My running narrative dates back to my youth. I remember starting school in September when I was in Grade 8; I was planning to run every morning before school. I ran that 1st morning of the school year around the block by my house. I ran a couple more times. Than the alarm sounding and waking up got too hard. Like most plans built on a foundation of 100%, all or nothing commitments – that never panned out.
Running was also a key part of my training for rugby in high school and my early twenties – though I used to despise it. We practiced down by Quidi Vidi lake, and I would dread the 3 km run like a trip to the dentist. It was hard. I never really built up my fitness to make it enjoyable.
The summer of 2006 was when that changed. My fitness was the best it had ever been, most of which came from using a bike to commute around the hilly capital, St. John’s. That summer I rode my bike to work, which was working at a kid’s camp where I was on my feet all day. After work, I rode my bike to rugby practice, which started with a run around Quidi Vidi lake. Then I practiced for 2 hours. Then I rode home. I dropped 50 pounds from the Spring of 2006 to the Fall of 2006. I was in the best shape of my life. Sadly, I lost a lot of that fitness when I returned to university that fall. I spent some time at the Field House running the track and trying to learn how to weight train, but it wasn’t a regular and habitual practice.
Regular, habitual, movement and creating a lifestyle that is steeped in activeness is what is most important.
I have lived in Shoal Harbour since 2008, and while I feel that I have always been someone who was active, the regularity was lacking. The active lifestyle was lacking. I ran here and there. I biked here and there, but the fitness came in spurts, rather than making a habitual part of my days.
I cross country skied a lot my first winter living here – and the people I met inspired me to become a healthier and more active me. I wanted to look like the friends I met skiing when I was retired. The road to a healthier me began.
I really believe that my running narrative shifted in 2010 when I set my sights on running the Tely 10 for the first time. It gave me a goal to focus on, a training schedule to guide me, and a way to measure my progress. I will never forget the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line for the 1st time. It was probably one of my favorite moments in my sports history, and I still get goose bumps every race I compete in when I am coming up to the finish line.
I love running because every time I run, be it in a race or out for a Sunday morning long run, I am so proud of myself that I am able to start and finish each run and feel healthy and well.
Running is really a piece of the puzzle in my active lifestyle. I run because I like it. I like to train for races because it gives running a purpose and a goal to focus on, which I find helps me stay committed to it. I also like challenges, which I why I took on the Cape 2 Cabot race last fall because I knew it would be harder than the Tely 10. My next goal in running is a ½ marathon, which will be a first for me. Challenges keep running exciting.
My two passions are cross country skiing and cycling – I love those. Running helps condition me so that I can perform better in those sports. I also love running highs, which I think are exclusive to running. I don’t get that same running high when I am skiing and cycling – those highs are different.
The running high I experience is best described as ascending a very high mountain, in the fog, and when you reach the top you break into an infinite, cloudless sky. When I get that running high my mind empties and resets; it is one amazing feeling.
For those reading, I would offer these lessons that have helped me embrace running, and a more active lifestyle:
- Don’t make 100% commitments – you won’t succeed 100% of the time. Set a reasonable schedule and be prepared to get it back on track when it gets off track.
- Record your activities – it keeps you honest. I like to use Strava. I was shocked recently when I realized I was only running 1 or 2 a week because my cycling was taking more time. I thought I had been running more frequently.
- Find a running partner – I would not the healthy person I am today if it wasn’t for two very special friends who pushed me out the door on some less than desirable mornings.
- The weather out there is NEVER as bad as it looks from the inside. Dress for it and get out in it. You can’t be a fair weather active person in NL.
- Make time – today’s lives are busier than ever. You won’t likely FIND time to be active, but you should MAKE time to be active.
- I weigh myself once a week, first thing in the morning, on Mondays. I am not a obsessed with scales or weight, but I have lost enough weight that I know I am healthier for it, and that weekly weigh in helps me make healthier lifestyle decisions.
- Have FUN while being active. Being active is a great hobby and it is inexpensive.
- Movement is important. I think my fitness really improved because of MORE regular movement and making it habitual. So don’t get in SPURTS of activity, make it more regular and habitual.
- SNEAKERS – get fitted for a running sneaker at the Running Room. It helps. I think I hated running in my youth too because I never had a well suited running shoe. I wear Asics, and stick with the same sneaker every year. Currently I wear the Asics GT-1000 (4th edition). I don’t buy at the Running Room all the time, because I know what I sneaker I like, I can look for the best price online. I also buy locally when I can. Mercer’s has a wide selection of runners for men and women.
- On those days that the RUN seems impossible – rain is coming down, it’s cold, you don’t feel up to it, your friend backed out, the wind is howling, work was long and tiring, or whatever else is making you decide not to get out there and RUN – don’t listen. Go Run. Those runs have been my most important ones. They are the runs I think of when I am at miles 13-15 of the Tely. They are the runs that make you. They are the RUNS you DO NOT want to miss out on. Go Run.