When I moved to Montana 5 years ago, I had never stepped foot in a gym in my life. I was at my personal rock bottom, starting over in a new place after my divorce, and I weighed more than I ever had before. A good friend basically said “You’re a mess. We’re going to the gym”. He took me to a yoga class, taught me how to use the elliptical machine and I was hooked. I lost almost 30 pounds in about six months and was hiking and being active in ways I had never imagined, after living in a big city for eight years.
After about a year of working out and using the elliptical machine for cardio, I felt a natural urge to start running. I can’t remember running for “fun” since age 15. Late in 2008, a co-worker mentioned a Thanksgiving Day 5K race and I thought “Hey I can do that” so I trained and I did it and I was very slow, but I finished and I was incredibly proud of myself. Six months later I ran another 5K and finished eight minutes faster!
When I lost my job and was unemployed for three months in early 2010, I was lonely, frustrated, scared, bored, you name it. I also happened to get in the best shape of my life. Without much else to occupy my time I was going to the gym every day, sometimes twice, to keep myself busy and distracted. When my roommate asked if I’d run a 10K I thought “What the hell” even though I had never run more than 4 miles at a time. I did it and my time was reasonable. It was such a huge accomplishment for me because I felt like it was all I had to show for those three months I was unemployed and working out so much! Then I got a boyfriend and soon after, a full time job and there went my daily trips to the gym.
I don’t consider myself a “runner”. I obviously don’t run long distances and my desire to run waxes and wanes at times. As much as I enjoy running, it’s not easy for me. It’s physically difficult and takes every ounce of my effort and concentration. That’s part of what I like about it. I have friends who run 10 miles at a time on the treadmill or run half marathons for fun. I’d love to get there some day, but that’s just not me.
For me, running is a symbol of the transition I’ve made in the past five years. There are still times when I am running alone with beautiful mountains in the foreground and I think to myself “I can’t believe I’m doing this! I can’t believe this is my life!” That’s an amazing feeling and it reminds me of all I’ve accomplished and have to be proud of. Sometimes it's easy to forget that stuff in my hectic everyday life. That’s why I run.