Before I can share about my new-found love for running, you first need to understand how much I hated running prior to the summer. And I’m talking with a capital H.

I grew up in a part of the country where the humidity hovered around 100% year-round (and even if it technically didn’t, it sure felt like it did) and I had asthma. I played sports as a kid, but always managed to steer clear of the ones that required too much running (like volleyball & cheerleading). Somehow during my junior year of high school, the soccer coach convinced me to play soccer. I loved it- aside from the running (I ran with an inhaler during practice.). That was the last year I played.

Despite my disdain for running, I’ve always cared about health and fitness. Following high school, memberships at gyms became a normal part of my life. Most days I would head to the elliptical machine followed by some strength training, or I would do something like 30 Day Shred or P90x to break up the monotony (or when I had newborn babies). That’s been my “fitness” life more or less for the last fifteen years or so.

But, every now and then I would run. I would jump on the treadmill (as if I did it regularly) or, occasionally, I would go for a run in my neighborhood. I didn’t do it because I liked running, but because I felt like I was burning a lot of calories. Working out and not sweating felt like a waste of my time.

I haven’t run a race since elementary school (when it was required) nor have I ever been interested in participating in one. I knew people that did, had friends that did, but never considered it. In fact, several years ago when I struggled with my priorities, I made a list called “Things I Do NOT  Do”. Included on this list was “running marathons” right behind joining the PTA and sewing.

So, what changed? Here’s my story: 

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I’ve talked to my doctors about all of this, but it’s definitely unique to me and my body. Just because this is what worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else. It may, but don’t take my word for it. Consult your doctor please. :))

First off, I now live in Santa Clara, CA where we have almost perfect weather year-round and now that I’m a grown up, I no longer have asthma. Now, for the story.

Last March I started having some serious knee pain in both knees. It would come and go, but it was pretty painful. I remember on one of our date nights, Filipe and I went to see the movie, Heaven is for Real. After the movie, I almost fell over because my knees almost gave out on me. Needless to say, it was a rough couple of months. I would go back and forth working out and resting it not knowing what would help/hurt it more.

Finally in May I went to see an orthapedic doctor. Nothing was seriously wrong, so she suggested doing some physical therapy.

Now, about a week before going to the doctor, I got a Jawbone (a bracelet that measures your steps and tracks your sleep). Filipe and I both got them as anniversary presents for each other. Having gone about two months with the knee pain I was feeling physically sluggish. I thought it would be a great motivator to get moving again. While I wasn’t sure about working out too much with the knee pain, at least I could walk.

When the doctor told me nothing was seriously wrong with my knees, it helped me mentally get past the pain. So, I started walking a little more. Filipe would come home from work and I would take one of the kids on a walk- they would ride a bike/scooter and I would walk. Slowly, that walk turning to a jog/walk. Then I discovered that jogging got me more steps faster. And I kept running more and walking less.

Then, I went to my first physical therapy appointment. The knee pain was still there, but it was not as intense and I could easily do the exercises without the pain getting in the way. I told the therapist that I started jogging a little and he said it was fine.

I continued to do some of the exercises at home, but mostly I was walking/running about 3-4 times a week. When my next physical therapy appointment came around, the pain decreased considerably. It seemed weird that it would just disappear in a week, so I kept my appointment. I also wanted to talk with the therapist about this running business.

That second appointment felt like a joke. He checked my knee out and I spent an hour doing knee/leg exercises. The two things that kept going through my mind, At least I’m getting a good workout. But I’m not getting any steps. When I left that day, the therapist told me, “Keep running”.

That was my last appointment.

I kept running and started venturing out past my neighborhood. The first time I went 3 miles (in 50 minutes) felt like a huge accomplishment. Within the week of that last physical therapy appointment, the pain in my knee was completely gone.

When school ended, I had a big decision to make- keep the gym membership or drop it. With all three kids at home going to the gym wasn’t very practical and getting there wasn’t going to be  convenient. So I decided to cancel it and keep running. There was no going back. (For now at least.) The idea that running is free helps.

So, I kept running. Some weeks were better than others, but I was still doing it.

Then, one day I saw a tweet from Crystal Paine AKA @MoneySavingMom for a magazine subscription to Runners World for $5.
That’s what I need! For $5 I could read about runners and (hopefully) learn a little more about running. When I got my first magazine, I was able to run a max of 4 miles. Some of the things that the runners talked about started to make sense- though I still had/have a LONG way to go. Learning a little about nutrition and pace helped me pay attention to my body differently as I ran.

For a non-runner, I felt like I was doing good. Not only was I staying consistent, but more importantly, I was enjoying the run- and enjoying the alone time. With all that is going on with our adoption (during all of this is when our referral came), it helped me refocus in a different way, and it was really good for me.

When I got the August edition of Runners World (“Half-Marathon Special”) I started noticing the races and marathons. So, this is how you find out about these things. I had no clue about races and where/when they were. It was a world I was starting to see into. But, I don’t race, I told myself. So I kept reading. Then, I saw an advertisement for a Disney race, but it was in Disney World (way too far from California), but I thought about how fun that might be not to mention a great excuse for a Disney vaca.

I started thinking about how if I kept up my running, maybe I would eventually race one day.

The next day I went on the runDisney website and saw that there was a Tinkerbell Half Marathon in DisneyLAND in May 2015. I read everything I could about it- even the fact that if you couldn’t do it you could postpone to the following year. Hmm…, maybe this could be something I should try. I was reluctant, but something about it got me pretty excited. This was on Thursday and Friday are the days I run long. The next morning I wanted to push myself a little and see how far I could go in an hour. I ran 5.1 miles in 57 minutes and the best part was a finished feeling like a could have gone another mile.

I think I can do 13.1 in 3hrs 30min by next May.

I talked with Filipe about it and decided to enter the half marathon (I still cannot believe I am paying to run). Not only will it keep me motivated to run, but with all that our family is about to go through with our adoption, May seems to be a perfect time for a mini-vaca to Disneyland! (Homeschool perks) And the fact that the race is on Mother’s Day is just the icing on the cake.

My knees are still pain free, and while I have sore muscles, I’m being careful to rest and be smart about it all. I had a doctor’s appointment (different doctor) a couple of weeks ago and I asked her for advice about training for a half-marathon. I shared with her about the knee problems and how it seems like running has healed my knees. She told me to keep going and reminded me to stretch.

While I have no idea where this road leads, I’m enjoying the ride (or should I say, the run- haha!).

A little inspiration (from Runners World) hangs on my refrigerator. "You can run. You can run. You can run."
A little inspiration (from Runners World) hangs on my refrigerator. “You can run. You can run. You can run.”
Never thought 5.7 miles could feel so good.
Never thought 5.7 miles could feel so good.

Mandy Sig

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