How Runnnig Has Changed my Life

As a child growing up in small town Georgia I have spent most of my life feeling insecure and not good enough for anything I’ve ever tried. I developed an awful complex at an early age after my accident because I was different from everyone. It was until I began running that I learned so much about other people and about myself as well. I have compiled a list of ways running has changed my life for the good…

1. I have fallen in love with myself again! For me most of my life I’ve spent demanding perfection for myself and of course falling short and feeling inadequate. In my opinion in today’s world people think you aren’t supposed to love yourself and after a failed marriage and having to move back home with my folks I really felt this. Running through these different times in my life provided meditation for me. I had to think of what really made me, and my running redefined me. Those runs I did alone after brutal fights I would have when I was married or the times I ran to clear my head from all the bills I had stacked up wondering just how I was going to get by, was therapy. It helped me accept the fact I was imperfect and things were not always going to go the way I planned and it was ok. Most of all I learned to love yourself first and everything else falls into line…

2. Running helped me let go. All my life I have been THE worrier! I worried about anything or everything until now. Now I practice a sense of everything will be alright in the end and if not its not the end. It is a horrible way to live your life when its full of worry believe me when I say that because I know first hand!

3. I learned to eliminate self criticism and laugh at myself more often. I like most people have a ton of flaws, and I always have had that little voice in my mind telling me no you can’t or you look terrible. I learned to accept the words “I CAN” and I wake up every day and say this hard work is paying off for you Steph and this is gonna happen. I no longer criticize myself when I do not win races or when I do not hit my goal times in training. I laugh and say I will try again tomorrow…

4. I have learned to be kind and positive through most all circumstances. I was raised to always be nice and the bigger person with issues. Although I haven’t always practiced this strategy, I have learned to let many things roll off my shoulders that the old me would never have done. Since I have been doing my running networking I do experience the regular people that try to break my spirit. I handle these situations now days with a smile and a positive manner, because I know I deserve this to happen for me and I am the one who has done all this hard work. I refuse to let anyone rain on my parade anymore so I will not let petty simple minded people bother me or break my focus. I’ve learned that its more their own issues and not mine…

5. My running has helped me grow spiritually in so many ways. I can remember in my early running years always talking to my running coach of this. Those long runs by myself were so peaceful and nurturing to my mind. I prayed, meditated and could focus on my day. There would be mornings my running coach and I would pray together even. He always referred to his running as his church. Running by myself while I was facing some hard times in my life gave me the courage to rely on my faith and today its unbreakable…

6. I learned to express gratitude with everyone even myself. This is something I was raised to do, always thank everyone for their help. I had to really work on the gratitude among myself, but now I cultivate an appreciation for my strengths and the gifts that I was blessed with. After I shared my tragic experiences of my car accident with the public I have found expressing gratitude toward myself isn’t as hard. I get messages from people almost daily of their struggles and how they overcame their hardships, and some are Ironmen, some are marathon runners, ultra marathon runners and even cancer patients. But all of them are athletes like myself who have defied the odds! When I hear from athletes like this it gives me more passion for this sport as well as respect, and I am grateful I can be an inspiration for someone.

7. Running has lead me to my dreams… I have always considered myself a dreamer. Over the past two years I can say I have had more of my dreams come true than in any other time in my life. I believe that every single thing I’ve been through and every moment I have come through were all to prepare me for what is happening for me now. I have kept my mind on my goals without letting obstacles that have come up break my focus.

8. Running has helped me relax and not be so competitive in life. Most people who know me think, what is she talking about? Because I am an over-trainer, but I met someone last year who taught me the importance of this whole part of running. Also a pulled muscle in training in 2012 taught me a thing or two on it as well. Plus over the years I did learn an important thing about running and life, the overcompetitive type runner or person leads to self destruction! I deal with overcompetitive people on a daily basis. But after a failed marrage due to infidelity and many hard lessons in my running life, I learned to compete with no one but myself because it does lead to feeling inadequate and I am a champion!

9. Running has helped me learn to see beauty. Since I have been doing my networking I have met people of all races, color, shapes, sizes, you name it. But when I meet these people I see one thing in them and its love and passion for this sport. I learned at an early age that belittling someone and calling them names does nothing for your character. I learned this from an older sister who picked on me for everything, so I grew up with the mindset that it isn’t fun to belittle someone else. I quit putting other people down, I hate critisizim. I enjoy complimenting people when I see they are doing good, or if I see a beautiful person I never minded giving compliments. Everyone loves to be recognized for hard work or beauty, its just a fact.

10. Most of all running redefined my life by helping me find the strong woman that I am. After hitting the wall in Jacksonville this past December and feeling so let down. I realized my Boston Chase was not going to be a peice of cake. When I felt my legs cramping up and my breathing began getting hard I knew I was done, but I refused to not finish that race. I knew I had faced so many struggles a lot more difficult than this and I would have to be dead to be taken off of that trail. I have realized that I am going to have to dig deep inside of me and recall that stregnth I had that got me out of that wheelchair, or got me out of that marraige and got me to where I am at today…. I HAVE GOT THIS!!!!

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