Sometimes as we move through life we make choices that at the time seem relatively inconsequential. The choice seems right so we go with it. Enough said. Well, maybe.
In reflecting on the changes I’ve made in my life over the last year, it is amazing to me to see how one choice lead to many other choices that have substantially changed the course of my life in many ways. Fortunately, these changes have been very positive for me. I’ve pushed my physical body further than I thought I could, I’ve lost weight and I’ve met people I would not have met otherwise!
The desire to run and following through with that desire has brought so many gems into my life. You see, when I first started running, I ran alone after work. Then as the days moved into the fall, the days grew shorter. After daylight savings ended in October, there was zero “light” in the sky at night when I ran. No longer comfortable with running alone, I joined MeetUp and found an amazing and supportive group of runners. Within a week I was running with them (well, we were meeting at places and running). It was especially funny to me then, as I had watched them run at night through my neighborhood for years and wondered how they knew one another. Now I knew!
After joining the running group, I was encouraged to run races that I had not even dreamt of at that point. Harbor Lights Half-Marathon and the Turkey Trot 10K in the same week. Rugged Maniac 5K, The upcoming Marine Corp Marathon and the Armed Services YMCA Mud Run. I was reminded that it was not about my pace and, instead, it was about my ability to complete the race. “You’re running more today that you did on the couch last week,” was another encouraging statement that I often heard when I felt my training distances were “not enough.”
Just a year ago, I joked with my physical therapy clients that I could only complete a marathon if I could see it in my mind first. I used this analogy to help them to see the value of visualization in meeting their own goals. Little did I know that I would be running half-marathons and training for a full marathon a year later. Oh, and I would have thought anyone crazy who would have suggested that I would be completing something like the Rugged Maniac, too. Climbing walls & cargo nets, mud, running, jumping?! “You must be insane!” is what I would have thought!
By training for and running in races, I’ve changed my physical body. I’ve lost weight and in its place I’ve gained strength. In addition to running more, I’ve also been cross training in the gym. This helps to reduce my injury risks and to keep me from burning out on running as my sole form of activity. By doing the Rugged Maniac race, I’ve learned that my upper body strength needs some more focus. Now I have 3 months to prepare for another mud run, so I’m now doing push ups, dips and pull ups. I’m now excited by these challenges, instead of being afraid of them, as I would have felt just last year.
The most amazing part of running, however, has been the people that I have met and befriended along the way. Joining the running MeetUp group lead me to joining a local singles group. This is something I would not have done without encouragement from those I met running. Before meeting some of them in person, I had believed that the singles group was more of a “meat market” rather than a group of singles who gathered together to have fun with others. After several months of going to singles group MeetUps, I’m now more comfortable in a crowds. In fact, I now test as an extrovert instead of an introvert on the Myers-Briggs test. To me, this is absolutely amazing!
So in looking back on it the decision to start running has been a very positive, life and personality altering new beginning for me!
Finding My Tribe talks further about some of these changes.