Life is a roller coaster full of ups, downs and all-arounds. Once upon a time I thought life was linear as I attempted to check the “to-do’s” off the list on the way to happiness and success. Because that’s how it works, right? I could see my goals out there in the distance and if I just moved forward I could reach them. Yet over the past year life has flipped me upside down and backwards. I can still see my goals out there in the distance, but it’s as if there is an ocean between us with raging waters pushing me left and right. I struggle to move forward. I push onwards. I stretch my arms out as far as I can possibly stretch to reach happiness and yet the waves keep pulling me in different directions. I’ll get there- I know I will. But I’m learning that life isn’t linear. Reaching our goals in running and life as a whole are NOT about check marks on a list. Rather strength is developed and character is built through our ability as runners, mothers or fathers, employees and human beings in our ability to adapt to change, move with the ocean waves and embrace the ebb and flow.
Nearly a year ago I received an email from a reader who was passionate about running. As she was nursing an injury we regularly emailed back and forth about many, many topics: her love of the run-game, how to keep her injury free, her plans for a future marathon and when is the best time for a runner to have a baby.
Meet Adrienne- a young woman who wants to run free, train hard and start a family. Here is her story.
Never Stop Running,
In the Spring of 2014 I started running outside….again. I have always consistently exercised for most of my adult life, yet running has come and gone. I never really liked it that much and I rarely stuck with it. In the past I only ran to burn calories so I could enjoy an extra dessert or beer without packing on the pounds (true story!). But in 2014 something was different. I still don’t know what exactly changed, but I will always be forever grateful for that “something” that made me ready to explore myself, push my limits and truly fall in love with running. I started doing my normal 3 mile loop over and over again. I was equipped with overly-loved gym clothes and sneakers that were at least two full sizes too small. I started venturing down new routes and gained confidence when I started going out a little further and longer each time. Not only was I exploring my hometown, but I was gradually uncovering a whole new side of myself.
I toyed with the idea of signing up for a race, perhaps it was time I tried out a 10K (since I had only done 5K’s in the past). Around the same time that I was toying with the idea of running a 10k I miraculously got an email from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announcing the BAA half marathon on Columbus Day Weekend. I quickly did the math, realized I’d have exactly 12 weeks to train, and excitedly signed up! Only then did I realize that I had missed the actual registration and was signing up for a pool of second chances!! I would find out in a few weeks if I was randomly selected or not. I was so nervous and excited about the thought of training for a half marathon that it became all I could think about. I told myself if it was meant to be I will be selected out of the drawing, if not, then it wasn’t meant to be. But while I was waiting to find out if I was in or not, I had my mind set on running this half marathon and I felt I would be devastated if I wasn’t in. When I got the acceptance email I was so utterly thrilled you would’ve thought I just found out I was accepted to Harvard.
I went to a running store to get fitted for sneakers and chose an online generic “beginners half marathon training program” and tried to stick with it as best I could. I took training seriously and never missed a Sunday long run. I loved going further and further each Sunday and found myself nervously looking forward to these Sunday long runs week after week. After I was done I felt so good and couldn’t wait to run again. Going into the race I thought, ok I can check this off my bucket list when I am done, and will never have to run a half marathon again. That mentality completely changed after the race. I was chock full of nerves on race day! I completed the race without stopping once and with a time of 2:04, and I love it and was hooked. After that race I never even once thought again about NOT doing another, infact, that is when I decided that I one day I will run a full marathon.
In July of 2015, one year into my love affair with running, and just after finishing my second half marathon, I learned I had a stress fracture in my foot. Doctor’s orders: no running for at least 3 months. I was devastated, stressed angry and flat out worried. I had come to love and rely on running so much, what would I do without it? How would I cope with my day to day stress and still feel happy? And even worse, what if I fell out of love with running?
I fell into a funk for a while, until my husband helped pullme out of it. I started doing what exercises I could to stay in shape, reading running books, and then one day I reached out to Kass with an email. She gave me some of the best advice and words that will always stick with me.
“Running ebbs and flows with your life.”
I had never really thought of running in this way before but it made sense and hit home with me. I didn’t always have to be training for a race. There will be times when I use running for different reasons. There will be different things going on in my life which will allow me to run more or less. Kass also helped me get on a running plan post injury and taught me many lessons on how to stay injury free. I ran two races post injury and PRed in both of them. I was even lucky enough to race the Frozen 5K in January with Kass and some other athletes of hers and it was such an amazing fun day. Two days later I found out I am pregnant!
Since running my second half marathon and overcoming my injury I have had running a full marathon on my radar. I also had a pretty strong case of baby fever and was anxious to start a family. I wanted both and I wanted them at the same time. I talked about this a lot to friends, family, coworkers- anyone really. It was an ongoing joke with everyone I know whether 2016 would be the year of the marathon or the year of the baby. Most people, whether solicited or not for advice, would suggest, “run the marathon first and get it over with, because once you have a baby you will never have the time”. For some reason this advice stuck with me and actually made me want to do the opposite. I don’t want to run a marathon to “get it over with”, “check it off my bucket list” and be done with it. If you had asked me three years ago, that would be exactly how I would feel about it. Now, not so much. I also really don’t like the thought that once you have a baby you won’t have the time to run. Most of the women I ran the Frozen 5K with, including Kass, have children and run. They have taught me that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, that you can have children and enjoy running.
These days I often think a lot about those same words I first heard this summer: Running ebbs and flows with your life. Today I am still running, but with a different purpose in mind. I no longer run to set PR’s and race (for now), these days I run to maintain a healthy pregnancy- and I’m okay with that. Actually, I’m better than okay. I’m happy I’m able to run for myself and my baby. I am going to run as long as I am still comfortable and enjoying myself and as long as it is healthy for me and my baby.
Don’t be fooled- after the baby I still have a marathon in my sights!! However I will wait until the time comes to decide exactly when that will be best for me and my family. In the meantime I am going to just keep enjoying my runs, my alone time and embracing life’s ebb and flow.