My Running Journey

My relationship with running is long, complicated but also amazing. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that I have been running almost everyday since the end of March. This was a mixture of having enough of my bad habits, and due to COVID-19.

My History with Running

First, I want to tell you about my history with running. From the ages of 15-21, I was an avid runner. I ran frequently, was in shape, ate fairly well, and had a better grasp on my mental health. Then, I graduated University and was thrown into the “real world”. For the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have school to define me. To define my being, my reasoning as a person. I thought I wanted to continue on with school for longer, but I couldn’t do it anymore. So when I started working full time, I just stopped running. Which resulted into a domino effect into no longer caring for myself physically and mentally.

It could have been the shock of entering the “real world”, but it was also because I was working in retail, and in a very toxic, demanding job. I do thank that job for many things – the skills I learned, the people I’ve met, I really grew as a person. But that job was physically and mentally demanding. I had to be “on” 24/7. I was constantly told that I am on a stage, for everyone to see. My every move was being watched as I continued to climb the promotional ladder. And as I continued to move up in the company, the demands increased from my managers. I had to work literally all the time. We had group chats on our phones, which meant I needed to be reachable. And why?! I’m not a doctor?! I sold laptops and electronics… I thought things could wait until I was physically in the store but apparently that isn’t the case. Then came July 2018 – I was moved to a store I didn’t want to go to because of the toxic leadership and environment. That is when my mental and physical health truly went downhill. I was nervous, anxious, irritable, all.the.time. I wasn’t surrounded by leaders, I was surrounded by bullies. Every single move, every single I word I said, was watched, documented and ridiculed. I woke up in the morning with a sense of ultimate dread in my life. I hated my job. I hated the direction my life was going. I had no consistent schedule in my life because I was at the mercy of my job. I was stuck. Too stuck to even try to get out of it.

Then, in December 2018 I left, and it was the best decision of my LIFE. Truly. Again, I thank that job for a lot of the things I have in my life, but it really ran its course. The chapter closed. The book was finished. It was time to open another one. I started a new job in January, and felt so, so much better. I was actually treated as an adult at this job. I worked Monday-Friday, 8-4, a consistent schedule. I felt SO GOOD. But still.. something was missing? And I wasn’t really sure what it was.

On top of that, I developed asthma. From November 2018 there were nights where I thought I was going to die from not being able to breathe – it was scary. But every doctor I saw told me it was “all in my head” or a “sinus infection” until FINALLY, I was told it was asthma in March 2019. And honestly, I was upset. I wanted to run that spring and summer and try to feel like me again since I got a new job. I was thankful to have my two puffers to get me through breathing difficulties – but does that mean I can’t run long anymore?

August 2019 is when I feel like I hit rock bottom with my physical appearance. I gained a lot of weight from being stressed, from experiencing imposter syndrome with my new job, and just still felt stuck. There was a picture I saw of myself at an event, and I couldn’t even believe it was me. I didn’t recognize the girl in the photo – and not just because of the physical aspects, but I could tell that girl in the photo was not happy. I was overweight, and I was unhealthy. I didn’t eat the right foods, and instead, was constantly drinking sugary, fat filled lattes from Starbucks, and eating a full, big sized chocolate bar every night, with no vegetables or fruits in sight. I didn’t even FEEL healthy, let alone look it. I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was like my brain and my body entered an epiphany… I had to change.

SO, I started with my eating habits. I *tried* to go for a run, but because I was overweight, I got constant shin splints, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t do ANYTHING. So I decided I needed to change my diet first, and make it a habit before I could try to run again. I ate more vegetables, more fruits, and cut out the sugary drinks, and take out during my lunch and dinner. And I started to see myself in a better light! And!!! I FELT better. I had MORE energy. Things were looking up!

Once I lost a little bit of that weight, I started to go for really long walks outside, and going to the gym with a friend. We took classes like Spin, Hot Yoga, etc. and I was feeling REALLY good and got into a great rhythm!

Then COVID-19 happened.

It really gave me a shock. A pandemic? Things are closing? I have to work from home? Oh, now I’m laid off? WHAT? March & April 2020 were so rough for my mental health and wellbeing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It was (and still is) a scary and uncertain time. But I didn’t let the gym closing keep me away from my goals. I went out almost everyday for very long walks on my lunch breaks, and after work. Then I decided, okay. I think I can go for a run and handle it well. I needed that routine, and something consistent in my life, especially after being laid off.

And I did it!

I slowly began running again, and built myself up to where I am today. I started out with a 3k, then 5k, to an 8k, then 10k! It was such a great feeling, and it felt SO good working towards something that helped me mentally and physically. I felt so accomplished every single day. I felt like I could go out into the world and conquer whatever I wanted. (The runner’s high is real y’all). So I kept going with it, and now my furthest run has been 15.7k run!

I signed up for a virtual 10k run for Run for Women which is on Sept. 27th. This run is for women’s mental health, which really resonated with me. All the money that is raised for this run will be going to local charities across Canada to help with women’s mental health. If you’d like to donate (every little bit helps!) you can donate here!

I am also planning to complete my first half marathon by the fall!

So…

Why did I choose running over everything else?

First off, I have always been GOOD at running. I mentioned that I used to run when I was younger, and it was because I really enjoyed it. Especially the feeling AFTER I finish my run. It’s just truly my favourite athletic thing to do, similar how to some people love to do yoga, etc.

Running gives me the ability to escape. I love that I can leave everything behind, be in nature, and be with my own thoughts. It’s made me feel happy, less anxious, less irritable, and just happy with MYSELF. It has made me happy being me.

I like hearing the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, hearing my breathing, feeling the sweat, feeling my legs work so, so hard to keep me moving. Then when I finish that run, and finally get home, I feel so incredibly proud of pushing myself to go further and work harder.

What shoes do I run with? Accessories?

So, I always had an Apple Watch, and I had simple Under Armour running shoes. That’s it! You don’t need a fitness watch to run, or anything. That’s another reason why I love running. You just need shoes. No monthly membership, no fancy stuff. But thankfully I have my Apple Watch which I love, because I love seeing how long I run and how far.

Once I became really consistent with my running, I invested in better shoes! I have the Under Armour Hovr Sonic 3! Not only are they extremely comfortable for my feet while I run, but they also have bluetooth in them which connect to the Map My Run app! Because of this, the shoes measure my cadence and steps, and I have a “coach” telling me how to improve my running/strides. I absolutely LOVE them.

Nutrition

Okay so, I want to start off by saying that I am NOT AN EXPERT at running. I am not a licensed dietician/nutritionist nor have I ever studied anything athletic related. Everything I say to these FAQ’s are because of MY PERSONAL experience. I like to share what has worked with ME. What has worked for me might not necessarily work for you. We are all different!

Before I go out for a run, I like to eat a banana and some coffee! Sometimes it’s a smoothie. But that’s it! I’ve tried having bigger meals etc, but it doesn’t sit well with my stomach and then my runs aren’t as effective. So that’s what I have to eat about an hour before my run.

After my run, I like to drink half a bottle of Gatorade. There was one day where I went for a long run, and came back and ate my usual snack, but I felt SO sick, and threw up. I was incredibly nauseous. And it was because I didn’t have enough electrolytes in my body and I over-exerted myself. SO, I always make sure to have at least half a bottle of Gatorade as soon as I am back from my run. It’s the perfect, refreshing drink, especially in the summer 😉

I take a shower right away, massage my legs, stretch then I go and have something to eat! My favourite post run snack is so simple – 2 hard boiled eggs and cooked broccoli! That’s it! Both food items are SO good for you/runners, and it’s delicious! Other than that, my eating habits aren’t anything special. I don’t follow a set diet, and I don’t count my calories. I used to have an eating disorder when I was in high school, and I don’t ever want my relationship with food to be toxic again.

I eat things like vegetables, fruit, peanut butter, plain greek yogurt, eggs, salmon, meat. That’s really it!!! BUT, if you want to be an avid runner, and run long distance, YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR DIET. You can’t eat junk 24/7 and expect to be great at running. Your body does so much during a run, so be kind to your body, and nourish it properly.

Any other tips?

If you are interested in running, my other tip would be to listen & watch for your breathing and posture. Both of those things really help with having a great run! You need to set a good breathing rhythm so that you don’t stop as much. As for your posture, DON’T SLOUCH! Keep your back straight, and your arms at a 90 degree angle. This is so, so important because it helps your strides and cadence! Plus, it works out other parts of your body too!

And I’m sure you’ve heard.. STRETCH! Make sure to stretch especially after your run! Your legs and hips are putting in so much work during these runs, so make sure to take care of them!

So friends, that is my running post! I hope I gave you a little glimpse at my running life, my history with it, and how I am doing today. Running is truly something I love with my whole heart, and I made a promise to myself to never give it up. No matter how bad my days are, how crappy the weather is, I’m going to always lace up my shoes, and go for a run.

Yours bookishly,

Sam

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