It is so funny what your children can come up with. And, If you listen and take time to reflect, most often than not, they actually have a point. My 3 turning 30 year old daughter commented after one particular evening run, “Mommy, you are a real runner now!” And I immediately asked, “What makes a real runner? Why is Mommy all of a sudden a real runner?” With her innocent big blue eyes, she smiled coyly as she replied, “…because you go out and get sweaty every day, silly!”
Well , she did have a point and ironically I had been struggling with the idea of being deemed a serious runner. I always was very active and participated in many varsity sports as well as being a competitive dancer. Like many woman, life got very busy when children came. I became more fluffy than fit. I knew that I was neglecting my own wellbeing, but seriously didn’t believe I could find the time to do something about it – I was exhausted. The wakeup call came in January 2012, after my father had quadruple bypass heart surgery as a result of lifestyle choices. I knew that I had to make my health a priority or else face the consequence of heart disease, diabetes or even death.
One fateful night resulted in lofty aspirations which would lead to a journey of a lifetime; a string of texts and facebook messages lead to a phone call with a dear friend from University. Since then (Feb 2012), I have set life changing goals that include becoming a healthy , strong and fit woman. How was I going to achieve this? I was going to eat healthy and commit to 3 runs a week along with 2 dance/1 elliptical sessions. The culminating task was to run Disney’s Princess Half Marathon in exactly 12 months. To keep me on course and stay accountable, I would check in via bbm daily with my sole mate as we live 1½ hours away from each other. I would enter races – REAL RACES. At first, my goal was to simply cross the finish line. Surprised at how quickly I achieved that, I soon set more challenging goals that involved speed, endurance and distance. After all, I realized that I was a runner all along – I ran a business, a classroom, and my busy home life. I could and would run.
At this point I think it is vital that I admit, at first, running at Disney became all about the costume. Does that make me any less of a REAL runner? I don’t think so. I absolutely adore this new world of funky arm sleeves, sparkle skirts and compression socks – pink please! Spandex can be very intimidating for a new runner! Today, there are so many options available for all body types and sizes to feel comfortable and confident while running. After all, the message I want my daughters to learn is that I am not running to become skinny – I am running to be a healthier and more balanced me! So, if you see a tutu adorned woman running at the “I just put the kids to bed time” – that just might be me racing to the Castle!
So, why was I still struggling with the concept of being a REAL runner? Then I realized that I may have let this Princess thing go to my head; I was competing with this unattainable fairy tale image of a runner. Along with the sleek lean spandex adorned look, I always believed that a REAL runner was able to do just that – RUN without stopping for a predetermined distance. I would beat myself up after running 3km, 5km or even 10km just because I took walk breaks instead of celebrating the fact that I just indeed achieved a goal that seemed impossible only months earlier. Then, I stumbled upon a book that would change my outlook on running forever: Jeff Galloway, Disney’s own running trainer. His walk/run approach has had a tremendous impact on my success and self confidence. I was able to complete my first 10 km race in under 1 hour 20 minutes. Most importantly, I have come to love running and sincerely enjoy pounding the pavement.
So am I a REAL runner? A fellow blogger commented, “The serious runner embraces the struggle; accepts pain as part of the deal; and knows the real achievement is the training, not the race itself.” So I have come to this conclusion. Your race pace, ability to walk/run, distance nor your body shape defines your seriousness as a runner. A REAL runner is committed to a training schedule that will achieve a set goal albeit a 5km or a 42 km. A REAL runner strives to push and test his/her own limits – whatever they are. A REAL runner can be adorned in skimpy spandex OR a flashy and fabulous running skirt with matching arm sleeves. I AM A REAL RUNNER and the proof , as my daughter put it, is in my sparkle at the end of every run! After all, a Princess doesn’t sweat; she SPARKLES!