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For the Love of Running

I love to run! I haven’t always loved running. I remember hating running in school when we had to run a mile in gym class. It felt like torture and I was so slow. I didn’t play a lot of sports growing up. I am pretty sure I cried during my first attempt at t-ball and aimlessly ran around a soccer field one season. I can count the number of dance classes I attended as a kid on my hands and I somehow (I practiced for hours each night during tryouts) made our high school’s dance team. I share my dismal background in organized sports as a way to point out that my love for running isn’t derived from sports. 

I don’t remember when my passion for running emerged, but I do remember the 8 full marathons I completed. Yes…I (or for my first couple my dad) paid to run 26.2 miles. I’ve finished countless half marathons and at this point logged a lot of miles. I’ve run the streets of downtown LA, beach paths in the South Bay, neighborhoods in St. Louis, on a treadmill in Hong Kong, through Disneyland and Disneyworld, the hills of San Francisco and my absolute favorite through the five boroughs of New York (twice!). Running is always there for you and humbles you. Some runs are great and result in a euphoric feeling like floating on a cloud and others suck and make you question why you even bother with lacing up your running shoes. As much as I love running, I don’t love the recovery as evident with relentless knee pain in 2018. 

I’ll never forget the day I was jogging along on a treadmill and bam…a sharp pain in my left knee. I tried to jog it off and when I recognized it wasn’t going away decided to finish the mile anyway (probably not my smartest move, but my runner friends will totally understand). Wishfully, I hoped taking a few days off would fix the probably and I’d be running pain free again in no time. Nope. Instead of being a responsible adult and consulting with a doctor, I pouted and believed my days of running were over. 

Thankfully, I hired a coach in 2018 and one of the things I talked about was missing running. As much as I thought I could move on from running, being a runner ran deep into my identity. My coach held me accountable to physical therapy and that fall I cranked out a 5k Turkey Trot in my hometown. Since then, my relationship with running has been on again and off again. I was a great student (no surprise…straight A student here) when in PT but as soon as my visits with the doctor ceased so did my band exercises. 

In 2019, I turned to hot yoga to fill the running void (thank you to the creator of yoga sculpt especially in a heated room!). Finding my flow ended up serving a larger purpose than working out. I went into 2019 with the desire to figure out my next professional step. I was ready for growth and had two ideas of how that growth could play out. I was either going to move up in my former company or start my own coaching practice…well I am sure you can tell which path emerged (thank you universe!). I’ll never know for sure, but I can’t help but wonder if the knee pain was a way to guide me to yoga? I know it sounds kind of ridiculous, but I don’t think I would have become such a yogi without a drastic need to pivot. I love the heart pumping, sweat dripping, mind freeing aspects of cardio. Being forced to try something new, I learned that sculpt also makes you sweat and the incredible tingling feeling during a long namaste might rival the running high. It turns out yoga gave me exactly what I needed at that time in my life. I needed a change of pace, an intentional focus, the reminder to prioritize my breath (not to hash out the details of my last interaction with my boss or project potential outcomes of my upcoming leadership meetings like what occupied my mind during runs) and to slow down. Yoga encouraged me to listen to me and to lean into my intuition which is a huge reason I am even sharing this post today. 

I grew the confidence and courage to follow my heart and start my own coaching practice at the end of 2019. I continued my yoga practice into 2020 and was just starting to master my headstand when we quarantined due to COVID-19. I will be forever grateful for Core Power granting members access to online courses. Those online yoga courses were my sanity in the early months of lock down when I barely left our two-bedroom downtown LA apartment. 

Thankfully, at the start of the summer we moved out of downtown near the beach (my dream thank you again universe). I am now emersed in a place I’ve run countless times (although running near the beach no longer involves driving, parking and then running). I am so blessed to be able to lace up my shoes and have access to a running path where I can hear the ocean waves crashing. After a long break of barely running I decided to treat myself to a new pair of Brooks (my go-to running shoe) and start re-building the mileage. 

I still have the fear that the dreadful knee pain will strike again but I am not going to live my life in fear. This time around, I am stretching a bit and running less back-to-back days. I’m less worried about my finish time and don’t care if I incorporate some run/walking intervals. I can’t believe I used to think I wasn’t a real runner if I took walk breaks. F that! 

Because of my newfound and less rigid approach to running I was able to crush a 10k (6.2 miles) this month. I am so grateful for the Village Runner for deciding to move forward with this annual run (virtually of course). I’ve run the Manhattan Beach 10k several times in the past and have always loved the race. There’s just something so special about running in your favorite place! The MB 10k was the exact clarity (check out this post to read more about clarity) I needed to establish a regular running routine again. 

I knew I wanted to get back into running again this year and I would casually run a bit here and there. Once I received the email notification about the MB 10k, I knew I wanted to train (ahhh…how I missed this feeling). I went to my trusty training site (Hal Higdon) and printed off a 10k plan. I used the plan to determine the days I would run and the days I would practice yoga. Then I blocked the time (major follow through strategy) on my calendar to ensure I could follow through with the plan. 

With each run my confidence grew. I stared to feel like my old running self again. I eased back into increasing mileage and courageously ran further without walk breaks. The consistency of the training plan allowed me to finish the MB 10k, but more importantly allowed me to feel like a runner again.