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If you would have told me seven years ago that I would run anything close to a marathon, I would have called you crazy. In fact, running just a few miles was a big feat for me. Marathon training was not on the radar at all. I was never an athlete when I was younger. I only did cheerleading and just the regular, old high school kind- not the cool, super competitive type of cheer. But I started running when my (now) oldest was just a baby because, well, I needed something to get me out of the house.
Luckily for me, I was able to find a running group that kept me going and accountable. I was slow and consistently the last to finish, but this group of women never looked at me any different or judged me in any way. To them, I was a runner, and that forever changed me and my outlook on fitness and parenting. Marathon training started to cross my mind.
Fast forward to seven years later and I’ve run two marathons, one-half marathon, and a 10k race. I am training for my first sprint triathlon and a Ragnar race. I work out almost every day and I am stronger than I have ever been. I wasn’t always like this, though. I never used to work out. I wasn’t always fit. But looking back, I can see how much marathon training changed me.
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It seems crazy to say that marathon training changed me in any other way than giving me the confidence that I can run farther than most people deem sane. But it did. In fact, it isn’t just marathon training that changed me- it was running in general. I didn’t expect it but it happened.
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5 Ways Marathon Training Changed Me
- It helped me get through my postpartum depression- I suffered from postpartum depression after my first two daughters were born, and postpartum psychosis after my third daughter. All were undocumented and all were left untreated because, despite my education and my knowledge on the subject, I thought I could just “deal.” Part of my symptoms of depression and psychosis was my need to control my routine. Obviously, with young children, this was extremely hard, but luckily I had a support system who recognized that I needed to make sure I got my marathon training done that day. Running not only ensured that I got a break from my babies but it also released those ever-important endorphins I needed to help break the cycle of depression- even if it was only for a little while.
- It started a love of fitness- I was never an athlete. I didn’t play sports when I was younger, and I rarely worked out. I started running with a group with a very strong push from a neighbor of mine and I reluctantly agreed. At first, I hated it. It hurt, I couldn’t breathe, and I was slow. I felt embarrassed. I stopped going after a few months but again, she begged me to come back so I did. And I basically never stopped. I was hit with the running bug, which then moved me on to HIIT training. And then to yoga. And spin and swimming and weight-lifting and cross-fit. Now I don’t work out to get rid of the baby fat or to look a certain way. Now I work out because I love it in the same way other people garden or cook for fun.
- It motivates my daughters- As the mother of three girls, one thing I want them to always know is that they can do anything. They can be strong and fierce. They can run far even if they’ve never done it before. Now my girls will ask to go on a run with me. My oldest wakes up some mornings and “goes for a run” around the block. They have watched me feel the pain of marathon training and work through it, all while doing sweet things to help nurse me back to health like bring an extra cup of ice and dump it into my ice bath… (gee, thanks for your help, kid). Marathon training not only changed me, but it has had an effect on my whole family.
- It gave me time to myself- One thing that marathon training takes is time. Every week you are running a ton of miles. You have to carve out hours in your day not only for your run but also for recovery. Marathon training forced me to take time for myself. I couldn’t bring my kids with me on my 15-, 18-, or 20-mile marathon training run. I had to ask for help with my kids, which I don’t normally do, and force myself to step away from the realities of my life. It gave me much-needed time to myself, which any mother can tell you is important. After all, you can’t pour from an empty glass.
- It allowed me to reflect- During all that alone time you have quite a bit of time to think. One of the biggest takeaways I have from marathon training was being able to reflect on myself- my parenting, my relationship with my husband, my friendships, my work. I never listened to music while I ran, so the stillness of the world around me allowed me to soak in the moments, too. I found myself paying more attention to what was around me- the trees, the air, the old buildings I was passing- and really be present. I learned how to become mindful which was reflected in my parenting and my marriage.
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Looking back over the past seven years of my life, I can easily say that running changed me. The direction of my life would not be nearly the same as it is now if I didn’t continue running. I would have never considered marathon training. My recovery from postpartum depression would have looked a lot different. My parenting style would be different. My health, my marriage, my friendships- they would all be different without running. And I am so grateful for that pushy friend that never stopped asking me to go for a run.
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