My Running Truth: Simply Try

Hi! I’m Erin, a mother to two girls (6 and 2) and have been married for just shy of 10 years. My family and I are San Jose transplants; we moved here at the end of ‘13 after living in Chicago for 11 years (and before that, I lived in the Akron, OH area until I was 18). Spending time with my family, running, reading, writing (I have a little blog, runningruminations.com, and freelance/ghostwrite for a bunch of running-related websites) — I’m pretty easy to please.

Screenshot 2017-08-28 at 11.35.53 AM.png

When did you start running, and what inspired you?

I have been running for as long as I can remember; I can recall running around my elementary school playground, around 1st grade, chasing boys while wearing frilly and lacey dresses (thanks, mom!). I ran middle school and high school track, just like my older brother and sister, and happily ran nothing longer than 400 meters because anything beyond that was “too far.”

I began marathon training for the first time in ‘07 with Team in Training (TNT), the fundraising and training arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). I wanted to honor my mom, who had survived breast cancer in ‘03 and then a stroke in ‘06, and my dear friend Traci’s mom, who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and TNT had a huge presence in the Chicago running community. I managed to convince Traci to also run the Chicago Marathon that year (and many years thereafter) with TNT, as well. Aside from taking a Track and Field PE elective my senior year of undergrad, I hadn’t run since I was a high school senior. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Initially, my draw to the marathon was a simple fundraising/bucket list thing — I figured I would never do something like this again, so why not make it memorable by doing some social good with it by fundraising? — but through the sport, I met tons of other runners, many who have become some of my closest friends. Suffice it to say that my initial inspiration came from the courage and bravery of people like my mother and Traci’s mother, as well as the many patient honorees we met through TNT; those people were the real heroes, the real badasses doing the real scary stuff. If I could do something positive and productive with my running — raising funds to help make their quality of life better, by helping to fund research to create better and more effective medications and treatment therapies, providing funds that would allow for different comfort measures or increased patient support, and the like —  then it was a no-brainer. Training for and running a marathon would be difficult, surely, but it’d pale in comparison to the stuff my mom, Traci’s mom, or the many patient honorees endured/were enduring.

 

How has running affected your personal self-esteem, body image, goal setting, as well as other aspects of your life?

By its very nature, running is difficult, whether you’re sprinting 100 meters as fast as you possibly can or are struggling to keep making forward progress for hours on end in an ultramarathon. Despite (or because of) running’s challenging nature, I find it to be supremely rewarding because in it — through it — you can see progress. Sometimes progress will manifest as times on the clock getting faster, the distances you’re capable of running getting longer, your body or your body image changing in a way that is favorable to you, or maybe for once finally feeling strong when you’re facing something insurmountable (run-related or not). Running is an excellent teacher because it challenges me to get beyond my comfort zone —  and sometimes, quite frankly, it humbles my ass and tells me that I have to try again another day! — and honestly, it’s great. I find that running gives me many opportunities to reflect and to process, and it’s in those moments — and on the runs that I share with my friends or with my kids — that I find that this little hobby of mine has empowered me in ways that I wouldn’t have anticipated when I began it in earnest a decade ago. Running has taught me that I’m physically and mentally stronger than I realize and that nothing is impossible. Some tasks or goals will be more difficult and more challenging than others, of course, but if I’m willing to put in the work, the sky’s the limit. Therein lies the beauty.

Two Cities Marathon 17 Erin Mink Garvey

What piece of advice do you have for new runners?

Give yourself both the permission to try and the permission to fail. So often we tell ourselves that we’re only capable of X or that Y is outside our wheelhouse, and we shut ourselves out from the experience.We don’t even let ourselves try! We implore our kids to be brave and try new things, but as adults, we face uncertainty and failure with far more trepidation. I think we let our fears and anxieties get the better of us, and as a result, we sell ourselves short and under-perform. So many of us undermine ourselves and in the process, do ourselves a huge disservice. Believing in yourself — and trusting yourself and your training — can go a long way. I have a temporary tattoo from SIB ‘17 that says something like “she fiercely believed in herself, and that made all the difference.” There’s a lot of truth in that.

 

Why do you keep going? What has kept you motivated to continue to reach new goals and get out the door?

I keep going simply because I have more to give; it sounds trite, but I feel it, and I know it. So many people keep me going — my supportive husband, my kids who are watching my every move, my family and friends — and I’m extremely grateful that so many people believe in me and so enthusiastically support me. I believe my best years of running are ahead of me, and I’m committed to my own progress: getting faster, going farther, digging deeper, whatever, while continuing to remain healthy. It’s really important to me that I model positive behaviors for my girls and that they see how gratifying the process can be when you work hard day in and day out to chip away at a goal. I want my girls to grow up knowing that running — and more generally speaking, regular physical movement — is a normal part of a healthy lifestyle. Plus, practically speaking, running is a social thing for me, too. Being a stay-at-home mom, my social circle is pretty small and things can be somewhat isolating, and it’s through running that I’ve made some of my closest friends, especially after my family and I moved to California. I aspire to run in a way now that will allow me to be the 90+ year-old lady you see at a race many years from now, rockin’ a sweatsuit and headband and just throwing down. Ultimately, I guess you can say that I treat my running like a long-term relationship, and my motivation to keep at it and to improve trickles down from that.

 

What are your favorite running shoes and why?

I rotate my shoes pretty regularly (and have an embarrassing number in my current mix), but my fav for the past couple years has been Hoka One One’s Clifton. They feel great on my feet, are extremely lightweight (their moonshoe look belies their weight), and I appreciate how responsive they are. I’ve used them for many training runs on roads and trails, as well as for many road races, and I couldn’t be happier with them.

 

Do you have any running buddies that have inspired you along the way?

I’m lucky to have many running buddies who have helped me, and who continue to help me, become a better runner and a better human being. We runners are so lucky because while running can be a solitary sport, it can also be extremely social; we can have it both ways if we want. I am so appreciative to have so many people in my pocket who not only understand all this weird running stuff that I do but who also encourage me and embolden me to think and dream bigger.

 

What’s on your race calendar this year?

After racing some short stuff this spring and the San Francisco Marathon in late July, I just paced the 3:33 marathon group at the Santa Rosa Marathon — my 30th marathon! — in late August. This fall, I’ll train for December’s California International Marathon (CIM), with some cross-country action with my team, Wolfpack Running Club, in the mix.          

Screenshot 2017-08-28 at 11.34.28 AM-1.png

Do you have a big, scary running goal you want to accomplish in the next five years?

I purposely haven’t put a deadline on my running goals, but arguably my biggest and most intimidating is to break 3 hours in the marathon. I’m working on whittling it down from my 3:19 PR, and while I know the progress isn’t going to dramatically happen overnight, I’m excited to continue to improve — to get stronger, to get faster, and to stay healthy — over the long-term. As my kids get older, I may foray back to ultras — I ran a 50k unknowingly pregnant and consequently put a 50-miler on the backburner — but we’ll see. I’m open to wherever my running takes me. My joy is in the journey.

 

Fill in the blank: my running truth is _________.

My running truth is to simply try. Give yourself the permission and the opportunity to try, to give a damn, and to fail. Don’t sell yourself short. Running can have a transformative effect on your life; dare yourself to let it.

Screenshot 2017-08-28 at 11.37.31 AM.png

Advertisements

My Running Truth: Running Saved My Life

I am Karen. A wife of 34 years and counting, a mother of two grown children, a full
time preschool director and a runner. Never in my life did I think I would say that, I am
a runner!?!

When did you start running and what inspired you?

I found my passion for working with young children over 35 years ago, seeing the
delight in young children as they discover something new never gets old. Three years
ago I found that same passion of running. Discovering new things about myself with
each run. Finding my inner child and embracing the woman I am. I started running in
January of 2015, I still remember that first run like it was yesterday. I had signed up to
run the She is Beautiful for the first time, I had walked it in the past but wanted to
challenge myself to do something new after changing my life in 2014. So I signed up
with a good friend to do the She is Beautiful training with Fleet Feet. Each time I had
walked the race before I had seen more than one sign along the course that inspired me
to want to change.

How has running effected your personal self-esteem, body image, goal setting, as well as other aspects of your life?

For all of my life I had fought my weight. For years I had worked with the children of
women who were runners they would talk about the fun races they had run over the
weekend, I remember one such conversation about them running the San Francisco
Nike 1/2 marathon, listening to them talk and seeing their cool finisher necklace made
me wish I could be like them. But at 300 plus pounds and very out of shape there was no
possible way or so I thought. Some big medical issues started in my life, so it was time to
make some major changes and get healthy. I made the life changing decision to have a
weight loss surgery known as the vertical gastric sleeve, join the gym and work on me. I
spent six months learning about nutrition and working out in the gym before I had my
surgery on April 1, 2014. Using surgery as a tool, changing the way I looked at food and
focusing on exercise helped me to drop over a hundred and thirty pounds. As I became
lighter in my body, and let’s face it aware of what my body is capable of doing, I decided
to try running one day while I was out walking. I couldn’t go far but I could do it! With
each run I started believing in myself and feeling more comfortable in my own body.

IMG_0042

What piece of advice do you have for new runners?

Just take the first step! I was so scared and unsure but if I could do it you can. I went
to the first workout nervous and unsure. I remember running side by side with Amie,
one of the coaches, feeling so out of breath and like I was going to pass out after just a
short distance. But I did it, I ran! Still feeling so unsure of what my body was able to do,I
asked for help from the head coach Katie. We came up with a plan for me. Each week I
began to feel more sure of my abilities to run and aware of what my body was capable of
doing; finding an inner strength that I did not know I had. I ran my first race in March
2015, as I was running I could hear the coaches voices in my head. Reminding me that
this was my race and to believe in my training and myself. Their encouragement and
belief in me helped to carry me across the finish line.

Why do you keep going? What has kept you motivated to continue to reach new goals and get out the door?

Oh the feeling of accomplishment and pure joy of running my first race, I will never
forget it! That is what has kept me coming back to running. Even when life became over
whelming this last year I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Using running in the
forest of Nisene Marks became my salvation. Some days if I am honest I couldn’t get out
the door this past year but I knew I had the tools I needed to get back into my running
routine. So I have been putting one foot in front of the other for the two months and
slowly I have regained my love of running, I am not as fast as I was a year and a half ago
but you know what that’s ok, cause now I am showing up for my life again. I have really
enjoyed following the SIB training plan. Thanks Train with Mary.

What are your favorite running shoes and why?

 

I have tried many different kinds of running shoe in the past three years but have
fallen in love with Hoka One One Clifton 3 . I also enjoy running trails in my Hoka One
One Speedgoats. I look forward to trying the new Clifton 4. It makes me laugh because
before I started running I never know running shoes have names and that it was
important!

Do you have any running buddies that have inspired you along the way?

I feel so lucky that I have such a supportive family, my husband Tom said he would
never run and now he is running right along with me and my children Kayla and Glenn
are my biggest cheerleaders. Kayla has recently become one of the members of my
amazing ladies I run with. Jackie, Charissa, Tina, Kate, Donna and Rose Ann
encourage ,support and inspire me. Knowing that they have my back and are willing to
help me overcome my self doubt, telling me to stop listening to my inner voice that tells
me “ I can’t”, among other not so friendly things that may be swirling around in my
head and they are always willing to jump on board with each new goals I set for myself,
half marathons, trail running and so much more… I love being there to help them reach
the goals they set for themselves. With out them and others along this journey I am not
so sure I would be so excited to go out and run. Having amazing coaches, Katie,
Charissa, Amie and Joy, who helped me to trust in my ability and encouraging me to
reach for new goals. The biggest thing for me is with all the coaches help, I began to
believe in myself, my ability to run, to love the body I have and to believe I am a runner.
Without Melissa and Sara and the wonderful She is Beautiful race I may never have
changed my life so completely.

img_0041.png

What’s on your race calendar this year?

Next up for me is running the She is Beautiful race in Santa Barbara with my
daughter. After that the Rock n Roll 10k in San Jose. I hope to find another half
marathon to run in the spring.

Do you have a big, scary running goal you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Wow, this is hard writing my big scary goal for the next five years but here goes it is to
running at least two destination half marathons hopefully one in Hawaii and the
location to be determined. Becoming a member of Arete running group and scaling
back on work so I have time to reach these goals.

Fill in the blank, “My running truth is _____.”

My running truth is… Running has saved my life! I have become a strong healthy
woman who now believes, embraces and loves herself. Showing up for my life.

IMG_0043

Nourish Yourself: Part 1 with SuperfoodRunner

Lexi started Superfood Runner 2 years ago in June of 2015. At the time, she was running competitively for Amherst College, mostly competing in long distance events (3k, 5k & 10k). I (Beth) coached her throughout high school, so we have always shared a special bond when it comes to running and nutrition, which I always made a priority in my coaching program. When we both discovered we are intolerant to dairy & gluten, we had to essentially reprogram our bodies & make significant dietary changes, which eventually led us to follow a plant focused diet.

She.is.beautiful: What is the most challenging part of eating more plants?

Eating out, especially in mixed groups, can definitely be a challenge if the restaurant is geared more towards more traditional dietary choices. We’ve come to learn that it’s important to be able to adapt and prepare ahead of time when possible, but also to go with the flow when necessary.

Another challenging aspect can be consciously incorporating sufficient plant based protein into your diet. Even more importantly, we have to make an effort to include iron rich foods into our diets more often, especially in periods of high intensity training.

SIB: How has eating this way influenced how you feel in your everyday life? Has it had any influence on your running or fitness?

Beth: It really helped to reduce some of my menopause symptoms. I also feel that I have a lot more energy and a clearer mind. I used to suffer from severe headaches, stomach distress, and skin rashes almost daily, but they immediately began to clear up when I switched to a plant focused diet and haven’t been nearly as bad since.

Lexi: For my entire first year of college, I struggled with severe stomach issues that prevented me from competing to my ability. When I adapted my diet to eliminate gluten and dairy, I immediately noticed significant changes in my daily life & my ability to compete as an runner: more energy, fewer stomach “episodes”, better mental clarity, and more happiness, of course.

SIB: Tell us a bit about your running backgrounds.


The running gene is strong in our family! Beth’s grandfather is in the Athletic Hall of Fame at Miami University in Ohio for running. He was undefeated in Cross Country during his collegiate years, and at one point, he was ranked in the top 7 in the nation for the 2 Mile. Her father was All State multiple times in High School and qualified to nationals while competing collegiality. Beth’s grandfather and her uncle were the first father-son duo named to the Coaching Hall of Fame in Ohio, and her uncle still coaches. He coached current running phenom, Emily Infeld, when she was in high school.

Beth: Back in high school, I was actually the first woman to compete in cross country at my high school. I started the women’s team by convincing a bunch of my friends to join, and went on to qualify for State Finals the first and second years I ran. After high school, I ran for a year in college at Miami University of Ohio, but after 2 stress fractures in the same foot, I changed gears a bit and took up long distance cycling/racing instead. In 2009, I took over as the head women’s cross country coach at Lexi’s high school. In two years, we went from last in our region to first in our region, sending the whole team to State Finals for the first time in many years. I stayed there for 5 years, and then moved on to my son’s all boys Catholic School as their first ever female assistant coach for cross country and track. Our team won back to back State Titles in Track, and the 4 x 800m relay team was All State, setting the school record in the process. Lexi’s brother, Bryce, who ran for the team is now competing for Ashland University in Ohio.

Lexi: My running career technically started in 3rd grade, when I beat out all of the boys in our school mile competition while wearing a dress (true story). Fast forward a few years; basketball was my primary sport (I’m 5’10”), but after a successful Freshman track season, I decided to fully commit to running. 3 years and one All-State title later, I headed to Amherst College in MA, where I competed mostly in long distance events (3k, 5k, 10k). It was certainly a tumultuous four years (far too many injuries), but I was still lucky enough to have the opportunity to qualify for NCAA’s 3 times with my amazing teammates, and was the NESCAC 10k champion in 2015. After a year off from running to heal a bone spur, I’m finally ready to start training again!

SIB: As a mother-daughter duo who is passionate about healthy food, how do you think mothers can lead daughters to live a healthy life without being too strict or critical about health?

Beth: I think it is important to lead by example, and to not worry so much about food. If you are leading a healthy life in all ways: exercise, eating, mentally, you shouldn’t develop unhealthy relationships with food. It is ok to indulge a little and enjoy life if most of the time you are making the right choices for your body. When we are constantly trying to deprive ourselves of things, we are setting ourselves up for failure and unhappiness and this message gets passed on to others. I don’t always love how everything looks on me, but I also don’t talk about it in front of my daughter. I think a lot of mothers make this mistake of always saying that their thighs are too fat, or their butt is too big, or they ate too much, or they have too many wrinkles. Women judge themselves and each other a lot, and when we do this we are teaching our daughters to do this as well.

Lexi: Growing up in a world of omnipresent social media, where the “norm” is to be thin and beautiful, makes it difficult to avoid succumbing to the pressures of diets, fitness fads, etc. For people my age, I think it’s all the more important to have a strong mother figure in your life that steers you away from all of that online pressure. My mom has always emphasized health and strength over anything else, whether that meant getting enough sleep, or taking more rest days, or even treating myself to a massage every once in a while. It’s important to remind daughters that health and wellness is not about your physical appearance, and it’s certainly much more than dieting and eating the “right” foods.

SIB: What is your favorite plant based dessert and what is your favorite non-plant based dessert?

Our favorite plant based dessert is vegan cheesecake made with cashews. They’re actually pretty easy to make and are easy to customize with different fruits, chocolate, layering, etc. Our friends and family are always shocked to find out they’re eating cheesecake without any dairy!

Our favorite non-plant based dessert is probably anything covered in real caramel! It’s actually easy to make vegan caramel from coconut cream and it’s delicious, but it’s just not the same as the real thing!

SIB: What keeps you motivated to eat more plants and why do you think it’s important?

Beth: My mother, who passed almost 8 years ago, led a very unhealthy life. She had many health issues and many were self-induced from poor dietary and lifestyle choices. She was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes for the last 4 years of her life, and during that time I resolved that I would learn something from the experience. I ate very poorly during this time and my health suffered greatly. It motivates me to want to be as healthy as I can for my children so that they don’t have to live with the choices that I made.

Lexi: Every so often, I go through a period where I eat really unhealthy for a week or so (hello, vacation), and I’m always reminded afterwards why I need to eat more plants! My body simply feels better when I’m consuming more fruits and vegetables, and I’ve been sick enough times to know that I’d rather avoid the foods that disrupt my health. I’m a strong believer that everybody is different- the same thing that works for me may not work for someone else- but I think we can all agree that plants are a vital part of any diet.

SIB: What does living your healthiest life feel like?

Living our healthiest life feels like waking up and getting to do what makes us happy every day, and inspiring others to do the same for themselves. “Healthy” means something different to each person, and its definition changes and morphs over time. To me (Lexi), my healthiest life a year ago meant doing everything in my power to recover from an injury. Today, my healthiest life means doing what I can to reduce my stress, whether that means taking a day off or organizing my schedule. Whatever your current definition of “healthy” is, take time each day to make sure you’re doing what you can to make yourself happier and healthier.

 

Check out Lexi and Beth on Instagram: @superfoodrunner and stay tuned to Part 2 and Part 3 as Lexi and Beth share some great recipes and insight on how to incorporate more plants into your life!

download.jpg

My Running Truth: Part 2 Meet Asmaa

We are constantly inspired by all the women that make up this beautifully strong women’s running community. It’s the common goals and challenges that all women runners face that brings connection and understanding. Runners come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, and more. We believe in learning more about all women’s journeys and finding the way our similarities and differences both bring us together and make us unique.  We are inspired by the women who believe change needs to happen in the sport and who are paving the way to educate and bring awareness to race and stigmas. While we are all learning more about each other every day, we ask you to bring love and support and drop judgment as our next blog series features 3 women who share their running truth. 

Meet Asmaa. She has done She.is.beautiful a few years now and we want to know more about her. Check out her journey below and how her faith has influenced her running.

She.is.beautiful: How did you get into running?

Asmaa: I was never very active growing up due to my asthma. When I graduated from college, I was so out of shape; and I really wanted to find something I could commit to long term to get fit. My sister suggested running. I discovered the Couch to 5k program in 2012, it trains you to run 5k in the span of 8 weeks. Shortly after running my first 5k, I trained for a 10k, and then my first half marathon. I ran a couple half marathons before making the commitment to train for a marathon. And I ran my first marathon in February 2016.

SIB: Where did the best run of your life (so far!) take place?

A: In Egypt, along the Mediterranean Sea right before sunset.

SIB: Favorite post race meal?

A: It’s not necessarily a meal but I always grab a Protein Berry Smoothie from Jamba Juice on my walk home after a run.

SIB: What is something your are scared to do, but really want to do?

A: I ran the Los Angeles Marathon in February 2016. It was my first full marathon (I’ve completed 5 half’s). Since then, I’ve been itching to start training for another marathon but I’m so terrified to make that commitment again.

SIB: How does your faith influence your running?

A: Patience is a big part of my faith. I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I have in my running journey without lots of it.

SIB: What do you think might prevent other Muslim women from running?

A: I think it’s pretty similar to what might prevent any person to run – fear of not being able to actually do it. I don’t think it’s our hijab or head cover – that really holds women back. It definitely wasn’t a factor for me, although I can see how some women who choose to cover may be scared to run outdoors given the rhetoric in the media towards Muslims.

SIB: Educate us!  What is the significance of being covered, including covering your head?

A: Muslim women wear hijab out of modesty. But hijab is more than just the head covering; it’s the way you dress, the way you talk and the way you treat people. Hijab is a form of worship. Muslim women cover because God prescribed it for us. And while it is a part of our faith, no woman should ever be forced to wear or practice it. Personally, hijab is a big part of my life. It’s a huge reminder and marker of my faith, which I wear proudly on a daily basis. While I choose to wear it, and it helps me feel strong and rooted in who I am and in my beliefs, I’m just a runner who happens to be Muslim. My hijab never hindered me from reaching my fitness goals in any way.

SIB: Has anyone ever commented on how you dress when running?  How could apparel companies better support runners who choose to cover more skin?

A: Thankfully, I’ve only ever gotten positive comments about my appearance. In one instance, someone even honked at me, but it was followed by words of encouragement. I also always run with headphones and good music, so if someone has ever yelled something negative, I haven’t heard it. 🙂

In regards to sports attire, I often find that the clothes are either really short or really tight. As part of my hijab, I choose to wear loose fitting clothing, so I often have the hardest time finding long tops that are enough to run in, and not too revealing. When I do find long sleeve shirts, they’re usually tailored for the winter, so the material is too heavy to run with yearlong and during the summer. I’ve made due with finding some gems at random stores, but I always end up layering so the material isn’t see-through on my skin.

SIB: How has the running industry been inclusive and non-inclusive of Muslim individuals?

A: In the past year, the running industry has made some strides. A few months ago, a Muslim woman in hijab was on the cover of Women’s Running Magazine. And Nike is coming out with a breathable, stretchy headscarf for Muslim women. I’ve also seen an Apple Watch commercial featuring a woman running in hijab. It’s a really great feeling to see Muslim women represented positively – and in normal daily circumstances – in the media.

SIB: What is one or more thing you want people to know about being a Muslim woman in 2017?

A: Growing up, I was very sheltered, and didn’t see being Muslim as anything unusual in the United States. That was until one day, when my mom and I were riding a roller coaster in a theme park. A few boys sitting behind us started pulling at my mother’s hijab and laughing. That moment always stuck with me, and opened my eyes to how different we might be.

In 2015, there was an incident in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that really shook up Muslims in this country. Three Muslims were killed at gunpoint in their home by their neighbor. It was a hate crime. After that shooting, for the first time ever, I didn’t feel safe in this country. It was a horrible feeling to feel like you don’t belong in the country you were born in – and that you consider home.

Wearing your faith on your sleeve is not easy. I work at a small start up, and I always get anxious when I find out we have any visitors at work. I’m never sure how they will perceive me – as a professional in an industry without many women who look like me. But I’m lucky to live in California where people are very understanding of different faiths and diversity for the most part.

I want people to know that Muslim women are not all that different. We have the same
self conscious struggles, same worries and fear, same desire for success ​as any other woman – and any other runner.

SIB: What has running brought into your life?

A: Running has taught me discipline, and it’s helped me focus on what’s important in my life. I really do see it as a form of therapy – I always finish a run feeling so refreshed and grateful.

blog pic

My Running Truth: Part 1. Let’s talk about Race

We are constantly inspired by all the women that make up this beautifully strong women’s running community. It’s the common goals and challenges that all women runners face that brings connection and understanding. We have found inspiration comes from many different facets in this sport. We are equally inspired by the woman who is doing her first 5k, as to the woman who won the race, as to the woman who is using running as a way to discover who she is, as to the young girl who’s reminded how strong she feels in her body when she runs and how THAT is beautiful, as the gnarly grandma who is doing her first marathon. We are also inspired by the women who believe change needs to happen in the sport and who are paving the way to educate and bring awareness to race and stigmas. While we are all learning more about each other every day, we ask you to bring love and support and drop judgment as our next blog series features 3 women who share their running truth. 

Meet Coral, she doesn’t just move us with the incredible amount of stamps she must have on her passport, or that she’s rekindling her relationship with running, but we applaud her for sharing her thoughts on race in this sport.

I’m a Canadian, married to a Brit and we have a three year old son named Otis. Currently we are trying to settle in London, UK. I love to travel and my profession as primary school teacher has allowed me work in Oman, Dubai, South Korea, Turkey, Thailand and soon to be UK. Besides travel, two of my favorite interests are running and writing. It’s been really difficult to do both of these things throughout my life because of struggles I have with perfectionism and my self-confidence. Starting running again and writing about it is my attempt to work through both of these issues so I can live the best life I can, be a strong role model for my son and hopefully inspire others to stop waiting for the right moment to make a positive change in their lives.

When did you first start running and what inspired you to start?

I first started running as a kid. I was a short distance runner (100m and 110m hurdles). Since success came easy to me, I never really had to work at it until I got older. When I realised I had to work at it to get better, I decided that I wasn’t good enough to run anymore so I quit (perfectionism at work here!). It wasn’t until I met a woman when I was in my early 30s that ran because she enjoyed it, regardless of her size or how fast or slow she went that convinced me to try running again. She encouraged me to run for fun and to compete against myself rather than what I thought runners needed to be or look like. I started running longer distances with her and completed my first half marathon. A year and a half later I finished the Krakow Marathon, my first and only marathon – so far. After I had Otis, I fell into what felt like a depression. I couldn’t handle all the changes that came with motherhood and I felt like I couldn’t take care of myself and my son at the same time. To deal with it all I threw myself into being a good mum, neglecting my own needs most of the time. My husband kept suggesting over and over to start running again and take time out for myself, but I felt I couldn’t anymore. That part of my life was over. When we came back from Thailand and started to get settled in London, I finally realised that if I didn’t do anything to help myself, I wouldn’t be truly happy. It started to click that I needed to be happy with myself in order to be the best person I could be for the people around me and I knew that nothing made me feel as good as running did. So I went back to running with the desperate aim to start feeling better about myself again.

Your Instagram name is @RunLessOrdinary can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind this?

@runlessordinary is to encourage myself and anyone who reads my blog (www.runlessordinary.com) to call ourselves runners, regardless of what we look like or how we perform, and not be afraid to make big goals for our running. To run less ordinary is to push ourselves a little more, dream bigger and believe that we can achieve the running life we want for ourselves – now! Any goal we set for ourselves is worth going for, any achievement is worth celebrating. We are runners and our running journeys are all extraordinary.

What are your personal running goals? Are you training for something specific or training to maintain a healthy life?

My personal running goal is to transition to trail running and complete a trail half marathon at the end of July. It’s taken me a while to accept this as a goal for myself because I thought it was too big of a goal and something I wasn’t fit enough to do (read: I didn’t look the part and wasn’t strong enough), but after accepting this is something that I truly wanted and deciding to go for it, I’ve really felt my running change. I push myself so much more and I enjoy running again like I used to before having my son.

You recently moved to London! Has your change of environment effected your running?

I love running in London! Running in Bangkok was really challenging for me because of the heat and too dirty for me on the streets (think tons of rats, yucky smells, loads of rubbish). But running in London convinced me to make it a regular part of my life again. First off, there is a park in every direction from my flat and I also love @parkrunuk where they have free 5km park runs all over UK every Saturday morning. There are so many runners here of various ability, so people just leave you alone and let you just get on with it, unlike the harassment I got in Turkey.  Also being able to join a running group, allows me to run in the evenings and meet other runners like me. Running in London has definitely made me feel more confident and safer to get out and run more often.

Finish the statements below…

I run because …. it makes me a happier person (just ask my husband!).

The perfect run would end with seeing my husband and son cheering me on at the finish line.

Running gives me... time to think and reflect and has given me a part of myself back.

When I am feeling unmotivated to run I give myself permission to just run for 15 minutes and then quit (I rarely stop after 15 min!), is how I get the job done!

In America we are currently faced with a lot of division when it comes to race and gender in both running and life. We want to talk about race, gender, and running. We want to talk about it all because we think it’s important. What are your thoughts on how your race and gender are represented in today’s running culture (in the media, running magazines, running races, etc)?

I’m pretty new to the scene again and I may not have my pulse on it as well as some other runners but what I’ve noticed is that you don’t see a lot of mention of blacks in running unless they are defying odds, winning over and over again, and they are from western countries. They can’t be ignored then. We’ve always heard a lot about Paula Radcliffe, from UK and her world record marathon and not much has been said about Mary Keitany, from Kenya in the media since she smashed the women’s only marathon record a few weeks ago in London. There is definitely a difference between the portrayal of women and men runners in the media too. You hear more about men in my opinion. When it comes to every day runners I have found it really difficult to find other black women and men to follow on Instagram and Twitter. I rarely see pictures of black runners on popular running sites and magazines either. Even though there are Instagram movements doing amazing things to bring light on the fact that we are all runners regardless of size, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen a black body come across my feed. Are runner’s bodies only white?? I follow every black person that I find in running on Instagram and Twitter, most of them automatically follow me too. I don’t think there are many of us and it’s a way to support each other. It’s the same in races too. When you see another black person, you automatically give the look because there are usually not many of us racing either. I’m not sure if more blacks are taking up running or not, we don’t hear about it or see it in the media. Maybe if more black runners were depicted in the media, it could inspire more of us to start running or getting more active though.

Do you have any specific women of color runners that inspire you?

Mary Keitany is definitely one runner that inspires me. I can’t believe what she did in London and at 35 years old! She also holds world records for 10 miles, 20 km and 25 km. She had the world record for the half marathon at one point in her career too. That’s amazing! The sad thing though is that if I hadn’t been watching the London Marathon I may not have even heard of her!

As people look to your for inspiration, what do you want to demonstrate by sharing your story?

I started @runlessordinary because I wanted people to see that they have it in them to defy what the media pushes us to believe a runner is like or looks like. We can all run and we shouldn’t be intimidated to get out there and build the running life we want for ourselves. I share my story because I want beginner runners to know that they can do it too. I also think more experienced runners can be inspired to step outside their comfort zone and do something they’ve always wanted to do but have been afraid to try. My story isn’t perfect, my body isn’t perfect either, but I keep going, through all the ups and downs. I hope that inspires people to do the same.

 

Thank you Coral, for sharing your story. Follow her journey on Instagram @runlessordinary

IMG_2323

IMG_2566 IMG_2404

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑