The Smarter, Stronger Runner

A Guest Post by Michele Philips

photoMy first marathon was all guts, no glory. I was 21 when my girlfriends convinced me to do the 1997 Marine Corps Marathon. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t train properly, my longest run before the race was 13 miles, and I knew nothing about hydration or nutrition. I injured my right knee so badly during that race and in the end was just happy it was over. I thought, “Well, I put a check in that box.”

Two years (and not many miles) later, I decided to rectify my MCM debacle. I signed up with Team in Training to run the 2001 San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon. TNT taught me how long distance running should be done. I felt so good after that race that I was hooked. I continued to do a number of half marathons, duathlons, and even a tri. Eventually I got married, started a new job and running slipped down the list of things I wanted to do. But it was still there.

Until we had kids.

Some say that kids are no excuse to get out of shape. But, let’s face it, our lives are enriched yet turned upside down with the arrival of children. Priorities change. Sleep becomes more important than that morning run. By 2010, I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I had no plans of losing the weight from baby number two. I thought, “I’m a 35 year old woman with two kids. I do not and should not have time to exercise. This is how I’m supposed to look.”

But when I saw a picture of myself, I was not happy with what I saw. Then, I received just the push I needed. My girlfriend asked if I wanted to join a weight-loss challenge with some gals in the neighborhood. I joined the challenge with a goal of getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

The group was run through Facebook. We would post recipes and workout routines. We would commiserate over what we ate and what we couldn’t eat. I could not have found a better group of women to go on this journey with. It was the perfect blend of support, comfort and a dose of “suck it up”.

I started running again. It was not pretty but I stuck with it. I tracked my runs using Nike+ or MapMyRun for accountability, something I had never done before. It gave me a sense of pride to see those miles stack up and see my times go down. Over the course of eight months, I lost 23 pounds and was down to my college weight. I had surpassed my original goal.

My weight was no longer an issue. I didn’t find the old me, I uncovered a smarter and stronger me. I thought, I got this far, but can I go further, dig deeper?

I had always considered myself a slow, long distance runner. I think deep down I was afraid to even try to get faster. I had written myself off years ago. I thought if I’m going to run, I should really run. Make it worth my time, give it the respect to do it right. My workouts actually got shorter, but smarter. Instead of just running for time, I started doing speed interval and tempo workouts. I concentrated on form. I even ran to a metronome. I started CrossFit workouts I never dreamed of doing – modified of course, but I improved over time.

After months of that, the 4.2 mile loop that used to take me 42 minutes now took me 32. I was faster at 36 years old than I was at 24.

I have lost the weight and have improved my fitness tremendously; but I felt “mom guilt” the entire way. Was I being selfish? Should I be spending more time with my kids, with my husband, cooking, cleaning, etc.? Most days I quiet those voices by telling myself my body and soul deserve the hour a day to decompress and reflect. I’m much nicer after a workout. However, while fitness is a priority, its place on the totem pole changes based on my family. Sometimes I have to wake up early, jog with the double stroller, swap kid duty with a friend so we both can get a run in, or just miss a workout. And that’s okay too.

So if you have written yourself off in any way, don’t. Go back, you have the chance to write the story and have it turn out the way you want it to. Find a supportive group that shares the same stresses and goals. And why “just do it” when you can crush it? You owe it to yourself to try.

Michele was a Naval Officer for six years, an Engineer for four, and has been a loving wife and mother for eight years and counting. She is originally from Long Island, NY and currently resides near Annapolis, MD with her husband and two children. In addition to Ann’s Running Commentary, some of her favorite fitness websites are Body Rock TV, Workout Like a Girl and CrossFit Cranton

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About Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan is first and foremost a mom of three beautiful children. She is the managing editor of Beyond Limits Magazine and the creator of Ann’s Running Commentary. In 2012, Ann took Ann’s Running Commentary to new levels – first with a segment on the RunRunLive Podcast, chronicling her journey to her first Ironman and second, with a new channel on YouTube. Currently Ann is working on a non-fiction book series and working hard every day to remind people to get up, get active and get out there.
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2 Responses to The Smarter, Stronger Runner

  1. MichelleO says:

    Great guest post! I completely identify with you. Last year started running after YEARS of not doing anything. I am now training for my first half marathon and looking into cross training and other things to improve my running. I wish I had done all of this sooner, but so glad I did not put it off for another day.

  2. Michele P says:

    Michelle, thanks! I just want other people to realize that it’s never too late to start, or start over! Good luck on your half marathon!

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