My Thoughts on Getting “Vacation Ready”

Life

**Trigger Warning: Calorie numbers mentioned**

I love going on vacation — but then again, who doesn’t? Whether it’s air travel or a road trip, taking some much-needed days off from work to visit a new destination is always enjoyable.

Well, maybe not entirely enjoyable. I always look forward to vacations, but at the same time, I’m freaking out inside about stepping out of my comfort zone of daily routines, at least as it relates to food and exercise.

I’ve gotten better at this as I’ve progressed through eating disorder recovery, but my recovery certainly hasn’t been linear. It ebbs and flows, with ups and downs and relapses.

In fact, two years ago at this time I was in the midst of a relapse. Something triggered in my brain and I decided to revert back to old habits. I actually went out and bought a scale so I could track my “progress”. I started restricting my intake again, which led to obsessive thinking. It was around this time that I happened to be going on vacation for my birthday, to San Diego.

Now, I’m not sure if it was the vacation itself that triggered the relapse, but no matter the case, they intersected perfectly. I was so excited to visit San Diego for the first time, but I was having an internal meltdown about what I’d be eating and how I’d be exercising.

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I loved exploring the Oceanside Pier!

I remember on my birthday that I only got about 8,000 steps (per my Fitbit) because we spent most of the day at the beach and then went to the airport to pick up my sister and went to dinner in Little Italy. My low step count (compared to my usual at the time 15,000 steps per day) freaked me out, as did my birthday dessert. My parents drove out of the way to stop at Whole Foods so I could get a vegan cupcake, which they didn’t have, so I ended up with a vegan cake slice. Unfortunately, the bakery area displayed calories, so I knew exactly how many were in my cake (I think it was about 800).

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My 25th birthday dinner at Civico 1845 in Little Italy. Delicious but with a side of disordered thoughts. 

I remember only ordering appetizers at the restaurant (a really cool Italian place with some amazing vegan dishes) so I could “save room” for the dessert. I didn’t think I deserved all that food since I didn’t really exercise that day. Again, this was my birthday, a day I should have been enjoying with my family instead of worried about calorie and step counts.

The rest of the vacation, I was also concerned about food and exercise, so I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I should have (though I still had a great time, and did enjoy some delicious vegan food).

I’m going back to San Diego this year for my birthday (in less than 2 weeks!) and I could very easily let the ED voice take control again. But I’m fighting hard to keep that from happening.

So many bloggers/Instagrammers talk about getting “vacation ready”. And they don’t mean planning their packing list. They mean getting their body in perfect shape, whatever that means. So basically, they restrict themselves in one way or another, and workout harder than normal, in the weeks leading up to a trip. Maybe some of them do it without disordered intentions, but I call bullshit on that in many cases.

I know for me, getting “vacation ready” leads to a slippery slope of disordered thoughts and actions that quickly spin out of control. If I restrict myself in the weeks before my vacation, I won’t be able to just turn it off and enjoy myself on vacation. Because that voice, those actions have already taken hold of my brain. Two years ago, I bet I thought I could just go back to ED habits and then feel fine eating normally on vacation, but that didn’t happen. It took me months to get back on track.

Of course, there’s part of me that wants to look a certain way for vacation, especially since I’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach. I don’t want to look back at photos and cringe because I don’t like what I see. But going back to disordered habits isn’t the way to fix that. I have to change my mindset, to think positively and not be so harsh on myself. I want to enjoy the hell out of my vacation, not waste it counting calories and picking apart my body.

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I want to have fun at the beach and not be preoccupied with how my body looks. I also wish my sister could come this time 😦

So yes, I still plan to eat fairly healthy, and to fit in exercise (because a workout always sets a good tone for my day, and helps reduce my anxiety) — maybe even some runs along the beach! But I don’t plan to restrict myself over the next week and a half so I can be “vacation ready”. Instead, I’ll be working on my mindset to make sure it’s ready for my trip.

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Ready for more beach sunsets and fewer ED thoughts!

What are your thoughts on getting “vacation ready”? 

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Hot Tips for Hot Weather Running

Life

Summer. Is. Here! Okay, okay not officially until June 21 but according to pop culture, Memorial Day was the unofficial start of summer and by meteorological standards, summer started on June 1. So it basically is summer, or at least feels like it!

This spring was weird AF for most of the country. In Arizona, we should have gotten a lot more 90 and 100 degree days than we did, especially in May. I’m blaming El Niño for our cooler than normal temps, that seem like everyone but me was excited about. Um, I live in AZ because I like the heat, so bring it on!

Fortunately, as soon as June hit, a switch flipped and we are now in the triple digits every day. I love this time of year, when it’s finally hot but still dry before monsoon starts and brings the humidity and rain and dust storms.

The sudden weather change can be tough to deal with as someone who exercises outside, though. I got through the spring without needing to bring water with me on runs and now, it’s necessary to avoid heat stroke.

I like to look at summer the way runners in cooler climates (aka most of the rest of the country) look at winter — a season to build endurance for the rest of the year. Running in triple digit heat isn’t easy, and isn’t always enjoyable, but I do it to get stronger for the late fall and winter and early spring.

I honestly am really used to running in the heat. I only started running 5 years ago, when I first moved to Tulsa in April 2014. It was starting to warm up and pretty soon, I found myself running in oppressive humidity and yes, even some triple digit temps. That first summer of running, I was doing it mostly in the midday (not recommended) because of my crazy work schedule, but I got it done.

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Running in Tulsa’s humidity = lots of sweat!

When I moved to Tucson in January 2016, I psyched myself up for another summer of hot weather running. Unlike in Tulsa, where I ran without water (not smart), I knew I needed to bring agua with me to survive scorching summer runs. So I invested in a Camelbak before the weather started to really heat up, and I was so glad I did.

Phoenix actually tends to run about 5 degrees warmer than Tucson, so I’ve gotten even more acclimated to hot weather running. Again, it’s not always easy but it’s totally worth it to build endurance (and avoid the dreadmill, no matter how much cooler it is inside, I HATE treadmill running). However, there are ways to do hot weather running smartly, and I’m here to share my tips after 5 (going on 6) summers of running.

1) Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!

I can’t stress enough how important this is! Like I said, I used to be stupid and run without water on hot and humid days. No more, at least not if I’m running between 8 am and 6 pm.

I bring my Camelbak with me on any runs during the middle of the day that are near or over 100 degrees, and I also make sure to hydrate well before and after I run. Sometimes, I also toss in a Nuun tablet if it’s a particularly hot day or I plan on running more than 3 miles to make sure I can replenish my electrolytes.

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Camelbaks are essential for summer runs in AZ.

If you don’t like the feel of a Camelbak or hydration vest (I have had to get used to it again since I broke it out for runs the past two weeks), there are handheld water bottles you can try instead, or plan your route around drinking fountains. You could even try stashing water bottles around your usual running path to ensure you’ll have enough to drink throughout the run.

2) Don’t forget the fuel.

Since I’ve never run further than 8 miles, I’ve never used gels or any other fuel while running. I don’t think it’s necessary for most runs under 10 miles or so. I’m talking about fueling yourself well pre and post run.

Again, I have been stupid in the past about not eating before a run. If I run in the AM, it’s always fasted because I don’t get hungry until the afternoons. However, a few weeks ago on my Instagram I mentioned I had been doing intermittent fasting and not eating anything all day until I got home from my runs, so typically not until 6:30 or 7 pm. It was working for awhile, but I started to get hungry and now that it’s hot, I tend to feel pretty weak if I don’t eat a little something before a run.

I’ve been splitting my runs this week due to schedule issues, so I run in the morning around 7:30 and then head out for round two around 5:30 or 6 pm. I don’t eat before the morning run, but on my drive home from work, I eat a little something like a protein bar so I have a couple hours to digest it before I run again. This has been working really well to keep me from feeling nauseous and faint while running.

3) Dress as minimally as possible.

This is sooooo crucial! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen runners wearing full-length, dark colored leggings when it’s in the 90s or 100s. It makes me hot just seeing that! Summer is definitely the time to break out the shorts and tank tops.

That being said, I still haven’t worked up the confidence to run in just a sports bra and shorts. I like having a little extra coverage from a tank top, but I’m sure wearing a sports bra as a top would keep me even cooler! I do prefer to wear tanks that are geared towards running or working out, because the material is sweat-wicking, which is really important to have on hot days.

Also, try to avoid wearing dark colors. I know it’s not always possible, and I have quite a few dark-colored tops in my closet, but lighter colors do a better job at reflecting sunlight.

Don’t forget to accessorize! Sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim will keep the blazing sun out of your eyes and may help prevent a headache from developing after your run (I know this can happen to me on sunny runs, especially if I don’t drink enough water).

4) Slow it down.

This one hurts to say, coming from an already slow runner. But really, your body will thank you for it.

Many running experts say you should focus on effort, not pace when it comes to hot summer runs. If you try to run at your normal pace, you may find yourself getting tired earlier or even experiencing heat exhaustion from overexerting yourself. Hot and humid weather adds a level of challenge to running, which may force you to slow down or not run as far. This is totally okay and expected!

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Slowing down is worth seeing these summer sunset views!

Always always ALWAYS listen to your body. If it’s telling you to slow down because it’s getting too hot, do that. If you can keep up your normal pace but can’t go quite as far, that’s fine. Running by effort instead of pace will still help you build endurance and you’ll be a stronger runner when fall rolls around.

I never really track my pace that closely, because I don’t have a Garmin or similar watch. I typically just use my Fitbit to loosely watch my pace, so I’m not sure if I’m really running more slowly in the summer, but I do know not to push myself too much when it’s really really hot.

5) Just have fun!

You run because you enjoy it, right? I know that’s why I do it! Summer runs are actually enjoyable to me for the most part because I love hot weather and I like to challenge myself in different ways with running, since I’m not focused on hitting a certain pace or training for a race. Running in triple digit heat is that challenge for me, and I’m ready for it!

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Running before a monsoon storm CAN be fun!

Even if you have to run slower, not as far, not as frequently, whatever because of the heat, try to enjoy each of your runs and look at them as a fun challenge!

 

Any hot tips for hot weather running? What’s your favorite season to run?

Favorite Finds of the Month: April

Beauty, Food

This is the third in a series of posts highlighting my favorite product finds each month. 

Can you believe we’re already more than a third of the way through 2019? Christmas feels like it was forever ago at this point but I still can’t believe how fast this year is flying! I’m not complaining, though, as I have some great things to look forward to this summer (including my golden birthday). Summer is my fav season by far so I can’t wait!

But before we look ahead to the next few months, let’s rewind to April and check out some of the best products I discovered last month!

1) Coco Bakes Gluten Free Sourdough

Bread has been one of my biggest fear foods since my eating disorder but it’s also been one of the foods I enjoy the most. Go figure! I pretty much eat almost entirely gluten free when I’m at home, not because I’m celiac or have been diagnosed with an intolerance, but I just feel better when I avoid wheat (however, I’m down to enjoy gluten when I go out to eat, since I typically only eat out once a week, and sometimes I still seek out GF options if that appeals to me at the time) so it’s hard to find GF bread that’s also vegan and tastes good. I have found a couple brands (Little Northern Bakehouse and O’Dough’s bagels) that are available at Sprouts that are pretty decent, but I was craving real bread, ya know, not just sandwich slices or bagel thins.

Lots of bloggers/Instagrammers I follow raved about Coco Bakes, a small-batch bakery in LA that specializes in GF vegan sourdough. I had had a similar sourdough before (from Bread SRSLY, based in the Bay Area) and wanted to give another, slightly cheaper version a try so I bit the bullet and ordered a loaf.

Since it was coming from LA, it arrived in my mailbox just a few days after it was baked, which means it was nice and fresh when it was delivered. And I gotta say, this bread lives up to the hype! It is perfect for toast (it crisps up nicely in the toaster even after I sliced it and put it in the freezer) and it has a great, chewy texture and that slight sour flavor that I missed from legit bread.

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Honey wants in on the sourdough toast action!

Each loaf costs $20 (plus $7.99 for shipping), which seems expensive for bread, but for bread this good (that’s made in small batches, no less) it’s worth it. I’ve already ordered it twice and I plan to make it at least a monthly purchase.

Also, you should definitely follow Cocobakes on Instagram for serious toast inspo plus the founder of Coco Bakes (Coco Kislinger) is really hilarious and down to earth in her IG Stories!

2) Trader Joe’s Sweet Basil Foaming Hand Soap

I am typically a ride-or-die Bath & Body Works girl when it comes to hand soaps (though I make an exception around the holidays when I stock up on the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day peppermint soap). I haven’t shopped at B&BW for a few months as I’m saving my last Christmas gift card for their summer scents, so when I ran out of hand soap in my bathroom, I decided on a whim to try one of TJ’s soaps.

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Even the bottle is supah cute!

I’ve loved nearly everything I’ve ever bought from TJ’s, including this soap. It smells just like a fresh bunch of basil, and it foams up just as well as the soaps from Bath & Body Works (I prefer foaming hand soaps). Also, it’s cheaper at just $2.99 per bottle, and much more convenient to buy, since I’m at TJ’s almost every week.

3) Kaleidoscope Juice #LoveUp Sport

Hydrate but make it compassionate. That’s basically the gist of Kaleidoscope Juice’s #LoveUp Sport drink. I’ve already professed my love for Kaleidoscope here but within the last month they introduced a totally new kind of sports beverage. Move over, Gatorade, cuz #LoveUp Sport is way better for you (and for the community…more on that in a sec).

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Even dogs love it (JK, Honey doesn’t get to drink this)!

Whereas Gatorade and most sports drinks are made with sugar, sugar and more sugar (and fake colors/flavors), #LoveUp Sport is made with blue majik spirulina powder (giving it its pretty ocean-blue color), monkfruit (a natural zero calorie sweetener), lime juice, Himalayan pink salt and trace minerals to help you replenish your electrolytes after a tough workout.

The flavor of #LoveUp Sport is subtle, but that’s why I love it. But I also love that it supports the #LoveUp Foundation, which supports kids in the foster care system. Now that’s a sports drink I can get behind!

4) Herbaland Calcium & Vegan D3 Gummy Vitamins

Canada is really leading the way when it comes to vegan gummies (since most gummies are made with gelatin and aren’t even vegetarian). First it was SmartSweets which makes some awesome sugar free gummy candies (2 varieties are vegan), now it’s Herbaland coming in clutch with the vitamins.

Most of us probably don’t get all the nutrients we need from our diet, especially vegans. While many people are hung up on the protein thing, there are key vitamins that vegans can struggle to get from food, namely calcium/vitamin D3 and B12. I strive to eat a balanced diet full of fruits and veggies, but I make sure to supplement so I can stay healthy, and that’s where Herbaland gummy vitamins come in.

I am not a fan of the huge pills you have to swallow or even powdery chewable vitamins (yes, I’m basically a 5-year-old) so gummies it is, but it can be hard to find vegan gummy vitamins that aren’t super expensive. Luckily, I came across Herbaland when searching for vitamins on Amazon, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that none of their vitamin bottles cost more than $20, which is about half the cost of most vegan gummies! I ordered the calcium & D3 variety (because I already take B vitamins in the hair gummies I have).

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Taking vitamins is easy when they’re this yummy!

I love that these are gluten free and sugar free, because many vegan vitamins have glucose syrup, which I’m not a fan of. Plus, they taste pretty good and you can’t beat the price ($16) for a month’s supply.

I plan to try more of their vitamins, including the vegan collagen booster and cold brew energy gummies.

5) Trader Joe’s Jalapeño Sauce

Y’all know I like things spicy. So I’m always down to try a new hot sauce, especially if it’s from TJ’s.

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This sauce pairs perfectly with tofu potato tacos (recipe on my Insta!).

This green sauce is different from most hot sauces in that it’s creamy, but it is in fact totally vegan! It reminds me a lot of dairy-free crema I’ve had at many Mexican places, so it works really well drizzled on top of tacos, but I’ve also used it to dress up a vegan poke bowl. It’s just good on anything.

What new products did you try last month? 

If You Run, You’re a Runner (My Running Journey)

Life

“Run wild / I’m on a mission and I won’t stop / No destination but it’s worth a shot / You gotta let me go / You gotta let me go / You gotta let me go” (Thutmose & NoMBe, “Run Wild”)

Running. It’s one of those things that seems to be so polarizing — people either love it or hate it. For years, I fell into the latter camp. Well, not really. I was more ambivalent about it. I grew up taking dance classes from the age of 3 or 4 up until high school, which helped me stay active but it was more for fun. I did love playing outside and going for bike rides but I was never one of those kids who played sports. Except for the two seasons I tried YMCA soccer and realized I have no coordination. And I also took up tennis in my teens, but again, more for fun (I never played for a school team).

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I definitely loved dancing because of the costumes! Throwing it back to ’99 and the era of bangs and pink sequins. 

It wasn’t really until I got to college that I viewed physical activity as something I “had” to do, instead of just to enjoy myself. Mostly this was tied to my eating disorder, so I felt compelled to exercise. Surprisingly, I never went to the gym during undergrad — I mostly did at-home workouts to quell that voice in my head (and would still play tennis for fun when I went home on weekends or breaks).

I started my first job a few months post-graduation, and moved away to Tulsa. This gave me access to a gym right in my apartment complex, and I was determined to use it. And I definitely did, but I happened to discover something I enjoyed even more — running.

During my college days, I followed a lot of healthy living bloggers, many of whom were runners. I always thought wistfully about running, but then told myself it wasn’t in the cards for me. The few times I attempted going for a run, I felt out of breath and slow. It made me really question my fitness level. So I put it on the back burner, until one beautiful spring day in May 2014.

There was a great paved trail just across the street from my apartment complex, that ran along the Arkansas River and next to Turkey Mountain. I had never lived so close to water before, so it was magical to me (even though the river was often fairly low, let’s be honest). When I moved to Tulsa, I alternated going to the gym with walking along this trail for a few miles. But one day, I got the urge to try running. And it was like a switch had flipped on in my brain, and suddenly, I was obsessed (in a good way). I still wasn’t in running shape obviously, but for the first time, I felt like it was something I could do.

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The face of a proud newbie runner. 

It started off slow, with walk-run intervals. I would run as far as I felt I could, walk for a ways and then start running again. A huge breakthrough came in early June, when I ran 5K (3.1 miles, for those not in the know) without stopping…in the rain. I was super proud of myself and motivated to keep going.

 

I invested in some better shoes (I first started running in Converse-style sneaks…bad idea) — buying my first pair of Nikes in November 2014 got me hooked on the brand and I haven’t run in anything else since. I bought some more workout gear, like cute sports bras and tank tops. I downloaded more music to my phone to help pump me up during runs.

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Only in Tulsa can you run by a river AND Christmas trees!

I ran in all kinds of weather — rain, hot/humid summer days, cold/cloudy winter days with snow flurries, when there were literally tornado watches nearby (probably not my smartest move). Because my work schedule was so whack (when I first started running, I was working evenings from 1:30 to 10:30 pm, then switched to early mornings from 4:30 am to 12:30 pm and eventually to overnights from 10 pm to 6 am), I ran at basically any time of the day I could fit it in. Sometimes, it was before work in the mid-morning, sometimes it was after work at 7 am or in the midday heat, sometimes it was in the late afternoon/early evening soon after waking up when I worked overnights. I covered every mile of the trail across from my apartment that spanned from just south of downtown all the way to the suburb of Jenks, and even tried a few other trails that connected to it.

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Running trails > running pavement. 

I even tried trail running at Turkey Mountain, and loved it. It was so cool to be so close to nature and enjoy it in a different way than if I were hiking.

When I moved to Tucson in January 2016, I was thrilled to discover that my new apartment was about a mile from another amazing trail that went along a river (technically the Rillito River is more of a wash and only ever had water in it after it rained). I ran there the first time just a few days after moving in and knew I had found my happy place. Unlike in Tulsa, I was never able to run on every segment of the trail because it was much longer, but it was even more beautiful and close to nature. I saw rattlesnakes and coyotes twice each, some javelinas once and so many lizards and roadrunners. This is where I truly discovered my love of the desert.

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I mean, how can you not love running with the view of saguaros & mountains?

Just like in Tulsa, I ran in all kinds of conditions — during cold winter rains, on days when it was 105 degrees (or hotter), after a monsoon storm, while the sun was setting (my favorite time to go). I also ran trails at Sabino Canyon a few times, which was an incredible experience, being surrounded by saguaros and mountains. It was in Tucson that I began regularly running more than 3 miles at a time. It was where I truly fell in love with running.

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I miss Tucson’s beautiful trails. 

I was definitely sad to leave Tucson behind in January 2018 because I wasn’t sure there were any running paths in the Phoenix area that could compare to those in the dirty T. And TBH, I haven’t found any that rival the Rillito River path. There are some trails that run along the canals here, but I haven’t run them because I don’t live close enough to them and there isn’t parking nearby. I ran once at Papago Park when my family went there to hike, which was amazing, but it’s too far away to be a regular running spot. I also ran once at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert which is much closer and I would definitely like to go back, but it’s not the same as Tucson. I’ve mostly run neighborhood streets since I moved here, including a short trail that runs through my area, which is fine because before this, I had never run in residential areas. It’s definitely different and cool in its own way but I much prefer the trails I was used to in Tulsa and Tucson. I guess I got spoiled living so close to great running paths.

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Sunset runs have my heart. 

Despite this, in the past year I’ve run the most I’ve ever had. When I was unemployed I had so much free time that I could run most days of the week and even now, I run at least 4 to 5 days a week. The longest distance I’ve ever run is 7 miles, which I’ve now done a couple of times, along with some 6 milers and several 5 milers but my sweet spot is 4 miles. Running just comes so much easier to me these days, and I love it. That’s not to say that some days I’m not excited to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. Once I’m out there though, my whole outlook changes and I can often convince myself to run further than I planned on. Having a killer playlist helps (I’m always buying songs on iTunes so I have new stuff to listen to), as do cute workout clothes and shoes.

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7 miles and proud of it!

I ran 110 miles in January, the first time ever running at least 100 miles in a month. I know some people can run 100 miles in one race, or even reach that mileage in a week or two so it doesn’t seem that impressive but for me, it is. It’s taken me nearly 5 years of running to reach this point, but I’m proud of myself for my dedication.

I know I’m nowhere near the fastest runner out there, and my usual weekly mileage is somewhere between 15 and 20 miles, but the fact that I run consistently makes me a runner. I’ve never run a race before (not even a 5K) and honestly don’t really have plans to because I run for myself, not to compete with anyone else. I know I could race just to compete with myself, but I know it would put me in a bad head space and I wouldn’t enjoy running anymore. I don’t need race results or other runners to motivate me (though I do start running faster when I encounter other runners out there, so thank you for that!), I can do it all by myself. I run to clear my head, to get closer to nature, to improve my self-esteem and mood, to feel alive. That to me is more important than any medal.

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I’m a serious runner, yo!

For anyone out there who’s just starting their running journey, and you feel slow, or coming back after an injury and feel weak, or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been running for awhile but you don’t run as fast or as far as the runners you see on Instagram — don’t doubt yourself. If you run, you’re a runner. Whether you can only run 5 miles or even 1 mile, you’re just as much of a runner as any marathoner. And you should be proud of that, because I know I am.

 

 

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Running makes everything better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a runner? If so, how did you get started in the sport?