Do you remember the day you became a runner? I do, like it was yesterday. I can still smell the early morning air and feel the sticky cotton T-shirt clinging to my sweaty back as I hurtled myself to the stop sign at the end of my street, signaling that I had run AN ENTIRE MILE for the very first time in my life. My first imaginary finish line, September 14, 2006. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of amazement that I – the chubby, lazy girl who usually gave up instead of pressing on – had run farther than I ever thought possible and lived to tell the tale.
In my line of work as a fitness trainer and running coach, I have had the immense privilege of witnessing other REAL women experience that first runner’s high, that thrill of accomplishing a feat that seemed like something only “other people” could do.
When I first met Nicole, she had already lost fifty pounds on her own and was walking for exercise pretty regularly. She told me in no uncertain terms that she had zero interest in running, and I didn’t argue with her. Not everybody wants to run, and that’s cool. And yet... As we spent time together, it became clear that she would rather be outdoors for her workouts, and she asked repeatedly if we could add “a little” running into her sessions. Little by little, 30 second interval by 30 second interval, we chipped away at her resistance and mental roadblocks. And then one day, there was this:
Sharon was on board with running from the get-go. Well, she said she was on board, but we had to jump over a lot of mental hurdles to actually get there. It’s hard to achieve something when the chatter in your head keeps telling you that you can’t, so I made it my mission in life to talk a little louder than the chatter. May 23, 2013. We set off at a nice, easy pace and I started talking. And talking. I didn’t let up until we had run our mile and were on the home stretch. I told her to give it everything she had, and man, did she have plenty! She left me in her dust, and then it was time for me to shut up and let her listen to the new voice in her head. The one that said she was a runner now.
Fran will tell you that she had never exercised a single day in her life before she started working with me at age 63, but you would never know it to see her now. She reminds me of nothing so much as The Little Engine That Could. When Fran gets an idea in her head, you can rest assured that it’s going to happen, so when she decided to tackle running, I was excited to be there for the big day. July 3, 2014. We had been doing run/walk intervals for several months, and it was time to push a little harder. I didn’t tell her beforehand that I thought we could do a whole mile, because I didn’t want her to overthink it. We just set off the way we always did, and I kept saying, “Let’s see if we can get to that garbage can.” And “How about if we go to the corner?” Before she knew what we had done, we were finished! I admit it, I cried.
Mary was already a runner before I met her, but her training was pretty sporadic. She had done a few 5Ks, but when we talked about moving up to the next level, a 10K, tears came to her eyes. The thought of running that far was overwhelming. What if she couldn’t do it? Oh, but what if she could? I employed my favorite training technique with Mary – I had complete and absolute confidence that she could tackle anything she wanted to. Because of course she could! She just had to learn it for herself. Mary has since gone on to complete not just a 10K, but two kick-ass half marathons as well.
I have more stories of more REAL women, breaking down their mental barriers and letting themselves experience the amazing joy of moving their bodies and discovering the freedom and power that comes from being fit, but let’s talk about you for a minute. Do you remember the obstacles you overcame on your path to fitness? What if I told you that you could help somebody else get started on their journey to a healthier life just by using a hashtag? Check this out:
Skirt Sports is on a mission to empower women and young girls to make fitness and health a priority, and wants to know your REAL story. What obstacles do you face? What are your goals? And what keeps you moving forward?
Post your active photos and videos on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook with the tags #REALwomenmove and #SkirtSports. For every 5,000 hashtags used, Skirt Sports will donate a Get Started Scholarship (including some awesome Skirt Sports gear and entry into a 5K!) to a deserving woman who is actively trying to break down her own barriers in running and fitness. You can tell your own REAL story or nominate a friend by clicking here.
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home says
Ugh! I’ve been such a slug as of late and in a very bad place mentally. But reading this reminded me that I am still a badass thanks to you!!! I’m super proud of my performance at the Lost Trails 5k, and can’t wait til my next race!!!
What beautiful stories! I’m sure you make an incredible coach. I remember the first time I ran twice (IN A ROW!!) around the track in junior high. It only took me another 15 years or so before I would actually call myself a runner.