If you’ve followed along here for awhile, you know that running is a pretty central part of my life (you can read about that here). It began as a way to be active in high school, and in college morphed into the ultimate way to shed stress from nursing school, and clear my head.
For most of the years I’ve run, the miles have been solo. As a mother with young children, I wanted my miles to be quiet. I wanted to revel in the bliss of a runner’s high. Talking and running felt like a chore, and I had plenty of those awaiting me at home.
Besides that, other runners felt intimidating to me. Speed was not my strong suit, but it wasn’t until I ran my first half marathon that pace or finishing time even occurred to me. Standing at the start of my first half, an acquaintance, asked me, ‘are you fast?’ I answered that I really didn’t think so…her response was a cool, ‘well, see you later then.’
I was puzzled by the response. Was I supposed to worry about being fast? Did that make me less of a runner? Surely, not. All I really had come to do was conquer 13.1 miles. It was as if I’d been jolted out of my self-created running zen, and thrown into a pool of doubt.
Of course you’re probably thinking, this was no big deal. I should continue to do my own thing, and not worry about time or speed. Except that I am this person that likes to do well, to push myself for improvement. I vowed to work on it.
Real life, had other plans. My initial strive for speediness, took a back seat to a budding photography business, raising children and family. I wanted to be faster, to not scoff and blush when I told people my finish times. As I continued to put in my daily, solo miles, this thought was as steady as my pace.
Not long after, my neighbor started running. Also a mother of boys, she was looking for a way to escape her testosterone filled home. She began with Couch to 5k and quickly took off. At first, due to family schedules, we ran separately, but kept track of our runs through daily texts and Run Keeper. I was thrilled to have someone to talk with about all things running, and being a newbie runner, she was thrilled by running itself.
And, she was fast.
Watching her minute per mile drop each week, along with respectable finishing times, I felt the awakening of that strive again. To be better, maybe even faster. Was it a competitive thing? Maybe. I prefer inspiration and motivation. I wanted to see what I could do. It wasn’t long before I was reading about speed workouts and going to track nights. There, I would meet runners of all abilities. Runners that were kind to slower folks like myself, even encouraging.
As the years have gone by, my running neighbor has become my BRF (best running friend) and our solo runs and texts have turned into Saturday mornings, race trips, and other adventures wrapped up in miles and girl time. We’ve connected with like-minded runners in both trail and road running worlds. I’ve learned to listen to that little voice in my head that tells me I can move a little faster, that I can indeed, do hard things.
My bet, is that if this story sounds familiar (running or otherwise related), you can do those hard things too.
Next week, I’ll run my first 50k (31.1 miles) trail race. I’m simultaneously excited and nervous. There’s no doubt in my mind it will be a day of hard things, but also time well spent with other runners in an encouraging community. Each person striving to be a bit better at the finish, than they were at the start. I’m pretty sure that is the ultimate runner’s high.
These energy bites are affectionately called, Goat Balls, by our local trail running group. They are a favorite, staple feature at races and events. I like to make them and store them in the fridge or freezer.
- 2 cups old fashion oats
- 3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/4 shredded coconut, unsweetened
- Pinch of seas salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup honey (drizzle more if mixture seems too dry to roll into balls)
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
- Add honey and vanilla, stir to combine.
- Scoop a tablespoon amount of mixture into the palm of your hand, and roll into a ball.
- Place in airtight container.
- Store in freezer or refrigerator.
I'm unsure of the original recipe source, as it's been passed around from runner to runner, but there is a similar take of these over on Gimme Some Oven.