Fellow runner: “Can you believe the year is already over?”
Me- “Yeah, thank goodness”
Fellow runner: "That bad huh?"
It was a bit harsh, I’ll admit.
But personally, 2018 was a year full of some deep and personal pains.
It included variations of depression, cancelling a wedding, ending a relationship, working through trauma counseling, losing friends, who I know now, were never actually my friends, leaving a job that once defined me, letting go of a stable income, and moving to a new state, embarking on the unknown ….
In summary, the year was filled with months. . . days, hours and moments of breakdowns, crying, low self-esteem, anger, regret, fear, shame. etc. etc. Just all the negativity possible.
Running, for many people, is a great way to escape from life's issues and turmoils, find new strength, or gain new perspective.
So considering the personal battles I faced in 2018, my mind told me "GO FOR A RUN."
In years past, running was a great way to clear my head.
If I was angry, I would let the negative thoughts in my head pound through my feet, onto the pavement, and leave them behind as I ran forward.
In years past, running was a great way to find clarity.
If I couldn't solve a problem, stepping away from the issue and making time for myself, often led me in exactly the direction or straight to the answer that I needed.
In years past, running was a great way to find my inner strength.
Working hard to achieve a goal, pushing my body to its limits, or feeling the strength of clicking time off the clock all gave me self-confidence that trickled into every arena of my life.
But in 2018.... it didn't work.
My mind said -- "Go for a run"
A voice said back -- "I don't want to."
So then my mind said -- "Set goals to get motivated...sign up for a race."
But with slow times and powerless legs, I felt even worse about myself.
So then my mind said -- "TRAIN HARDER!"
But my body struggled to even get myself out of bed...
After a few months of a yo-yo relationship with running (which was actually in 2017), I let it go.
I stopped running.
I stopped thinking about races.
I didn't set any future running goals.
By the way, I'm not sure that I've truly done this since I started running, probably around 14 years old. Even when I was injured, I took time off running, but my mind and actions were still focused on rehab in order to eventually "get back to running." So the difference in 2018 is, I just stopped everything....completely.
As I worked through the areas of my life that truly needed attention, which was NOT running, and I found out what mattered in mylife. . .
. . . honesty, acceptance, forgiveness, family, choices, truth
As I let go of what people thought of me,
. . . of titles that I thought defined me, including my job or being a runner, of social media, and the facades of weddings and relationships
As I let go of emotional pain that was holding me down. . .
. . .
I found myself going out for a 2 mile run.
It was slow. I didn't set any expectations on myself. I simply ran a few miles, sporadically, when my body and my mind felt like it.
I did it because I could. No other reason.
I did it because my body let me.
I did it because my mind let me.
That, in and of itself, is an amazing thing.
As many of you already know,
Through adversity we find clarity…
Through failures, we find answers…
When at the bottom, we have no place to go but up…
And when we feel our weakest, somehow we find power whether within ourselves, or from those around us.
So as much as parts of me want to literally run away from 2018, I am grateful to be moving forward with clarity, answers, power and much more that I learned through the struggles. These life lessons vary from relationships, to job, to introspection and more.
And as I slowly started to let "jogging" back into my life, I learned one more lesson of 2018 ...
In late November, my boyfriend wanted to sign us both up for a half marathon that was just 3 weeks away. He thought it would make me happy.
I freaked out.
...I wasn't "in-shape."
...I hadn't been running,
...I would let myself down.
I told him no.
A few days later, I finally realized that my performance in this half marathon didn't matter at all.
What mattered was sharing a day, and an experience, with somebody who matters in my life.
So without training, we showed up on Dec 2, 2018 to the San Antonio Rock and Roll Half Marathon.
We did it.
And guess what
IT WAS THE MOST FUN DAY THAT I HAD IN 2018!
Running! In a completely non-competitive manner. JUST running.
I ran 13.1 with a smile, feeling the energy from the crowds, fist pumping to the music, and crossing the finish line holding hands with a person who cares about my happiness and wellbeing.
After over a year of struggling with running, and then an entire 2018 of NOT running....Running was fun once again.
During one of my hardest times of 2018 my sister related my personal struggles to running and said:
"I know you are strong enough to run through the pain, but I want you to run pain free."
Essentially, it was time to stop struggling, get help, and find happiness within myself.
Ironically, her running metaphor was literal as well.
When I was unhappy in life, I was physically and mentally in pain running as well. But when I found freedom within myself, running was possible, and enjoyable, once again.
This is yet another reason why Rise Up Nutrition is near and dear to my heart. As a dietitian and a runner, it makes sense to own a business that helps runners eat! But it goes so much deeper than that...
Running should make you happy, no matter how "elite" or "recreational" you are with it.
Guess what else should make you happy?
Food should make you happy, no matter how "serious" you are with training, health or not.
But sadly, many runners get stuck, held back, under pressure, feeling constrained by their diets. To the point where eating, or running, or being around family and friends during meals, isn't fun anymore.
These runners need help, just as I needed help in other areas of my life in 2018. So as my sister said, why run through the pain when you can run pain free?...
Why struggle with eating, when there is a dietitian who wants to, and can, help you?
Helping others find a diet that brings them happiness with themselves, their nutrition choices, and their running is what Rise Up Nutrition is all about.
You'll hear me talk of a "winning diet" often. For some, it can be a diet that brings them to a new PR. For others, a winning diet is one that breaks them free of the constraints that have been holding them back. And perhaps for others, a winning diet is the one that simply makes them FEEL like a winner, like I did on Dec 2 2018.
I have goals for 2019...
For my perspective on life...
training my dog....
my job and business....
... but my goal with running is simple: to smile.
Obviously I won't be smiling while panting up a hill...
Let's be real!
But if I can start a run with a smile because I WANT to run...
And if I can finish a run with a smile no matter my time, just being grateful that my body and mind allowed me to run....
Then it's making me happy.
And my goal in 2019 is to do what makes me happy.