It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the blogging world…partially due to some good old writer’s block, partially due to a lack of time/space/stability. In fall-related terms, I am the proverbial leaf that is hanging by a tendril to its little branch and being shaken like mad by the wind. What a time to be alive. And yes, I stole that from Drake.
Let’s talk about half marathons! I ran one. It was pretty rad.Growing up, I was never athletic. I remember every single sport I ever participated in, and I remember it specifically because it was always associated with the stinging feeling of failure. Scoring the wrong goal in Little League soccer. Not making the 7th grade volleyball team. Signing up for hurdles in high school because not that many people did it, which meant there would be less people to make fun of me. Physical activity was just not my thing, and I fully and truly made peace with it. Although I was highly competitive, I simply did not have the capacity to be successful. In college, I was in an on-again/off-again relationship with working out: the occasional intramural, the two weeks before spring break. Nothing serious. That just wasn’t me.
Interestingly enough, I credit two things with helping me own and love my body: deciding to compete for Miss Nashville and being surrounded by friends who saw fitness as much more than being a star athlete. I’m going to be honest with you: the swimsuit portion of the pageant seemed incredibly daunting. In order to even consider competing, I had to reframe that part of the competition entirely: actually, really, and truly, this had everything to do with bringing my body into its best shape and nothing to do with measurements. I began working with a trainer and opened up an entire new world of eating well and working hard—things that created a positive feedback loop that eventually became a life transformation. When I went from being sore three days after a boxing class to feeling completely confident (and even a little intimidating) and from feeling sluggish to totally energized through clean eating, I knew I had made the right choice. Even if it was an unconventional path, competing in pageants helped me learn to own and love my body and my choices.
To balance this, I was surrounded by friends (yay for our generation!) that have realized that wellness isn’t reserved for the elite—anyone and everyone can make small commitments to themselves, and encourage others along the way. I remember going on a run with my friends Sarah and Danielle one day and being nervous (because I thought I was going to be too slow) and their total lack of judgement. I realized that you didn’t have to be the best to be good—to yourself and your body.
I decided to run a half marathon shortly after competing at Miss Tennessee for a few reasons: because I love a good challenge, and because I wanted to prove to my Little League self that you don’t have to be the best at everything to be good at and enjoy something. With help from Sarah (who ran a FULL MARATHON this spring holy cow) I set up a training plan and crossed the finish line this past Sunday. I also got this REALLY BIG MEDAL that I am going to hang up in every room I sleep in from now until forever (sorry, future spouse).
Throughout the twelve weeks that I prepared for my first half marathon, I definitely learned some valuable things along the way. And if running’s not your thing, I think these tips still apply to any fitness-related goal you might have!
1. Be intentional. Any success starts with a goal. Make sure that goal is kind: it should never start with “I want to weigh…” or “I want to look like…” You deserve to be healthy for you. Once your intentions are set, work to develop a specific plan. This might include working with a trainer. For my half marathon, I used this training plan from Hal Higdon, recommended to me by Sarah.
2. Commit, commit, commit! If we only exercised when we felt like it, most of us would rarely exercise (I am the first to admit this). Find something that motivates you—whether it’s posting about your new goal on Facebook, printing out a plan and sticking it on your mirror, or deciding to reach a goal with a friend. Studies have shown that we are much more likely to follow through on goals when we either write them down or share them with others, so find a way to make sure your plans don’t just stay plans.
3. Understand that you’ll be making sacrifices. For me, that meant going to bed while many of my friends were getting ready for a night out and not ODing on sugar and processed foods. Sleep and fuel are CRI-TI-CAL to success in physical activity, especially running. Just think about it—if you are already working so hard to reach this goal and are putting in good work, why would you sabotage it by eating something that will make you sick or driving yourself to exhaustion? You pay for your choices one way or another—but making sacrifices to prioritize good sleep and food habits really paid off in the end.
4. Find a mentor. It definitely helps to have someone that has been in your shoes before to offer advice along the way, but even someone who isn’t training for the same thing as you can be a cheerleader when you need it the most, as seen below.
A friend to the end, that gal.
5. Listen and love your body. Let’s be real: every run is not going to a great run, days in the gym are going to feel like a total bust, and impromptu pizza happens (and should!). At the end of the day, you need to celebrate your wins, however small they feel, and learn from your mistakes! Nobody wants to feel like Little League me when they didn’t succeed. Love yourself and see wellness as a way to invest in your one precious and wonderful life. Remember these words from John Steinbeck.I’m really happy that I finished this half marathon, and especially happy that I did it because it was uncomfortable for me. No incredible race time or first place trophies—just a fear of inadequacy and a determination to conquer it.
Go out and be good! Love your one perfect and beautiful self.