Fleet Feet has a mantra that I wholly agree with; “Running Changes Everything”. There are many moments – big and small – where this mantra pops into my head because it could not be more accurate. From how I start my day, to my circles of friends to my career; running has changed my everything.
When I first started running I remember having a goal of 1 mile and while I could do it, it was taxing. I walked 2 blocks of my first 5K with my dad and I was dragging behind in the small race enough to get lost. That was nearly 10 years ago. I ran my 6th marathon last Memorial Day and am signed up for my 7th in January; it’s amazing how running has changed me both physically and mentally! I can’t imagine not running and it’s hard to remember how tough 5 miles used to be when I’m running 14 on a whim nowadays. While it’s easy to see the physical changes – I can run non-stop for 26.2 miles, I beat my half marathon PR by 5 minutes this year and my legs can do squats for days – what I love most is the ways it’s changed me mentally and socially.
I am confident in ways I wasn’t before and I trust I can handle whatever is thrown at me. Once you sign up for a race distance you never thought possible then cross the finish line, you realize you can do anything. I’m not scared of things that would have made me nervous before. True I hate being cold but I have been out on the roads at 6am in 22 degrees and SMILING! If there’s a running event I have absolutely no qualms about showing up solo and striking up a conversation with anyone there. I was so shy growing up and although I’m still a quiet person, it’s not because I’m afraid to speak up.
I’ve made so many good friends from running it’s crazy! I will go out on a Saturday for a run on the lakefront path and run into multiple people I know from running, out there doing the same thing. There’s a whole community that I didn’t know about but now am deeply connected to.
It’s also led to a career change. In 2014 I became a certified personal trainer and running definitely helped me decide this change was the right one for me. I offer one-on-one run coaching and am also a running coach with Chicago Endurance Sports, currently working with the many runners training for the Chicago Marathon this October.
I’ve been a volunteer with Back on My Feet – a nationwide organization helping people experiencing homelessness become empowered through running – since they came to Chicago in 2010 and have witnessed the true meaning of how running changes everything.
Maybe running isn’t your thing. Perhaps it’s yoga, or weight lifting or stand-up paddle boarding; the list of opportunities to change your life through physical activity are vast. Whatever you enjoy, don’t put limits on how it can change your life in more positive ways you thought possible!
Here’s to running (yoga, hiking, rock-climbing, etc.) and how it truly CHANGES EVERYTHING!