How Running Has Changed Me, and How It Can Change You, too!

When I started running 5 years ago (oh my goodness, has it been that long already??), I never dreamed how much it would change my life. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Running is not just something I did to get in shape–that definitely had something to do with it–but it was about challenging myself and changing my mindset on life.

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At first, I was intimidated to share my progress & thoughts with anyone but myself. I started a blog and kept track of my Couch to 5K training that way, not thinking that anyone would want to read it–it was just much easier to type my thoughts than to write them in a journal. But somehow I ended up finding other running bloggers and connected with them so much that they have become some of my dearest friends! But, other than friendships, running has changed my life in so many ways. Here’s just a few:

Physical Changes

Contrary to what everyone thinks, running does not immediately make you lose weight. At least it didn’t for me. I found that it takes a good balance of healthy eating, strength training, and consistent running to help you lose weight and maintain it. But, the more you run the more your body starts to change–your thighs & calves get stronger, your stomach starts to flatten out a bit, and your core strengthens as well. I learned to love my core strengthening exercises to help with my breathing & upper body strength–seriously that helps immensely!!


Left: My first half marathon, 2013.
Right: After a training run, February 2017

When you take pictures to compare from race to race, you’ll be surprised at how much your body really changes even when you don’t notice every day! Those pictures will become your motivation to keep going and keep working hard–they definitely do that for me.

 Relationship with Food

I love food. Like…LOVE it. To me, food is love, and I relish the moments I can meet up with friends for a good meal, or when I can cook a delicious dinner for myself or others.


Currently my favorite meal!  Sweet potato hash with chick peas, kale, and eggs on top!

At the start of my running career, I didn’t understand how important food was to my training–more specifically a good, balanced diet. I had a hard time finding a good balance for myself because, like I said, I love food! But, what I’ve realized over the years is that you can still eat your favorite meal (like Mac & Cheese…) as long as you have balanced portion sizes and try to swap out healthier items in your meals. If you need some suggestions on how to fuel your runs, check out this post from Sara!


By the way, in case you are looking for a post-race brunch spot, Matchbox is a great place to try !! These Huevos Rancheros were delicious!

Friendships

I mentioned friendships earlier, and it’s very true. The bonds I have made through running are wonderful!! And what’s even better is that some of these bonds were formed through the internet first–social media is a powerful thing to bring people together who share common interests.


My good friend Christy and I after the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run!

There’s something very unique about running-based friendships. You bond over blisters, shin-splints, chafing, and the nastiness of your sweat (sounds so pleasant, doesn’t it?!). But you also bond over your good deals on running clothes and accessories, your plans to travel to an amazing race that you’ve dreamed of running for a while, your Personal Best moments, and so many other wonderful things that only runners can really relate to! It’s so special to have these friendships, and I love making new ones every year!

Running Community

Much like friendships, the running community in general is one of the most supportive communities I have ever been part of. My dad was a huge part of getting me into running–we still run together in certain races and training runs (which makes me happier than you can imagine!), but he doesn’t like to do a lot of the little races, or travel to do a race. I started to do races on my own, but of course when you get to the race you are not really alone.

If you’re like me, you meet so many people before, during, and after a race. Maybe you’ll never see them again, or maybe you’ll become life-long friends! Either way, connecting with others during races or training runs is one of my FAVORITE things about running–more than the physical changes and more than eating whatever I want. I am notorious for cheering other runners on during the race, especially when I see someone struggling a bit–a few kind words of encouragement go a LONG way when you are in mile 7 or 8 of a long distance race. When someone has done that for me during a race, I always get a boost of energy and I want to pay back the kindness!

It’s just such a special community, and I am so thankful that running has opened the door to so many experiences that I will never forget. I could never give back enough what it has given me, but I hope by this post I could encourage you to embrace the running community in some way that you maybe haven’t already!

If you’re still a new runner, or not a runner at all yet, a really good time to experience the running community is during the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, and the whole weekend!! You can attend the Expo, Volunteer, or find a good spot on the race route to cheer on the runners. It’s amazing what the atmosphere of race weekend is like when you experience it for yourself!! And, I can tell you from experience: the small gestures of clapping & cheering & bell ringing are VERY much appreciated by all the runners 🙂

What are some things that running has given to you in your life?
Are there any tips you would give to new runners & those looking to get more out of their training?

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