Back in 8th grade, as a skinny awkward early teenager, I decided that I was going to attempt to be an athlete. My chosen sport? Track. Mainly, because running didn’t require a ton of gear, wasn’t full a contact sport, was mostly individual, and my best friend at the time talked me into joining the team.
I was one season behind every other girl on the team, but I kept at it anyway. In fact, I ran on the track team for my freshman and sophomore years of high school too. I was never the fastest on the team. Nor did I medal at meets on my own. Coach Collins would stack some relays at lesser meets so that every member would get at least one medal per season. We had a small team. I think at most our team was 15 girls. But we had a vast array of talent and had state level runners every year.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fast or talented runner and I got discouraged. I didn’t run cross country in the fall and didn’t participate in other sports, so I spent the bulk of the beginning of each season getting into running shape and then losing that fitness after the season ended. My body suffered from that cycle of non-training to intense training and my entire sophomore season was spent trying to recover from shin splints. At the end of the season, my running shoes were officially tossed to the back of my closet and promptly forgotten.
Fast forward about 10 years. I was three years post college and living a fairly sedentary lifestyle and about 30 lbs too heavy for my frame. Seriously, I’d walk up a flight of stairs and I would be very winded. I was unhappy with how I looked and how I felt, so I started looking for ways to increase my fitness. I thought about lifting weights, but I gravitated back to running. Why running? Mainly because I could run anywhere and I only needed a good pair of shoes to get started. So I started running again, very slowly at first. 13-14 minutes per mile with lots of walking breaks. But I’m happy to say that I’ve not had a case of shin splints again since that fateful sophomore track season.
So how did I go from always being plagued with injuries to running regularly? Easy. I started reading about running. Books, Runner’s World, websites. You name it! I was looking up information and digesting everything I could devour on the subject of running. It didn’t hurt that the little Nike iPod tracker had just come out when I decided to get back into running regularly. Nothing like a little financial motivation to light a fire under one’s ass. I also found my local RRCA and started running with their beginner friendly Monday evening group in the spring. Going on nearly six years later and I still drop in on Monday evenings to get my miles in when I can. Last spring, I started hitting up the track workouts on Wednesday evenings. My goal was to get faster. In the process, I found four sole sisters, that I run with on most Thursday evenings. We’ve also done a few races together and have totally built ourselves a little running tribe.
Running has progressed into something so much more for me than just a form of exercise. I joined Oiselle’s Volee in August 2015, looking for a group of like minded women from all corners of the world. Well, mainly the US, but they are expanding! It amazes me how just one tiny women’s running apparel company has made such a huge impact in my life. Besides having awesome and cute apparel, the community available through social media is blowing me away. Strong, fierce women building each other up and supporting one another in all aspects of life, not just in running. These are the women that inspire me to get out and chase after my dreams.