Two years ago, if you had told me I’d be able to run four and a half miles at a ten minute pace and then do twenty minutes of weight-training afterward – and that I wouldn’t consider that a big deal – I would have punched you in the face for being an antagonistic asshole.

And yet, that’s what I did yesterday. (Went running, not punched someone in the face.)

I first started to think about exercising again about a year after the birth of my second kid. I’d had a c-section, which made me feel like things were kind of “over” for me in terms of being fit. I was looking at mom-jeans and thinking, “I could pull that off.”

I mean, I couldn’t even do a single crunch.

My first time back in the gym, I did the elliptical for about fifteen minutes (thought I was going to DIE) and then went and slid my chubby self into the inclined ab-bench for some crunches. But I could barely lift my head, much less my entire torso. It wasn’t even that it was painful; it’s just that there was absolutely no muscle to make anything happen. I lay there like a slug, making weird grunting noises. With my fellow gym members watching, I was forced to move to the floor. My first “crunches” were basically just head-raises.

But after a few months of working out fairly consistently, I could feel I was making some progress with my strength and endurance, and I had even lost a couple of pounds. I wanted to motivate myself to keep going, so I signed up for my first 5K.

I was really nervous about running 3.1 miles; at that time, it seemed like an impossibly long distance to run. So I didn’t give myself any time constraints. My only goal was to not walk during the race. My neighbor, an avid runner, trained with me and taught me about pacing, something I hadn’t ever tried to do before, even back in my high school track days.

In those early days of training, I HATED running. I only did it because I wanted to lose weight and be healthier. (And because I couldn’t leave my neighbor hanging at six in the morning.)

Every time I ran, I got to a point where I just wanted it to be OVER. Actually… there would be several points. The first one would be while I was getting dressed: “Oh who fucking cares anyway? My husband doesn’t mind if I’m a little chunky.” But I’d make myself get all the way dressed anyway, thinking I could quit later. During the run, I would get a cramp and think, “WHYYYYYYY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF???” But I would push through until the cramp would finally go away and then I’d be breathing so hard I simply couldn’t imagine running one more step.

I walked a lot.

The thing is… I always felt better after running.

Buying myself an MP3 player made running more fun. Running became a time that I could listen to my dirty rap music without teaching my children to be pimps and hoes.

I started mapping my routes so I could time myself. I competed with myself, trying to beat my previous times.

I ran my first 5K at a pace of 11:35 minutes per mile. I was proud of myself because I had reached my one goal: I didn’t walk.

For me, that first race was a life-changing experience. There was a palpable energy among the gathered runners. It made me cry, actually cry. (Plus that first 5K was on the beach, and hello, the freaking ocean, IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN THE OCEAN.)

But even in races since then, I’ve felt that same energy. It’s as if each individual’s energy is not only contained within them; it radiates out, so that everyone gets to share their energy with everyone else, like an energy-pot-luck. I’m not sure this is something that could be measured scientifically, but ask other runners; they know what I’m talking about.

I ran a couple more 5Ks and kept training. My pace was slowly improving. I started to believe in myself… but I often still felt that feeling, about ten minutes into my run, where I wanted to be like “f*ck it,” and just walk home. Or lie down in the grass and wait for someone to bring a stretcher.

I was reaching goals, but I was forcing myself. Each run began with a psychological battle with myself just to make it past my driveway.

I’m not sure of the precise point at which everything changed for me, or if the change was so gradual it was undetectable.

I just know there are times when I feel like I want to claw my way out of my skin. When I feel so alone and yet surrounded by too many people who are constantly in need of something from me and I’m thinking crazy things like go away, people; can’t you see how terribly lonely I am? There are times when I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. When I don’t even know who I am, or more importantly, why I am.

And running fixes all that.

These days, I feel like I’m addicted to running, as if it were a drug. I get high (a real high, not an I’ve-never-been-high-but-I-think-this-is-what-it-probably-feels-like kind of high). I think about how big the world is and what exactly does forever mean and how is infinity even possible and shouldn’t we do something about the child soldiers in the Sudan? I think of how disgusted I am with the state of everything, how I want to cry for the atrocities in the world (and many times I do cry), but at the same time I’m overwhelmed by all the beauty and kindness and miracles that I’ve had the privilege to witness. I become mesmerized by the feeling of my own powerful lungs swelling and retreating, giving life to the impossibility of me. How is ANY of this even possible?

There is always a point during my runs where I smile uncontrollably. I pump my arms against my sides, keep my head up, and slap my feet against the ground, and though I know I don’t look like a graceful gazelle sprinting down the sidewalk, street, or trail (my favorite), … I feel like one. And I can’t stop myself from smiling. The beat of the music is in my ears and my heart is excited, as if it’s a separate entity apart from me, capable of its own emotions.

Sometimes I imagine someone is chasing me. I fantasize about kicking a dude’s ass if he jumped out at me. How I would say, “Oh, you thought you could attack me because I look like I’m out of breath? Well take that, mutherf*cker.” And then I would elbow him in the face as I sweep his legs out from under him and shove his ass in the canal. (This fantasy always happens by the canal.)

By the time I’m done with my run, I am a changed person. I know there are all sorts of scientific reasons for why I feel better after a good run, but I don’t care what they are.

Don’t get me wrong; I still have moments, usually before the run, when I think, “Why am I doing this? All I want to do is eat a box of macaroni and cheese and take a nap.”

But I know if I can just get my ass out the door and turn on my music, I will get that rush. The bass booms in my ears and I want to FLY. (Okay, so I’m not fast, but you know what I mean.)

I’m sharing this story for those of you who think you “can’t” be a runner (or that you “can’t” do anything for that matter) – remember how in the beginning I couldn’t run for more than a minute and couldn’t do a single crunch? How, at first, I hated running?

On my run yesterday, I got that familiar high, and I thought: Jeez, I am a running junkie.


I am a runner.

Post run: Exhausted and exhilarated.
Post run: Exhausted and exhilarated.



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  1. I so wish i could motivate myself. I feel like i would really like it if i allowed myself to. I’ve dabbled in it…stated the c25k app a couple times. Even contemplated taking it outside but always find an excuse not to.

    • That first year was the hardest… it was my neighbor who kept me going at first with the running, then my other neighbor when we were training for Tough Mudder. It helps to have a “reason” to train.

  2. I’m jealous. I wish I could love it again. I am happy to know that you have come back after the c-section. I’ve had two and (been a year since my last one) and I’m still waiting to ‘come back’. If you ever get the urge to run Broad St (the best 10 miler EVER, I know because I did it and never felt so horrible and wonderful at the same time than when I finished), hit me up – Im right outside of Philly!

  3. You made me cry Kristin. I’m at a point in my life where I am disgusted with myself and just can’t seem to DO anything about it. Also, I’m really tired…they may be a reason I’m crying too. You just really hit a chord.

  4. I cried reading this entire blog! I think you are awesome! I just wish I could get myself motivated to do something, just anything. Being a single mom of two and having two jobs is so hard to find time to do anything that makes me feel good about myself! I am feeling similar to army’s comment. I’m loosing control of my life and I have no outlet nor do I know how to get one! Keep up being you!

    • Okay this is not a running thing, and it’s kind of lame, but I do this sometimes and it is so fun and theraputic: After your kids are asleep, put on your favorite pandora station on your phone (sorry for making an assumption that you have one, obviously you can use whatever) and plug in some headphones so you can BLAST your music until you’re almost killing braincells. Then DANCE YOUR ASS OFF. Last time, it was Tupac’s “Changes” that came on my Pandora acct and I just COULD NOT STOP MYSELF from shakin’ my booty! You can do this, momma. (all of it, not just the dancing) PM me anytime you feel like you just … CAN’T. You are not alone!

  5. I totally get this. I started running about a year and a half ago, and I love it so much. I’d always see people out running and think how great it would be, but I just didn’t ever think I could do it. Like you, I started slow. But this past September, I completed my first half marathon, and at the end I cried both tears of joy and pain. Bonus: it’s great as a reliever of stress that comes with being a mom. Keep up the great work!

    • And don’t you wanna just share it with everyone you meet? I so wish it were a gift that was giveable!

      I haven’t run a 1/2 yet… I think I have a ways to go before I can handle that much pavement. Anything over 7 miles has mostly been on some kind of trail. But I’m going to keep working on strengthening my bones and muscles – I know I’ll get there!

    • Yes, I do! You will get there. I hit a lot of walls before I did it (both physical and mental). You just take it one mile at a time. 😉

  6. I just want to say thank you. I can relate to you in that I go thru similar issues with my son, and now this. I’ve been heavy all my life, but this year something in me changed. I changed my eating habits, started getting more active, etc. And then I did the Color Run. And even tho I walked most of it, I RAN some of it. And I’m going to be signing up for Muderella after the holidays! I never thought in a million years I’d have done a 5k race and actually LIKE it! In any case, I say that all to say thanks. And I’m glad I’m not alone in this.

  7. I really hate exercising – like I’ll start it, and will argue with myself, time myself, whatever because it just is not something I enjoy. At all. My current excuse is that its December in New England. 🙂 Your post gives me hope that you just have to get past that and at some point I will want to do it! I just have to rally myself to commit like you did. That’s the tough part 🙁

    • You totally got the meaning of the post. There is this big ugly wall that you have to scrape and claw to get over, and when you finally get over it, you wonder why in the world you were ever on the other side of it to begin with! =)

  8. I’m a straight shooter. What you can count on from me is the truth. Period.
    I very rarely read your stuff. I read a couple of things early on, and saw you more in the stage of life that my wife and I were with our four kids “a while ago”. They are too long for me, and I the time in front of me is less than the time behind.
    I didn’t read much of this one. I got to the part about ‘I could only do one crunch’ or something along those lines. Just enough to make me know I didn’t want to spend time reading it. Why? Because I knew where it was headed. So instead of reading it…
    I got out and ran 5 miles again this morning after laying out for two days.
    And I wanted to say thanks.

    **cue music “That’s a strange way to tell me you love me… ” 🙂
    you rock. keep it going.

    • Yeah, I really wasn’t sure if you were complimenting me or not until I got to the very VERY end. Haha.

      And btw it was that I couldn’t even do a *single* crunch. Nothing but a grunting slug, mkay?

      Congratulations on your 5-mile run. I consider anything over 4 miles to be in the “awesome” category. And thanks for reading (or scanning???), in spite of clearly not being my “target” audience! 😉

    • So weird. I didn’t see this comment when you first posted it. I will definitely check into this. Thanks!

  9. Pingback: ABANDONING PRETENSE20 Things That Taste Better Than Skinny Feels | ABANDONING PRETENSE

  10. I am not a mover, much less a runner or even a walker. After I stepped firmly into a ditch during deer season in 2010 (Oct 4, dusk..not that I remember it……) and then found out a few months later I had MS, I’ve been achy and sore in knee and ankle parts. Even with what I think are expensive shoes (30 whole dollars!!!). Then, I was whining with a friend who recommended a book. Now, BOOKS I can do. Always. So, I picked up ‘Born to Run’. About half way through this fun read I wondered…’is barefoot helpful? I can’t go barefoot! I’m a person with Diabetes!’ Well, today I ditched my shoes and socks and even in the tiny bit of wandering I’ve done..I can FEEL a difference. I even carefully walked in the yard. For the first time in 30 plus years my feet were freed outside of the bath (I often wear socks to bed..not sexy, but they keep my feet warmer!) and my knee doesn’t ache like usual. Then, I read this post and wondered again…could I actually learn to run? Am in baby steps now, moving is the best way to start, but you know…it doesn’t seem as scary or as roll on the floor laughing my guts out while snorting soda out my nose funny as it did even yesterday. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • I wrote this post last November. After a VERY long hiatus, I’m back. It’s not about aesthetics anymore, though. This is about not losing my shit. One word of caution: GO SLOW. It is VERY tempting to do more than you should, because in the moment, everything feels fine. But the laws of physics still apply. Give your body time to get used to its new routine. A little bit every day is much better than big, painful bursts of activity. At the moment, it’s REALLY hard for me not to jump back into running 5 miles at a time. But I know I can’t do that. Two miles is where I’m at right now. I wish I could do more, but my almost-35-year-old feet and ankles won’t let me! I’m sure that book you’re reading talks about all that. Keep me posted on how things are going with you! xo

      • sometimes finding inspiration in the past is the best place to look~I walked quickly around my yard several times today (it is HOT out there-99 so far). As I said, am in total baby steps. But am excited I’m moving finally. Cracks me up, I feel almost like a toddler…without all that extra butt padding and cute dimples.

  11. Damn, this was beautiful. I just loved it. I ran a 10-miler in April and honestly haven’t been back at it consistently since then. The 10-miler about killed me but I felt proud of myself. This post made me miss running, so I’m going to give it a go again now that the kids are in camp this week. Every time I’m in a race, I cry. EVERY TIME. There is a release and a beauty in all that synchronization and breath and sweat and ZEAL. Loved this.

  12. Loved this!!! I’ve been a runner for many years now… No matter where I’ve been I my life, running has been part of me, part of how I cope, part of what brings me joy… As much as I have changed over the years, my love for running has remained. Your story is inspiring!

  13. Love your story and I can identify with everything you say. I am still working my way up with my longest run being 4 miles. It is time that is just for me to think what I want and listen to what I want with nobody to judge me! Thanks for your story!