The below is a guest blog from Ashley of A Healthy Happier Bear.
When friends or readers ask me how they can become a runner, I simply remind them that the only thing required to be a runner is lacing up your shoes and putting one foot in front of the other. When I started running 10 years ago, I began by doing 30-second intervals. Desperately trying to lose weight, I knew that there was no way my 200-pound frame could manage more than a few seconds of running. Each day, I added in 30 seconds of jogging to the 30 minutes of walking I did on the treadmill. In the shadows of the old, musty gym, I slowly became a runner during the course of six weeks. By Labor Day, I was able to jog for almost 30-minutes, a far cry from the 30 seconds I started with just a few months prior.
Over time, running evolved for me into a competitive sport. No, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t become a competitive elite runner. Instead, I started competing with myself and my friends every time I laced up my shoes for a run. Gone were the days when running was the time I could enjoy fresh air and relax. Instead, I had to track each run and push myself to improve my time and pace versus the prior week’s training runs. I always had a goal in mind – whether a 10K, half marathon or marathon. There was an insatiable desire to become faster and stronger. I felt as if I was making up for lost time since I didn’t grow up a runner nor an athlete. In my mid-20’s, this was the healthiest and strongest I had ever been and had to prove to myself that I could go from being someone who was overweight and out of shape to someone who could conquer 26.2 miles.
This journey to outpace myself, led to a destination I never imagined reaching – resenting running. Over the years, this self-imposed stress led me to dread weekend long runs, stress out over my training plans and when I missed goal times or paces the tears and disappointment ruined otherwise momentous occasions. I will never forget crossing the finish line at the Berlin Marathon, so upset and angry for missing my goal and not running a smart race, that I cried in the hotel room for over an hour instead of taking in the sites of Berlin and toasting to the fact that my body had carried me 26.2 miles.
Luckily, I’ve taken a step back and remembered the reason I started running. Running and the endorphins which accompanied it used to leave me happy for hours after I stripped off my clothes and unlaced my shoes. I would look forward to the time on the road either with friends or my favorite music. I started running in search of happiness versus chasing a time goal. Since making this change, every run leaves me happy and thankful – even the humid Summer runs or brutally, cold winter runs. I’m not training for a time goal – instead, I’m training to Run Happy.
At a Healthy Happier Bear, I chronicle my daily adventures in striving for a healthy, happier life. I started the blog in April 2009 to document my training for the 2010 ING NYC Marathon, my first. Since then, the blog has evolved into a place where I share my attempt to find balance. Initially, in the “city that never sleeps” and then, for two years, while living in Europe. Now I’m back in New York City and still very much a work in progress. But, my goal hasn’t changed. Each day, I do my best to inspire my readers as I balance corporate life with the roles of wife, friend, workout partner, and blogger. Visit A Healthy, Happier Bear here and find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.