My name is Meghann and I’m a runner. It’s what I love, it’s what I do, and it’s who I am. But that’s not how it always was.
At the beginning of January 2008, I was not in a happy place. I was stuck in a town I had outgrown, with a boy who was just as lost as I was, in a job I had no passion for. I wasn’t sure what my next move should be, so I sat on my couch and wallowed.
I had put on a good amount of weight after graduation, but I wasn’t aware of just how much until a fateful doctor’s appointment forced me to step on a scale and face the fear I had been ignoring. The number on the scale wasn’t me, the unhappy feeling I felt inside wasn’t me, and the person I saw in the mirror wasn’t me. I couldn’t live like this – I needed a change.
So I made a change. That month, I put on a pair of running shoes and never looked back. Scratch that, I didn’t put on a pair of running shoes, I put on a pair of regular sneakers I bought sophomore year of college that were practically unused.
The first runs were terrible; I couldn’t even make it to the end of the street and back without stopping to walk. I was slow and out of shape, but I was determined. I knew nothing about running – nothing. Which is a good thing because that meant there was no added pressure of knowing better. I wore cotton clothes, the wrong shoes, and ran as far as I could for as long as I could without even a guess to what my pace was or total distance covered.
I didn’t know any other runners, so there was no one to compare myself to. It was just me, the road, and my iPod. I’m actually glad I didn’t know as much about running back then, there might have been too much pressure to “do it right” and I might have given up. Not knowing anything in the very beginning was a blessing in disguise. I was proud of my accomplishments because it was all I knew.
As my addiction to running blossomed, so did my appreciation for healthy food. I slowly weeded out the junk food in my pantry and replaced it with whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. I educated myself on healthy eating and discovered the better I felt eating real food, the more I stuck with it.
As the months wore on, I felt awesome. I found a hobby I loved and a reason to get outside and start living life again. Running was giving me a sense of purpose. I was setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and succeeding. I was also losing the weight. In just a few months I had dropped all of my post-college weight and was back to the size I was in high school.
At the end of summer, the relationship with my boyfriend at the time had come to an end. I moved back home with my parents, was jobless, and had every reason to go back to square one. But something strange happened. I didn’t curl up in a ball, I was actually excited for a new chapter in my life. I started to set my goals higher.
Over the next six months I finally learned what a real training plan was and ran my first half marathon and full marathon. I bought my first pair of “real” running shoes, and made new running friends. I started blogging about all the new milestones and re-discovered the person I knew I could be.
Through the years, I’ve tried different fitness fad and routines, but nothing has stuck like running has. Running has always been my passion and my one constant in my life. No matter what happens in life, I can always throw on a pair of running shoes and know everything is going to be okay. Running calms me down, let’s me think, and always gives me new goals to work for.
Six years later and I’m still a running fiend. I wonder what my 22-year-old self would say if she discovered I was still running today. My mom likes to occasionally joke about the fact that I wasn’t a fan of sticking to things when I was a kid. I pretty much dropped everything (soccer, ballet, violin, trumpet, etc.) as soon as she told me I didn’t have to do it anymore. I guess I just never found my passion as a kid. When you find your passion, you stick to it. Running is my passion.
How did you fall in love with running? Share your story in the comments.
Meghann Anderson-Russell is a seven-time marathoner and 2013 IRONMAN Florida finisher. When she’s not training for her next big race, she writes the blog Meals and Miles – one girl’s journey through food and running.