate that most things I have attempted in my life have come pretty easy, except running! Some people are just natural born runners, and I am not one of them. I can tell you that some part of nearly every single run has been a struggle. I can’t count the number of times I have said that I am never running again. Note: this is most often muttered while I am out running. Occasionally the thought is still with me when I get home, but more often than not there is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
Not to sound selfish, but when I started it was all about me. I think part of the goal of running a marathon was to prove to myself that I could do something that seemed insurmountable. Right now a marathon does seem insurmountable, but I know it’s not. I am still in awe that I have finished two half-marathons. I wasn’t fast, but I finished. I think many of the training runs were harder than the actual race. My training runs were by myself, and I had so many moments when I just wanted to quit early and go home. Nobody would know…there wasn’t a medal or anyone waiting for me at the finish. This is where the ripple effect comes in.
Running was something that I never thought I could do, yet it has proved to me that I can do so much more than I ever thought. It has proven to me that I can do anything that I set my mind to, and am willing to work hard to achieve.
Like I said earlier when I first started running it was about me, but I did start my blog for two reasons: 1) to chronicle my journey for own purposes; and 2) in the hopes that maybe I could motivate somebody else. I didn’t have anyone particular in mind, but I knew that sometimes it just takes hearing someone else’s story. I am a pretty open person, so I didn’t have any problems putting it all out there. Again the ripple effect came into play. A couple months after I started my journey, a friend of mine said I motivated him to get back out running. He is now more fit than ever, and accomplishing amazing things in his life. He has also finished, among many other races, two full marathons. He has now become my inspiration. My 55 year old mom has started running, she is faster than me and has more endurance than I do. My sister started running, and she is way faster than me as well! I ran into a friend at Target the other day who I haven’t seen in years, but we are Facebook friends. She gave me an unexpected hug and told me she was motivated/inspired by me. That totally made my day! The great thing about this ripple effect is it will now occur in the circles of each of these individuals, and it will just continue to trickle down. Even if you think nobody notices, people are watching and you are motivating others with your actions.
I am sure somebody reading this is thinking they could never run. I promise you that if I can, you can. You are never too old, too slow, too overweight, or too busy to start running. It’s all about baby steps. Just like a baby crawls before they walk, you may have to walk before you can run. There is nothing wrong with that. I have been struggling this last month with running. I had decided that I was going to take a month off, and luckily I had some wise friends convince me otherwise. So I decided to go back to a very minimal run/walk program just so I wouldn’t have to completely start over a month from now. It’s taken me a long time, but I think I am finally realizing that there is no shame in taking walk breaks if it is what is going to keep me running. Running is also a very private, but public thing. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a treadmill at home, you will be in the public eye whether it is at the gym or in your neighborhood. Do not let this deter from starting. When I first started seriously working out 4.5 years ago, I was afraid to walk on the treadmill without holding on. I thought everyone would be staring at me, but they weren’t. Most people at the gym are focused on their own workout, they don’t care what you are doing. I felt the same thing when I first ran outside…I didn’t want my neighbors to see me. Now I go out there proud and with pride. Unlike most people I am out there doing something for me, and I am becoming a better person. I actually like running where there is a lot of people because I hope they see me and think if she can do it, I can do it. When I myself am out driving and see people out running/walking I am always impressed…it doesn’t matter how big or small, slow or fast they are. What impresses and motivates me is that they are out making a difference in their own life, when it would have been just as easy, if not more easy, to just sit at home on the couch. Never underestimate the power of the ripple effect.