Running Progress Isn't Always Linear

If You're A Runner, Don't Be Discouraged, Sometimes Running Progress Isn't Linear

I've been running for six years and although I was faster when I started, I'm still going strong.

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When I began running as a hobby in 2013, it was for no reason other than start participating in runDisney races and earn some really amazing medals. It wasn't for any awesome reason like weight loss, self-improvement, or specific time goals in mind. I was also always the kid in gym class who hated running the mile, so I figured any effort on my part to become a runner would be impressive. I'm not sure how people wake up one day and decide to become a runner. It's not a fun hobby (at least during), but post-run endorphins are definitely real. Regardless, I've somehow been running off and on for 6 years now.

Despite my calling it out as not a fun hobby, it's extremely rewarding and never takes more than it gives. Running has given me so much and I'd recommend it as a hobby for anyone. We all start from somewhere, but it's also important to know that you shouldn't begin thinking that you're going to improve if you do it often. That's how most things work. We've all heard practice makes perfect, but so many things can happen on your running journey. Runners can get faster or run longer distances with consistent training, but it's never a guarantee.

In my personal experience, I was significantly faster when I first became a runner. I was a newbie, but I was using the Couch25K program, which is for beginners. It is meant to guide you to run a 5k without any walk breaks. All of my personal bests occurred within my first year or two of running. I could easily get discouraged about this and give up the hobby altogether, but I'm still happy. I acknowledge that my weight is now more than it was back in the day, that I've been through injuries, and that I prefer to run with run/walk intervals. All of these things may make me slower, but not any less determined or appreciative that my body can still cover the distance.

I've had my ups and downs, just like many runners. I've had countless friends who had to start from ground zero after time off for surgeries or injury. I think the most important thing for all of us to remember is that we're only racing ourselves and we're winning against our former self as long as we get off the couch. I know how important it is for some runners to focus on a time or pace goal and continually be building on that. My favorite part of running is how subjective success is. Someone's worst finish time in a race ever may be someone else's biggest goal. Someone may think a 10K is the shortest distance while someone else dreams of completing 6 miles. Some of us are crazy and want to do a half marathon in each state. Me. That's my type of crazy I'm talking about.

I continue running despite not having the guarantee of improving on my average mile pace. Nothing is unattainable, so there's no guarantee that my best days can't be surpassed in the future. Some days it feels like my running progress has gone completely backward, but then I remember everything I've gained in 6 years. I've gained more running friends than I can count. I've collected race memories in various states. I've proven to myself time and again how strong I am, even if I think I'm not. I have significantly more race medals than I'm currently able to display in my home. Most importantly, I've gained a level of self-esteem and good health that I couldn't have otherwise. Go for a run. Then go again.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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If You've Ever Ran A Half-Marathon Then You've Probably Had These 18 Thoughts

There's so many thoughts during a half-marathon.

Loui
Loui
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Two weeks ago I ran my first ever half marathon. I've never run a race in my life before and I'm not really a runner so it was an interesting experience. Over the course of my training, I actually learned to enjoy running and I can say that I actually like it now.

This half marathon was really challenging but really rewarding. These are all the things that I was thinking about (there was probably a lot more, too) during those 13.1 miles.

1. "This is really easy but all these people are running way too fast."

2. "This is so much easier than a training run."

3. "Wow I already ran three miles."

4. "I need water."

5. *Casually sings Neon Moon by Brooks and Dunn

6. "I'm getting really hungry. I hope there's muffins at the end."

7. "Dang, this is easy. I feel like I could run for forever."

8. "Okay, so we went six miles so 13 minus six is seven. We have seven miles to go." 

9. "The sun is so hot."

10. "I could use some more water."

11. "Would my group judge me if I walked at mile eight?"

12. "Why am I running again?"

13. "I'm on mile 10 so in 10 minutes I'll be on mile 11. This will totally go by fast."

14. "I'm still on mile 10."

15. "I'm still... on... mile.... 10... now mile 11."

16. "This is the longest run of my life."

17. "Oh great, now my calf is cramping." 

18. *When the run is over* "Man, I feel like I could do another one!"

Loui
Loui

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