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 Laura from @Readinglady1.

Women’s Running Community (WRC): What Made You Take Up Running?

Laura (L): When I was younger I used to run with my dad who ran. We did fun runs together and ran around the park by my house. When I hit 50 my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, a disease which we lost my grandmother to. It hit me hard. I vowed to reclaim my health and not let this dreadful disease rob me of my memories. In my quest to lose weight and get my health in order I began running again. One year into my new quest, I suffered a torn peroneal tendon and had to have surgery to repair. The recovery was tough and I was unable to run, let along walk correctly for almost a year. When I finally felt able to try I started running again and was able to run 5K, 10K and 15K races. That winter I suffered a femoral stress fracture and was once again sidelined for over 6 months. My family wanted me to stop but I was determined to be able to get back to running. I slowly built back up to being able to run and ran my first Half Marathon with support of my wonderful running team. Then, this winter while hosting Christmas dinner I broke three toes. This dark cloud seems to be trying to get the best of me, but watching my mom suffer pushes me to get back out there. This spring I started my training for the NYC Marathon. It’s been a hard fought battle for me but I am out there. Last Sunday I hit 14 miles on my long run. I finally felt like I might make it to the finish line of the marathon. Alzheimer’s doesn’t discriminate who it hits – young, old, rich, poor, black, white, male, female. It is a dreadful disease that robs you of your memories and leaves you here in a shell of yourself. Your family loses you but still has you and suffers greatly. I hope by taking control of my health, running and eating better I can prevent this from happening to me.

WRC: What Do You Love About Your Body?

L: It has taken me along time to like anything about my body. I am absent from family photos for many years. I am so sorry now that I did that! My body has failed me due to injury several times, but my body has also recovered and healed. Each time I build back up and got back out there I was amazed by the ability of my body to go from broken down to run ready. It seems by body forgives me for not feeding it properly, or caring for it. It seems it is always ready to get out there and do something amazing with me.

WRC: How Has Running Helped You Appreciate Your Body?

L: Running helps me appreciate my body because without it I have nothing. On the dark days when I was laid up with casts, or boots and left to rely on crutches I realized how much I had taken my bodies abilities for granted. A simple thing like walking is an amazing ability. The fact that I can run at all is something I will never take for granted and I plan to take good care of my body to be able to continue this journey. I hope to run well into my older years. I see elder runners out there at races and they so inspire me that this will be possible.

WRC: How Has Running Helped You Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and/or
Generally In Your Life?

L: I’ve connected so much of running to my life. The fact that I have been able to restart this journey so many times has helped strengthen
me emotionally. It inspires and uplifts me when I am able to accomplish something I’ve set as a goal – like running a half marathon and now a marathon. I am an Elementary School Principal and running has helped me become a better leader for my staff and students. Using running principles has helped me uplift those around me and several of my teachers are now running with me. We formed a team and several of us are running the NYC Marathon together. As for my personal life, running has helped get me back on a path to reclaim my health. I write a weekly blog about my growth over time and I truly feel I would have given up and gone back to my bad habits if i didn’t have running to keep me grounded. Yesterday, I was just thinking about this and how I felt like if I had been part of a running team years ago I wouldn’t have lost my way with living a healthy lifestyle.

WRC: What Do You Think About When You’re Running?

L: I think about many things when I run. I think about my mom and how unfair life can be. I write a weekly blog and most of the time on my
long runs I am drafting my blog. When I return home I sit down and type it out. I make many connections between running and life – like how teaching and running are so connected. I find running to be very meditative and have such clarity of thought when I am out there. I’ve actually thought about getting a tape recorder to capture my thoughts for writing and may do so in the near future.

WRC: What Do You Love Most About Running?

L: I love how I feel when I finish a run the most. It is such and empowering and uplifting feeling. Some days when I am out there I feel so strong and feel like just dancing and singing as I go along. Truthfully, I wish every day felt like that but of course they don’t. On the days I struggle out there, I love the fact that I am able to be out there at all. It is such a privilege to be healthy and able to walk or run at all. A privilege I will never take for granted again.

WRC: What’s Your Favorite Part Of Being A Runner?

L: I love the running community. It is a very strong community and people come from all walks of life. I am part of three running clubs and find connecting to others has enriched my life so much. Runners seek out other runners and want nothing more than to chat about running.

WRC: Do You Engage In Other Sports or Activities? If So, What And How Often?

L:like to ride my bicycle during the summer months two times a week. This gives me an option to cross train from running. I also like to do yoga to try to offset injury. I try to fit this in as much as I can, even if it’s just a quick session.

WRC: How Do You Stay Motivated When You Don’t Want To Run?

L: I feel like I am in a race against time and don’t have the luxury to not run. Running is my greatest hope to maintain my memories and not
suffer the fate of my mom and grandmother. This pushes me out of my comfort zone and out to run. If I really struggle to get out one day, I will change my weekly schedule to accommodate the day off, or cross train to change it up.

WRC: Most Memorable Race Or Running Accomplishment?

L: Finishing my first half marathon was my most memorable accomplishment. When I suffered a femoral stress fracture, which came after major ankle repair surgery, I began to think perhaps I was not able to run after all. Finding to courage to start again took awhile. When I ran
the half at Runners World Festival I ran with a huge club Sub30 that I am part of. The support they gave me was immense. One of my sub friends met me at mile 12. She told me she’d be waiting for me there and would run the last mile with me. When I saw her standing there I
started crying. I was in pain and not sure I could go another step. Running the last mile with her encouraging me and crossing the line with me was so uplifting. I so appreciated that support and was super proud that I had been able to train alone for this race and finish it HEALTHY.

WRC: What Is Your Best Tip Or Advice For A Newbie Runner?

L: My best advice is to find a tribe. Relationships and connection to others is your ticket to success. Running is often a solitary activity, but whenever possible find someone to share the journey. When I had no one local, I joined the online club Sub30 and met some wonderful people. Even though I still ran alone, I felt like I had a tribe to talk to about running and they inspired me out on my runs. Sharing my journey at work led to inspiring others to join me at local races. There is power in relationships and connection and it will change your running more than anything else.

WRC: What Is THE Ultimate Quote You Live Your Life By If You Could Only
Choose One (explain)?

L: “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” {Confucius} – I truly believe that as long as you are moving, you are
moving toward your goals. I am a slower runner and it doesn’t matter to me because thankfully, I am running . It doesn’t matter to me that it has taken me 57 years to be able to run in the NY Marathon. I am here.

WRC: Is There Anything Else You’d Like To Tell Us?

L: *The hardest thing is watching somebody you love forget they love you.” This is a quote that sums up Alzheimers. It is a horrible disease that is so painful for the patient and their family. I hope in my lifetime they find a treatment. I hope that running is my best hope. My dad is 85 and he was a runner. His mind is sharp. I hope that my mind will be equally as sharp when I am older.

WRC Staff

WRC Staff

Women’s Running Community (WRC) was created to inspire girls and women to choose health and wellness over our culture’s harmful obsession with having the “perfect” runner’s body type, weight or shape. Our goal is to educate the world that health, beauty, and wellness come in many forms and that no one body type, shape, size, culture or weight is more worthy of respect, love and acceptance than another. We want to challenge the industry leaders and media creators to expand their vision of what a runner or being healthy looks like.
WRC Staff

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