A running journey

We each have our own fitness journey. I’m not referencing participating in a sport, but being involved with an activity to improve your health.  

Some people like to ride outdoor bikes, mountain biking or road biking.  Some people like to go to the gym and lift weights or participate in fitness classes. (That was curtailed at the start of Covid-19.) Some people have their own home gym.  The list is endless.

My go-to activity is hiking and running. I fell in love with running in high school.  The first experience was being on the track team my freshman year and we discovered I had a natural ability for long distance. So my sophomore year, I joined the cross-country team. 

Those feel-good endorphins, the runner’s high, is a great side affect. Running also unknowingly brought some freedom into my life.

Once married and being a mom, that slowed me down a bit and couldn’t run daily any more. Part of it was also being a working (and traveling) mom.

But I found a way to fit in a run at least 3-4 days a week. It was exciting for me when our sons were involved in running too at one point. Both were very good but didn’t love it like their mom.

I’ve been part of many running groups and know many people who’ve had to stop because of knee or hip issues. I’ve known a few who had heart attacks and had to stop running.  I’ve dealt with cancer several times and a brain tumor.  But I got back into running slowly each time. 

The best gift the boys ever gave was running a 5K with me two weeks before the major cancer surgery in 2014 on my 49th birthday. They know running was important to mom. 

I’ve written about how running helped me get back to ‘normal‘ after cancer. It wasn’t easy after all those surgeries.  Thankfully, running brought my mojo back. 

Running is still the go-to activity in my mid-50’s. I don’t run everyday and don’t run half-marathons or marathons. Participating in a half-marathon is something I’ve done before and didn’t enjoy it. I run because I still can. 

We have to make adjustments throughout life. Remember to give yourself some grace and time to recover from each run (or any fitness activity). Our bodies take longer to recover as we age. Respect that.

Mix up your activities. That’s why I incorporate some cross training, and do yoga each day, which is needed regardless if I’ve run or not. And trail running is my favorite because I’m out in nature and trails are easier on the body than roads (concrete).

Want to try and start running?  These are my tips:

(1) Invest in a good pair of running shoes. I recommend getting your gait confirmed – are you a neutral runner? Does your foot pronate?  There are so many running shoe options out there – it’s best to get advice from someone who runs regularly. Now that stores are open to the public again, check one out. Big Peach Running is popular in the Atlanta area. Having the right type of running shoe will also help reduce any pain.

(2) Start with a run/walk pace.  Don’t overdo it – start with just 1 mile. Many people give up on running because they push themselves too hard too soon. Walk on the days you don’t run/walk.  

(3) Don’t focus on the speed or pace. That’s not important. What’s important is that you are moving…one step at a time. 

(4) Incorporate stretching before and after.  Stretching your legs and hips before a run looses up your muscles, and stretching after a run helps the muscles recover. 

(5) Allow time for recovery.  Don’t run everyday. Example – You can run every other day or every third day.  It depends on how many miles you are doing.

(6) Repeat.  Make it into a habit if you want to continue. Don’t give up too soon – give yourself at least 30 days.

It’s a lifestyle change. It’s a running journey.


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