A Midsummer Night’s Run 2014

This past weekend I took part in my first ever Midsummer Night’s Run here in Toronto, which also happened to be my first evening run as well. I found out about this race when I attended the GoodLife Fitness Marathon expo back in May and I’ll be honest, I was tempted by the bling. They had some past medals on display at their booth that really caught my eye, so I’m not ashamed to say that I had this race on my mind for a little while before signing up.

I didn’t register right away because I was trying to decide what distance to run. Would I be ready for the 15K? Did I want to run a 15K before even doing a 10K? I thought about these questions for awhile, but finally near the end of the July I decided on the 5K. My half marathon training had gotten a little behind because of my ankle injury, so I didn’t want to push it. I decided I was going to have fun and try out this race that would be totally new to me.

This race is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it’s in the evening, which can either be a good or a bad thing depending on when you like to race. Second, there are 3 distances to choose from – 5, 15, and 30K. Great for fun or if you’re training for longer races later in the season. Lastly, costumes are encouraged. Lots of people were dressed up for this race, which gave it a fun atmosphere (very helpful since this day ended up being grey and rainy). Seriously, do you know what it feels like to get passed by a guy in a Snow White costume? Well, I do now.

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I did it! Now, where’s the food?

Overall my experience with this race was great. Kit pick up was super easy and in a well-known place and since my bf was coming along, pre-paying for a parking spot was a breeze as well. We were able to just pull into the lot and hop on the shuttle to the start line stress free. This is good because I tend to get nerves before a race, so I don’t like to run late or have logistical issues. To be honest, I think the most nerve-wracking part was actually waiting for the race to start. Although it was a shorter distance, I still wanted to make sure I ate proper foods throughout the day and had to make sure I wasn’t feeling fatigued before the race even started. Funny enough, I don’t think I ate enough food during the day because I was super hungry throughout the whole race. Interesting challenge running with an empty, growling stomach!

From what I could tell, this wasn’t a huge race. There were lots of people there, but definitely not as many as I’ve seen at other races. Somehow there still were long line ups at the porta-potties though! Good thing there was a Tim Hortons nearby so the bf could grab a coffee to keep warm and I could use the washroom which had a much shorter line up. Yes, you read that right… he had to warm up. This was a cool, rainy night unfortunately but the rain did end up stopping during the races which was nice. Funny thing was that I came dressed for a rainy run and ended up being overdressed and warm during the race. This is one thing that I consistently do every race – I overdress. I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten this yet. Mental note for the next race… just because I am cold at the start, does not mean I will be cold the whole darn time!

The course for the 5K is flat and fast, no doubt about that. Not much scenery on this course since it’s not long enough to go into any parks and it’s still in an area that is open to the public. It was Saturday evening, so at one point I was dodging around gals all dressed up in club outfits with huge high heels on. I even overheard some people talking about how we were all crazy for being out running. That made me laugh, because in that moment I preferred to be in my running gear working my butt off instead of in uncomfortable dress clothes. Funny how that works!

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I mean, look at that bling!

Even though I was incredibly hungry and overdressed, I paced myself really well for the whole race and ended up achieving my best 5K time ever –> 26:08!! I’m so happy about this result and it feels great to see progress in my running. I placed 60 out of 450 people, which may not seem high, but that’s the highest for me – so awesome! And yes, in the end, the bling did not disappoint (although it would have been nice if they had put the medal on us, but maybe they were protecting them from the rain). The medal is large, heavy, and has a spinning moon on it – super cool! We also received a free stainless steel water bottle at the end, which was a nice touch.

Would I do this race again? Yes! I had a lot of fun and I loved the goodies (technical long sleeved shirt, cool medal, water bottle), so I’d definitely be back. It would be nice to do one of the longer distances though, because I hear they offer pins to returning racers that show how many KMs you’ve ran at this race over the years. A good way to build race loyalty!

A big thank you to the organizers and all the cheerful volunteers for putting on a great event! Thank you for dealing with the cool, rainy evening to watch us crazy runners get out there. It’s definitely appreciated! Also, a big thank you to my bf, he’s been a major supporter and my one man cheer squad throughout this whole journey. :)

Do you have a favourite medal? What race was it from?

It’s baaack…

Well, here I am again. For the second time since I started my half marathon training I am taking a short break due to an ankle injury.

I’m not sure if it was overuse or if I lost proper form during my hill training on Monday, but I have aggravated my old ankle injury and you could say that I am not too happy about it. Sure, I like running to keep myself fit and also for stress relief, but I don’t like to miss runs on my plan. I don’t like missing the training that I need so that I can do well during the half in October. But, deep down, I do know that I need the rest.

(pic credit: unknown)

(pic credit: unknown)

I actually have a 5K race on Saturday (the first in my Summer of Running), that I am mostly doing for fun and I don’t want to miss it. So, a few days rest for my ankle will be good.

I guess I am just puzzled as to how I did this again. It’s hard for me to say that it’s overuse, because I have a rest day in between all of my runs. People I know that run everyday don’t seem to end up with these injuries… so, I’m guessing I lost my form during hill training. It was my second session and was particularly vigorous, so I now know I have to watch myself. Plus, since I already injured my ankle before, I’m sure it’s more susceptible to being aggravated when I am not doing things properly.

So, for these few days during the week, I am taking it easy. Resting my ankle and doing lower impact activities, such as light weights and more yoga. I know I will feel a little bit of cabin fever, but it’s important that I take care of myself so that this doesn’t become a long-term injury (and hopefully not a constantly recurring one!). Plus, the extra yoga won’t hurt one bit! :)

Got a nagging running injury? How do you cope?

Summer of Running

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(pic credit: unknown)

Well, it’s more like the summer-and-fall of running, but you get the idea. Yep, this year I am participating in more races than I have in total since I started running in 2009. Why? I’m not so sure, but I think I’ve got the running bug. Plus, I believe it’s all preparation for my big, crazy goal – my first Half Marathon!

Ever since I ran the GoodLife 5K in May, I’ve had the bug. After that race, I remember thinking about what my next race goal would be and I had originally decided on an 8K in October. I thought that at my pace and endurance level, that was going to be the best I could do this year. Then I don’t know what hit me, but I decided I was going to run 21.1K in October instead. Most of the time I feel good about this goal, other times I freak out and can’t imagine running that far. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions and confidence when it comes to this sport for me. All I can hope is that I’m not alone. And all I can do is my best. I’m aiming for a finish time between 2:15-2:30, which I believe to be reasonable but I also don’t want to put too much pressure on myself for my first Half. I’m training and sticking to a plan as best as I can, and really, that’s all I can do.

So, here’s the plan for the summer of running:

5K on August 16 (really just interested in doing this for fun)

10K on August 23 (going to be my first 10K distance race!)

15K on September 20 (first one for this distance & for charity)

21.1K on October 19 (the big day!)

I think it’s a pretty good line up of races that also coincides with my training relatively well. Keeping in mind my training for the big day on October 19, I probably won’t go super hard for the 15K on September 20 – I want to do well, but I don’t want to stress/strain/injure myself before my bigger goal. I’m aware of this and planning for it, so I won’t have any let downs in regards to time on September 20.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this line up for this summer. Usually I’ve only done one race per season, so this is a big step for me (5 in total from May – Oct)! I’m really challenging myself to go the distance (literally!) this year, which of course comes with some fears but also with excitement. Lots to learn this summer as I train, which I’m hoping will make me an even better runner for next year’s season!

How many races have you signed up for this summer? Any big goals?

5 Reasons Why I Run

I used to hate running. A few years ago, every single second spent running was pure torture. I couldn’t wait till my next walk break when I was doing intervals and I never used to run longer than 30 minutes. For some reason, I never experienced a runner’s high and I just couldn’t understand how people loved it so much. Seriously, I had wondered how people could even run 10K and enjoy it back then.

But, for some unknown reason, I changed.

Now, I quite enjoy throwing on my running gear and getting out the door. I’m excited to plan out my runs (first 10K training run coming up this weekend!) and track my progress with my Nike+ watch. I get pumped up at the thought of getting outside on a nice day to get exercise and fresh air. And yes, I even get excited thinking about races to do. Such a strange feeling for me now, but I’m going to continue to roll with it. (Check in with me after I run a Half to see how I feel ;) )

Recently, I saw some people on Twitter discussing the reasons why they run. Actually, I often get asked by my non-runner friends why the hell I would want to run 21K. I laugh, but then I have to think about it. So, I wanted to put together 5 reasons why I am motivated to run right now. What’s getting my butt out the door? What’s driving me to complete a speed training run when it’s 29C (84F) at 90% humidity? Well… I will tell you.

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5 Reasons Why I Run (right now)

1. Exercise – first and foremost, I started running again for exercise. Being active is important for a healthy lifestyle, so I like to mix it up with yoga, running, and weights/TRX workouts. I started by only running 2 – 3K before my weight training, but then the distances just grew from there. I registered for the GoodLife 5K in May so that I would have a goal and, well, finishing that race prompted me to want to go further. When I’ve lacked effort to get my bag packed and head to the gym, I’ve found it easier to get my shoes on and get out for a run. I love the burn and feeling great after a good run. Building endurance and keeping fit – I love it!

2. Food – yes, I know, food should not be a motivator for exercise, but right now it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going for a run and then eating a whole pizza. I actually eat really clean about 90% of the time, and being active helps me not to feel guilty about the less-clean 10%. That means when I have nachos or wine on the weekend, I don’t feel so bad. Plus, it’s a nice treat and I’m not good at restricting myself. (Of course, the other side of the coin is that the longer I run, the more I want to eat ALL THE FOOD. Working on this balance as I go along)

3. Community – even though I run/train alone, there are times when I still feel like I am part of a community. Mostly online through #runchat and #sweatpink, but it’s still nice to know that others out there are going through the same worries, injuries, achievements, etc. as me. It’s fun to share accomplishments with each other, while also getting a chance to vent about the struggles. Everyone is there for each other, so it’s a nice bonus to this sport. I would like to actually meet some runner friends in person, but I know that will take time. For now, my online community is the best!

4. Accomplishment – yep, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment that comes from every long run distance achieved, race completed, or injury rested through (tough to do!). Whether a PR is achieved or not, it feels great to have done something that people think you are crazy for. Doesn’t matter the distance 5K or 100K, we’re still accomplishing something and it feels good. Plus, that medal at the end of the race can be pretty cool sometimes too. ;)

5. Races – not in the sense that I will win them, because ummm no, I won’t. But, in the sense of the excitement – being there with other runners at holy crap o’clock, freezing before the race starts, and looking forward to that free banana at the end. What a rush! I just get so pumped up at races and I really enjoy the atmosphere. Plus, there’s some pretty cool races out there… like, the Star Wars Half Marathon I registered for – seriously, I can’t even wait! So, even though I am not a morning person, I still get pretty excited about races.

There you have it. These are some of the things motivating me to run right now. Keep in mind that I’ve only raced 5Ks, so I will be updating this again at a later date. Possibly during or after my training for the Half Marathon. I figure as the distances get longer, I will have to re-evaluate or be reminded of why I am running. I know there are ups & downs along the way, like with any sport, so the best thing to do is maintain a positive attitude while keeping in tune with my body. Keeping it fun is important too, because once it feels like work it just won’t get done.

What motivates you to run right now?

 

 

Sunday night… where’s your ice pack?

It’s just a regular Sunday night around the yogi household. Food prep is done, dinner is being cooked, I’m watching Supernatural, and icing my knees.

Fun times, right?

Actually, it is. Of course watching Supernatural is fun, but I’m icing my knees because I ran 9K for the first time today! My longest distance so far as I train for a 15K race in September and a Half Marathon in October. Pretty excited right now. Sure, sore knees aren’t so fun, but I know it’s because my running shoes are at the end of their life and it’s time to switch up to a new pair (which I got this weekend).

Today’s run was good, but it was also hot and humid, which I know I better get used to here in Toronto. Good thing I used the rest of my energy bits sample to get me going this morning. If you haven’t heard of them, energy bits are these little tablets made from 100% Spirulina algae. They have over 40 nutrients, the highest concentration of protein at 64%, and just 1 calorie per tab. A handful of 20-30 tabs will fill you up, meet most of your daily nutritional requirements, and give you steady supply of nourishment for that run you’re about to go on. Seriously, check out all their nutritional benefits by clicking the link here. Sure, the tabs smell a little funny, but these things are all natural and free from sugar, caffeine, preservatives, and gluten. Just the kind of stuff I like! If you’re interested, check out their site for more great info or give them a follow on Twitter – they’re fun to chat with and will answer any questions you have.

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Looking back on the the past 7 days, I think I had a pretty good training week. Did some speed training at the beginning, which went pretty well and also mixed up a shorter run day with a TRX/Kettlebell workout. I can’t really be sure, but I think my Onzie Spin Capri pants (below) helped me go faster… seriously, with those great colours, I was zooming! ;) Also worth mentioning are my Onzie Full Coverage shorts – super comfortable and great for my long run. No chafing!

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Oh yeah, can’t forget… I signed up for my first 10K race this week!! Going to run the Toronto Women’s 10K on August 23 and I am really looking forward to it. So far I’m loving the excitement of building on my endurance, while also planning out great running events. Here’s hoping this energy lasts! I know that running can be mentally and physically challenging and I don’t look forward to those days where it will bring me down, but when I’m feeling good, I am going to enjoy it. It’s good to know that there a great running community out there to help when I need (thank you #Runchat & #SweatPink!!).

Have a great week everyone and happy running!

ps. Don’t forget your yoga. Great balance with running… but, you know that. :)

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Hello July!

I know we’re half way through July already, but I still can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. Which means, less and less time to train for that half marathon I am hoping to do in October. Eek!

I’m not really sure I considered how difficult it might be to train for my first half marathon through a summer in Toronto. Yes, this city is in Canada, so we do get some cold winters, but oh my gosh the summers can be hot and HUMID. This city has sub-tropical summers and the humidity can be high from June – September at least. And if you know me, you know that I don’t like humidity. Sure, I grew up with it living in Halifax, but after living in Calgary for 5 years I learned to love the dry heat. Oh, it’s so nice there… you can walk to the bus stop and not be sweating from everywhere on your body. And, most of the time your hair can look good… in Toronto? Don’t expect to have nice hair all summer. Don’t even bother straightening it. Pfft, waste of time.

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Anyways, the point here is that I find it difficult to run in heat + high humidity. Long run in 30C with 90% humidity? – oh please, I don’t even want to get out of bed!! So for me, this makes training difficult. It’s not that I won’t go out and run, it just means that it might be shorter (or slower) than usual. Is this a bad thing? Not really, but I would like to be somewhat trained for the half when I get to that point.

Speaking of Calgary, I did go spend a nice week there at the beginning of July. Enjoyed myself while going to a friend’s wedding, visiting family and friends, and taking in a little bit of the Stampede. I also went out for a couple of runs and oh boy what a difference! Calgary tends to have cool mornings and nights, unlike Toronto which rarely cools down enough to make for a comfortable sleep in the summer. So, it was quite refreshing to get up in the morning and run before the temperature got hot. I felt exhilarated even. But, I did notice a weird difference for me there… in Toronto when I run my lungs (I have asthma) usually feel fine but my legs get tired and heavy. In Calgary, my legs felt energetic and light but my lungs felt a little heavy. Not sure if that means anything, it was just something unusual I noticed. My legs really felt like I could keep going and going there, but my lungs were saying hell no.

That was a great trip, and by the time I got back I received an email from Fit Approach letting me know that I’d been chosen to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador. Pretty exciting! I love this online community of women who are encouraging each other, providing tips, and sharing their stories all along the way. Sweat Pink Ambassadors are runners, cyclists, triathletes, yogis, swimmers, and more! So many people living and inspiring an active lifestyle – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?! :) Hopefully my story is, or will be, inspiring and I’d love to connect with more Ambassadors and others who are taking on their healthy living journey. You know you can find me by clicking on any of the the social media icons on the sidebar. :)

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Plans for the rest of July? Not sure, but I am trying my best to get on the training track. I’m a little behind in the long run distance, which hopefully doesn’t affect me too much. I guess I will see. Today I did some speed work and while it was difficult, it was also fun. You know what I am not looking forward to? Hill training. Oh boy, look out when I start those…

Have a great week!

Ever been behind on your training? How did you catch up?

June transformation

methumbsup.jpgOh June, you have been an interesting month. Plenty of change, challenges, and surprises.

Sometimes I feel like June is one of those months of transformation. It’s in the middle of the year and it’s the kind of month that can go either way. Good things may happen, or maybe some bad things. But, there’s always some kind of change.

For me, this might be influenced by the fact that my birthday is in June… and that always gives me the opportunity to be reflective (and anxious). Honestly, aging freaks me out a little bit. When I tell people this, they tell me that I am strange. I know, I know. But, ever since I left my 20s, I haven’t been too happy to see those passing birthdays. Part of me doesn’t know why I get so freaked out, the other part knows it’s because I am not where I want to be in life. Or where I expected to be. Oh yes, I know I have a bad case of the “shoulds”. I should own a condo. I should have a high profile job. I should have gone on many vacations already… etc. etc. Something about my birthday and new years eve that brings up all this baggage. Of course, I do my best to let it go and these thoughts usually do pass, but the days around my birthday can be overwhelming.

This year to take my mind off of this silliness, we celebrated my birthday by going to the Lindsey Stirling concert. If you haven’t heard of her, you should really check her out. She calls herself a “hip-hop violinist” and her music is so much fun! She’s very talented and a bit quirky – definitely check out this Game of Thrones based video or my favourite (of course), Star Wars! We had so much fun, it was truly a great night out on the town in Toronto, which we don’t do very often.

Seriously, I can’t believing we are nearing the end of June already. The year has certainly flown by for me, with all of its ups and downs. This month has probably seen the most change – hey, I even surprised myself by registering for the runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon. I’ve really taken on this month to go out of my comfort zone to see what can happen. Maybe that’s what hitting the mid-30s does to a gal… what do you think? ;)

Is there a time of the year that you find particularly transformative? 

 

Goodbye comfort zone, hello Star Wars Half!

I’m going to start this post off by telling you something honest. Here it is… I don’t normally step outside of my comfort zone. I’m an extremely cautious over-thinker. I don’t do many things spontaneously. Also, I deliberate for hours days until whatever I was considering has passed and then I usually feel upset or disappointed about it.

Trips? Courses? Concerts? Networking events? I’ve somehow talked myself out of attending them all.

Of course, I’ve gone to a few events along the way, but I have probably talked myself out of more than I can count. There are times when my reasoning comes from being an introvert, but there have also be financial considerations to hold me back along the way. Seriously, I had a goal to see either San Francisco or Seattle in 2012 and I managed to convince myself that it just wasn’t possible and here I am still hoping to go someday. I won’t even mention how much I’d like to go to Italy!

Well, I found myself in a similar dilemma earlier this week. About two weeks ago I had learned that runDisney released the details for a Star Wars Half Marathon weekend in Disneyland. I can tell you that I freaked out. My nerdiness ran clear as I told everyone about it and that I just couldn’t imagine missing it. I have loved Star Wars my whole life and watched the movies too many times to count. I just had to go.

But then the fear crept up on me. I can’t afford to go… I can’t go with all my friends… I haven’t run a half marathon yet… Well, you get the picture. I basically started to talk myself out of it. I actually tired myself out thinking about all the “reasons” I couldn’t go. But, I also got myself to the point that I would be fine not going and “oh well maybe next year”. Until the morning that registration opened. I really tried to put it out of my mind, but my boyfriend was actually the one to remind me to register. I won’t lie, he basically called me a chicken and said to stop making excuses. He’s seen me talk myself out of a lot of things, but he knew I’d regret this. That’s when I decided… screw it, I’m going to sign up! I’m going to register for this half marathon and I’m finally going to see California. Yeah!

I was a little anxious as I waited for the registration to open… still had those negative thoughts in my head. But, I tried my hardest not to listen. Told myself that I won’t get anywhere or have any awesome experiences if I don’t step out of my comfort zone. But then I almost had another opportunity to back out – I wasn’t fast enough to register for the Rebel Challenge (run a 10K and a half marathon and get 3 amazing medals)(Yes, I know I’m crazy but I’m not the only one!). When I didn’t make it for the Challenge I actually sat staring at my computer trying to tell myself that it wouldn’t be worth it to go for the half marathon only. I know, what was I thinking?! The fear can get loud sometimes. But then I just said screw it and I registered for the half. Boom. Holy crap what have I done? Cue the anxiety. But also the excitement. Wow, I just did something I never would normally do. This is real now and this is good!

It’s now a couple days later and I am happy that I registered for the race. Sure, I’ll have to make some sacrifices and budget a bit more, but I’m finally going to get to see California (and palm trees!). And, I’m going to a pretty awesome event while I am at it. So, I couldn’t be more pleased with myself. Getting out of my comfort zone one small (or maybe this is kind of big) step at a time. It’s time to stop wishing and start doing! Who’s with me? :)

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you do?

Credit: runDisney.com (click photo for link)

Credit: runDisney.com (click photo for link)

RBC Run for the Kids Ambassador

For those of you who haven’t already heard, I am happy to announce that I was chosen to be an Ambassador for the 2014 RBC Run for the Kids here in Toronto!

I’m very excited to take part and promote this event because I feel that the cause is very important. We are all aware of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, so I believe events like this help to break down the barriers little by little. The RBC Run for the Kids supports the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook, which helps families in crisis navigate the complex mental-health care system, so that the youth can get the help that they need.

Last year the event had 4,500 participants who did their part to raise an amazing 1.2 million for youth mental health. How great is that?! So this year, we are looking to make an even bigger impact for this great cause! That’s why I am raising funds and running 15K (my first!), while being an Ambassador spreading the word both online and offline.

The RBC Run for the Kids has 3 distances to suit your running/walking goals – 5K, 15K and 25K. It’s also a family friendly event, so get the gang together and form a team! For more information on the distances, you can click here.

We’d love your support, so if you’re in Toronto you can sign up here or if you’d like to donate to my fundraising page you can contact me for more information directly. Every little bit helps! You can also follow along my journey on Twitter and Instagram as I train for this run (and then my eventual half marathon – fun right?!).

Thanks for your support and I hope to see you out there on September 20, 2014! :D

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First running injury

Well, it was a long week.

A long week waiting for my first running injury to heal. A long week trying not to feel discouraged and embarrassed. A really long week waiting to be able to do my next run.

Last weekend my left ankle wasn’t feeling great. I had some pain on the inside portion, but I mostly ignored it. I actually ignored it enough through 6.25K and then just ended up making the situation worse. So then I need to be put on rest. Rest! No running for a week. Who knew this would drive me crazy?

I was fortunate enough to get some acupuncture to help, while also icing, and resting it. I was frustrated waiting all week, but honestly this probably helped me a lot. I finally got out there yesterday and ran 4K just to ease back into it. Happy to report that I did not experience any ankle pain during the run or even 12 hours later.

Part of me finds it funny that something so minor could really throw off my training. Was I not taking care of myself? Was I increasing my distance too fast? I’m not really sure what brought this injury on, but I do know that it made me feel discouraged. Negative thoughts crawled up into my mind – what did I do wrong? Is running for me? How can I run 21K if I can’t even run 8K without getting injured? It’s amazing what the mind can do to us at times. The fear was really creeping up on me and I had to find a way to let it go. In this situation it was great to have my yoga practice. I still wanted to be active, but I didn’t want to push myself too much and make the ankle injury worse. Yoga was great for this purpose, but also for calming my mind. Focusing my mind on positive, relaxing thoughts instead of the self-deprecating ones. This really made a difference, helping me take my mind off of things and just allowing myself to heal. Sure, I’m back to shorter distances now as I ease back into my running, but I know it’s a process that I have to go through to get stronger physically and mentally. That’s what this running journey is all about isn’t it? There may be pains and tears, but there’s also triumph and joy.

See you out there!

How did your first running injury make you feel? Were you able to stay positive?

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