“I run so I don’t run away.” That’s always been my explanation for why I run. After all, I started running to help combat postpartum depression. It all started with one mile on a crazy old manual NordicTrack® treadmill. I’m not even sure you could call what I did that first day running. But it started to shine a light into the darkness that was my mental state at that point and slowly but surely I ran my way back to myself.
But that baby is now about to turn 16. I think it’s time to confess that running is no longer just about my mental health. I mean, I do still use running to handle a teen and a tween growing up in a busy urban area. And the traffic? Oy, I totally run to survive the traffic.
But running has become so much more to me in recent years. It’s now the area of my life where I push myself and constantly find new challenges. Nine years ago, when I declared my intention to run my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, I had no idea that I was taking the first step on the road to adventure. (Or the road to crazy, depending on who you ask.) In fact, at that point, I had not even run my first half marathon, so I had no idea if I was even capable of running a marathon. Since then, I’ve embraced any number of challenges. I’ve run 5 more marathons and numerous half marathons. I’ve run three road Ragnars and one trail Ragnar. I’ve run back to back races, hilly races, trail races – all because running has taught me that I can handle so much more than I used to believe.
Running gives me the confidence to try new things. Slowly but surely the confidence I have in my ability to face running challenges has spilled over into the rest of my life. If I can run 7 half marathons in one week or two marathons in the same weekend, I am certainly capable of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a speech. If I can run my first trail Ragnar in ridiculously hot conditions, why should I be intimidated about interviewing for a job that I’m not exactly qualified for? And those races that have not gone well? The ones where I’ve walked more than I’ve run or maybe not even started? Those have taught me that it’s ok to fail and that there’s always Plan B.
At 46, I’m more confident and comfortable with myself than I’ve ever been before in my life. I know I may not reach every goal I set for myself, but I’m confident that I’ll keep striving and finding new ways to challenge myself. I used to run so I didn’t run away, but now I run to be a better, stronger me.
Who is Erika H?
Erika first began running to help combat postpartum depression. What started as a way to find herself quickly became a way of life. Thirty minutes of running a few days a week led to her first half marathon (ZOOMA Annapolis 2008) and then to her first full marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in fall of 2008. She started her blog, MCM Mama Runs, during her marathon training because her husband was tired of hearing about all of her runs. Erika lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with her husband, two sons, a cat, and a leopard gecko. She is currently 35 states through her goal of running a race (and drinking a craft beer) in all 50 states.