The #WhatARunnerLooksLike Wednesday series features everyday women runners and their real thoughts on running, their accomplishments, struggles and bodies. We created this series as a way to help ordinary women runners tell their extraordinary stories. We have been inspired by the stories of other women runners and received much strength to know that we are not alone in our struggles. Some interviews are silly, some are long, some are short, and some are profound. We hope you enjoy, and if you’re interested in sharing your #WhatARunnerLooksLike story with us or know someone in your running circles that has an inspiring story to share, simply use this online form to submit your story.
This week’s #WhatARunnerLooksLike Wednesday feature is Katy from @seekatyrun.
Women’s Running Community (WRC): What Made You Take Up Running?
Katy (K): I have always been a competitive spirit, although not when it comes torunning. As a child, I was a competitive figure skater and ballet dancer. I loved to dance and moving my body in new and unique ways. When I stopped those sports around high school, I joined my school’s cheerleading team. Part of the training was building up to a 5k. I can still remember vividly those runs on the track in the hot Texas summer heat. That was the impetus that started my running career and ignited my competitive spirit again. I loved building up mileage, even if it was just another lap around the track every day. The running I incorporated into cheerleading was a good base for my first half marathon in high school. Ironically, the half marathon was my first race distance but after that there was no stopping me from running.
WRC: What Do You Love About Your Body?
K: I love my legs! Growing up, I was ashamed that they were so bulky and I was often embarrassed to wear a bikini or showing off my legs. Now, I know how strong they are as they have carried me through half marathons and the associated training.
WRC: How Has Running Helped You Appreciate Your Body?
K: From joining the sports bra squad to loving my legs, running has shown me that my body will never be perfect but it has amazing abilities. It has also appreciated to identify when to take a rest day, which is especially helpful during hard training cycles! It has also made me appreciate the average population that can go in for a pedicure and not feel incredibly self-conscious. Or even runners who never lose toenails? They are like unicorns to me. I find my black and lost toenails battle wounds that I’m proud of!
WRC: How Has Running Helped You Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and/or
Generally In Your Life?
K: Most runners know that the sport is an outlet for a mental space. I suffer from generalized anxiety, and I whole heartedly believe that running has put things into perspective mentally and emotionally. In high times of stress, I become anxious about the smallest parts of my life. But running regularly has given me an outlet not only to clear my head, but to allow my mind to believe in the power of my body. My anxiety can cause me to want to escape from a situation or tell myself that I can’t do something. Running has taught me that I’m stronger than I think I am. For instance, currently I am studying for the MCAT (medical college admission test) and I am constantly stressed about memorizing amino acids or understanding the psychology behind classical conditioning. But after going for a run, I feel so much more confident in the ability to perform mentally because my body has just completed such a feat. I have only recently started to realize how connected mind and body are, and when I am able to harness the positive thinking during my running it expands to every other aspect of my life.
WRC: What Do You Think About When You’re Running?
K: I have always thought about my relationships while running. In high school, I examined the texts from a crush and that motivated me to run faster. Now, running gives me time to examine a myriad of relationships from friends, family, work, love. I recently had a stressful roommate experience, and I would be remiss not to mention that during a lot of my long runs I would think about our relationship and what happened there. Ultimately, running gives me time to digest what is going on around me, and I love it since I’m an introvert at heart.
WRC: What Do You Love Most About Running?
K: While I am an introvert and I love running by myself, one of my favorite things about running is the community and that anyone can do it! I have inspired two of my friends to race their first half marathon this year, and seeing them run their new longest distances is amazing to watch. I love being apart of a community that wants each individual to get stronger to strengthen the community. I truly never have experienced a runner that wants to bring someone else down. Secondly, there is little gear involved in the sport. You don’t have to pay for expensive workout classes, or even buy fancy running shoes or clothes. You just need adequate gear to take to the roads!
WRC: What’s Your Favorite Part Of Being A Runner?
K: As I previously mentioned, I am competitive natured. So my favorite part of running are definitely the races. I love my pre-race routine (brewing french press coffee and drinking it while I drive to the race, eating a banana, my warm up drills). I love taking pictures of my flat runner the night before a race. I LOVE the medals you get (bonus points if they are giving medals for shorter distances like 5k and 10k)! Honestly, I feel like a winner for just finishing a race and my competitive spirit is satisfied. Add in a post-race Michelob ultra and that’s a perfect day for me.
WRC: Do You Engage In Other Sports or Activities? If So, What And How Often?
K: My cross training has been indoor cycling; I try to stick to doing it once a week. If I can’t run for some reason, I might go more often. I love the energy in the room and it is a great activity to do with friends or to jump start my day.
WRC: How Do You Stay Motivated When You Don’t Want To Run?
K: First I have to ask myself why don’t I want to run. Is my body too worn out and just needing a rest day? Because I have recently discovered the magic in taking an additional rest day! If I genuinely don’t have the motivation to get out the door, I have to remind myself of those who don’t have the privilege to be able to run. Working in the health care field, I have seen many people who are immobile or have mobility issues, who have suffered an acute injury and are in rehab trying to gain mobility. I am so thankful for my body and what it can do for me that I want to take advantage of it.
WRC: Most Memorable Race Or Running Accomplishment?
K: I recently won my age group at the last 10k race. This was my first official win at a race, which I was so proud of (along with a new PR for that distance). It was especially important for me because I am training to hit that 2hour mark for the half marathon, and hitting this accomplishment was just one step to getting there. Also, it was super fun having my name called and getting a trophy (see picture below)!
WRC: What Is Your Best Tip Or Advice For A Newbie Runner?
K: Just get out there and start small! You don’t have to run even a mile your first day. The run-walk method has been proven, even at marathon levels, so don’t be ashamed to incorporate that into the beginnings of your routine. And don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone has a different natural gait, and therefore a different comfortable pace, a different pain tolerance, etc. etc. Do what feels good for your body!
WRC: What Is THE Ultimate Quote You Live Your Life By If You Could Only
Choose One (explain)?
K: We run for those women with a long walk ahead. Through my running, I want to empower others and motivate them to make positive changes in their lives and I believe this quote emulates that mindset.