Since the Princess Half Marathon, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I got started with running, I usually tell them I started with Couch to 5K and just went from there, but there’s more to it than that. Running is something I’ve always wanted to enjoy, but until recently it was always something I felt like I had to do, not something I wanted to do. You may want to get comfy, I can be a bit long-winded!
Way back in high school, I cheered and took tumbling classes. As part of our conditioning, we had to run. On days when our coach was feeling particularly cranky we had to run stadiums (running up and down the concrete stadium bleachers a few times and then around the track counted as one stadium). I hated every second of it. One of the gym teachers, who was also the girls track coach, tried to convince me to join the track team. I’m pretty sure I laughed – the idea of running further than I absolutely had to just didn’t appeal to me.
I’m on the right. And go Blue Devils! 😉
In college, I no longer had anyone telling me I had to run, but I still didn’t enjoy it. I went through a few phases where I’d run pretty consistently for 2-3 weeks, then I’d quit. The times I picked up running usually coincided with the times my college boyfriend and I were fighting. It was a great way to blow off steam when he ticked me off. (Side Note: It’s still a great attitude-adjuster for me. My husband can tell when I’ve missed a run, I get a serious case of cranky pants.)
After I graduated from college and met Adam, my running shoes didn’t see the light of day for a while.. a long while. We moved in together, adopted a puppy, bought a house, got engaged and married, adopted another dog.. at the time I thought I was too busy to fit working out into my schedule. Ha! I sometimes wonder what exactly I thought “busy” felt like back then!
After being married for two years, we welcomed our perfect baby boy into our family. I was busier than ever and struggling with the demands of being a wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, employee.. I felt like I was constantly being pulled in 10 different directions. I wanted to be one of those moms I saw running with a jogging stroller, I wanted to be fit and healthy. I didn’t want it bad enough though, because I had a million excuses. I was too tired, too stressed, too busy. In hindsight, I was nuts. I know now how much happier I would have been if I’d laced up my shoes back then and carved out just 20 minutes a day for myself. Funny how that works, huh?
Shortly before Braden’s 2nd birthday, we decided we were ready to start trying to get pregnant again. With Braden, we expected that it would take a while. My doctor told me to expect it to take six months. Imagine our surprise when I was holding a positive pregnancy test after our first month trying. With Mackenzie, it wasn’t so easy. It took some time and I was really frustrated with my body. I hated that things were out of my control. I wanted so badly to be pregnant again and my body would not cooperate. Three months into trying, I had a meltdown. I needed to have control over something. I needed somewhere to focus my energy, because I was obsessing and it wasn’t healthy. I needed to feel like I was in charge of my body again, so I started Couch to 5k and for the first time in my life, I loved running. Just a few months later, I found myself standing in the bathroom holding another positive pregnancy test and I was beyond excited. After trying for what felt like so long (in hindsight, it was well within the “normal” range) to get pregnant, I was terrified that something would go wrong and I’d miscarry, so I hung up my running shoes again.
40-weeks with Mackenzie
I had a wonderful pregnancy and in July 2011 we welcomed our sweet baby girl. My plan was to start running again once she was here, but the baby weight was gone fairly quickly (thank you breastfeeding!) and I wasn’t sleeping much, so it didn’t happen. Mackenzie was a nursing champ and I was starving most of the time, so I ate. And ate. And ate. Fast forward a year, and I was 30 pounds heavier and terribly sleep deprived, thanks to a beautiful baby girl who thought she was supposed to nurse around the clock. After seeing pictures from Mackenzie’s first birthday party, I told Adam something had to give. I needed to start taking care of myself so that I could continue to take care of my family.
Mackenzie’s 1st Birthday
I started Couch to 5K in August and quickly fell in love with running. Instead of being something that I had to do, running was something that I did for me. I feel strong, healthy, empowered. It’s the one thing in my life that is just for me. I control how far and how fast I go. I decide where to run and what to listen to. It’s the one part of my day where I’m just Kristin and I don’t have to worry about what anyone else needs or wants. Maybe that sounds selfish, but it’s hard to keep an optimistic outlook on life when you’re spending all of your time and energy doing things for other people.
That’s not to say that I just bail on my family when I decide I want to run. That’s hardly the case! My husband is also a runner and we’re both on training schedules right now, so it’s a very delicate balancing act making sure we both get our runs in while keeping our babies happy and healthy, keeping the house from falling apart, working full time, and trying to have a social life. I’ve just changed the way I look at working out — instead of it being something that I have to find time for in my day, now it is just part of my day. I don’t make excuses, I plan out my day with my workouts included. Just like we need to eat to keep our bodies healthy, I run to keep my body and mind healthy. I found that when I changed the way I thought about running, it became much easier.
In October 2011, I finished the Couch to 5K program and I decided that I wanted to shoot for longer distances. I know myself, I need a goal to keep myself motivated, so I signed up for the Princess Half Marathon. I built myself up to where I could comfortably run four miles, then in November I started a slightly modified version of Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Half Marathon training plan.
Looking at the miles increase every weekend on the training plan was definitely intimidating, but I figured Hal knew a heck of a lot more about running than I did, so I decided to trust the plan and go with it. I was surprised as the weeks went by how easily I was able to complete the longer runs. My last long run before the Princess Half was an 11-miler. I had Adam drive me 11 miles away from the house and drop me off so that I had no excuses – the only way for me to get home was using my own two feet.
It worked! I stepped up to the starting line of my first big race confident that I could do it. I knew that I’d prepared myself and I was excited to see where this new adventure was going to take me. It seems like I’ve been running for a long time now, but that was just under two months ago. Since then I’ve finished my 2nd half and signed up for a marathon.
Finish Line at the Princess Half
If you told me last summer that I’d be here today, I would have never believed you. If you’re thinking about starting to run, I urge you to do it. Give it a shot, what do you have to lose? Running is one of the best things that I’ve done for myself and for my family. For those of you who are just starting out – I was right there with you just a few short months ago. I know, it can be so hard to motivate yourself to get out the door some days. I’ve run on sore legs, an injured ankle, in the rain.. I struggled with comparing my pace to others, wondering how it was possible for them to run so fast, when I was trying so hard and barely breaking a 12-minute mile. The best advice I have for you is to remember why you’re running. It’s not to beat your friend, it is for you. It will get easier over time, but I can’t tell you that it ever becomes easy. It’s not supposed to, is it? Part of what makes running so great for me is the constant challenge. That’s why it feels so good when I cross a finish line – I worked hard, challenged myself, and succeeded.