Why running? Why do you run? Aren’t there better and less painful ways to stay in shape?
These are just a few of the common questions that I get pretty regularly when I tell people that I am a marathoner. THE ANSWER: …it’s complicated. My journey into long-distance running is exactly that, a JOURNEY.
I began running back in 2011 when I started college. I used it as a way to make friends and stay in shape. Being a competitive equestrian and martial artist in high school, I was pretty concerned with not gaining weight when I went to college and left those activities at home.
I ran a few 5ks and 10ks, but really, I hated running. HATED IT. It was just a necessary evil to stay skinny. When I studied abroad in Italy for 6 months (and ate my way through Europe…I don’t regret a bite. IT. WAS. ALL. DELICIOUS.) I found myself steadily gaining weight. The 40-50 minute runs I would do 2-3 times per week were not cutting it. So during our spring break in Sicily I thought to myself Alright Genevieve. You need to lose the weight. You’re going to run the 2014 Chicago Marathon. This will make the weight come off. And so about an hour later I was signed up to run with a charity (American Brain Tumor Association) and was looking up training plans. Folks…training was absolute hell. I had no idea what I was doing. I got so sick after my first 10 mile run because I had no idea what gels were or when I needed to eat them. That being said, I did feel a sense of accomplishment after each long run. I would think to myself Well hey G! You’ve never run that far before! But still, the process was brutal and I got very little enjoyment out of it. Worse still…I wasn’t losing much weight. Marathon day arrived and I ran the 26.2. I swore I would never do it again.
So since I hated the marathon so much one would think I’d never do it again. WRONG. Somehow I found myself signing up again for the Chicago Marathon in 2015 and 2016. I was chasing something by running. Trying to impress people. Trying to impress myself. Maybe I was searching for happiness? Whatever it was, it made the miles miserable. After Chicago 2016, my life took a turn and I had to reassess my mental, physical and spiritual health. I couldn’t continue running after something that didn’t exist. I felt lost. And so running became a way of putting things back together. To put myself back into a position where I could develop self-love. Each step forward was metaphorically a step that told me I was enough. My weight didn’t matter. My accomplishments didn’t matter. My pace didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I took a step (metaphorically and physically) forward. And so running became a movement of self-love.
And so I signed up for the 2017 Chicago Marathon with this new mindset. And guess what…I LOVED THE MARATHON. Did it go smoothly? NO. Did I feel great the entire time? NO. Did I meet my goal time. NO? Did it matter? NO!!!! It was a marathon in which I finally felt like Yes, Genevieve. You did something amazing. You are powerful and strong! YOU ARE ENOUGH.
So WHY RUNNING? I run because it makes me feel powerful. Because it empowers me to love myself. Because running is a metaphor for life. Just as we have good days and bad days, there are runs that feel great and runs that feel awful. But they are all enough and worthy of praise. Every day you get out the door and put one foot in front of the other–no matter the pace–is a win.
Thanks for reading, friends.