Why I Choose to Run

Why I run   |  The Fresh Exchange

Take it from me, a self-proclaimed, “I will never run distance” kind of person: I never thought that this was a post I would write. You may remember when I wrote about the lessons that becoming a runner had taught me. The response from all of you was so crazy that I felt like needed to open up even more to keep the conversation going. Your stories about trying to be a runner and finding peace and fulfillment in it were inspiring. So today I wanted to explain and SHOW you why I run. It has become important for my mental clarity and daily rhythm as a creative entrepreneur.

None of my past workout adventures have left me craving the intensity of sweat more than running. But when Mike and I read Born to Run  and decided to change our mindset and style of running, I felt ready to go back to the basics. I picked up a pair of minimalist running shoes, downloaded a running app and gathered my willingness for a new challenge. I began the journey of becoming a runner and started to enjoy the process more than I ever expected.

Why I run   |  The Fresh Exchange

What I never expected when beginning this journey was that it was indeed a journey. Each time in the past when I ran, it was  hard and forced. A mile was enough. With a new mindset and a shoe that let me connect and feel the ground beneath me, running became less about getting my sweat on and more about resetting each day. There is nothing more fulfilling when all you have to focus on is getting in the right rhythm, feeling your legs pull you forward and thinking about nothing more than how it feels when your body is doing what it is designed to do. There is a very basic and primal feeling to running that other workouts have never offered. You are reminded that you are meant to run and move like this when all is aligned.

Why I run   |  The Fresh Exchange

While being up north this summer, our runs have been longer, more purposeful and some of the most spectacular moments of the year. Many times when we head out, we take nothing but ourselves. We go for a drive and find a dead end road, orchard, dune or forest, then strap on our shoes. At that moment, we let go of all that’s behind us. We focus on our breathing, smell the summer air and watch the water flow freely. Sure we’re sweaty and our bodies are working, but after more than 100 miles in the last few months, running has become a release. I crave the sweat and the feeling of power when I conquer a hill. Plus, ending our three to five-mile runs by diving head first into Lake Michigan feels like nothing money can buy. It’s pure and refreshing. It makes it all that much more rewarding.

Why I run   |  The Fresh Exchange

Becoming a runner has made me realize a workout is not a checklist item. Instead, it’s a reward for a job well done and a positive moment during my day. Running has become part of my life just like my morning cup of coffee and smoothie. In the past, running was just a means to an end. The connection running gives me to the world outside of my work and beyond my computer can sometimes save my day, releasing stress and offering reward. Reaching goals that don’t pertain to work but leave you feeling and seeing results each day can give you confidence. Running keeps me sane when thinking about jumping off the cliff on a big idea. And I know if the idea fails, I can still succeed on the trail.

Why I run | The Fresh Exchange

So this fall I set a new goal: conquer a half marathon. It’s one I never thought I would set in my life. Actually, I remember saying to Mike, “I will never run a half marathon.” Hitting five to six miles a day at a solid 10 to 11-minute pace, I feel confident that this is attainable. I’m a little scared, but I know on the other side I will feel an accomplishment that only I can give myself. I don’t want this to be about pushing my limits, but about learning to enjoy the process of challenging myself.

Why I Run  |  The Fresh Exchange

I plan to conquer the half in November, so all my training and dune running will hopefully come in handy. I hope when I am running on the streets, I will remember how much fun it was to leap down a hill and navigate my way around the trees while dodging roots on the ground. Although I can’t end the half with a dip in Lake Michigan, I realize that just like life, running is a journey. It’s a journey that has different experiences that can only happen one step at a time. I am excited to cross the finish line and feel the confidence and strength that will pour through my sweat of accomplishment.

Why I Run  |  The Fresh Exchange

It’d be wonderful to hear more from you about running: have any of you finished a specific distance race? Do you have any guidance? Not only that, have you read Born to Run? What kind of shoes do you wear? How has running changed your perspective on life and working out? It’s all interesting to me. I never expected to fall so in love with something as this kind of workout, especially when I remember those days as a soccer player dealing with the “punishment” of running for two hours as a team. Funny how just a slight shift in perspective can make all the difference in life sometimes.

To find similar workout wear see these links:
Tank from Target  |  Sports Bra from Target  |  Leggings from Athleta  |  Shoes from New Balance

This story is brought to you by vapor-distilled Smartwater, who found unique inspiration for their water by looking up to the sky. We hope the change in perspective this piece offers will help inspire you.

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  1. super to hear that you’ve become an addict (runners’ high – wheee!). i’m 28 and have been running for 10+ yrs, recreative but I sometimes participate in races (half marathon, 10 miles). i would like to warn you for minimalist shoes, they might be a good choice for some runners but are definitely not the holy grail: there are a great number of runners who have returned to running shoes that offer more support. especially long distance running can be tricky. reason: once you get tired, your posture suffers (core stability! you should train this when prepping for a half marathon) and this causes imbalances in your running style (or magnifies the ones that are already present). maybe you’ve already done this, but it’s a very good idea (imperative even) to get a dynamic running analysis. this will pinpoint your weak points so you can work on them and improve your running style. and also, Pilates is a fantastic addition to running (core stability, I cannot stress this enough). another recommendation (i hope it doesn’t sound like i’m preaching here…): do you really run every day? it would be wise to build in some resting days (hey, you could do some core stability then!), especially if you’re going to start running long distances, you will notice that your body needs some time to recover. otherwise, you’re likely to run into some injuries (i’m really so good with words don’t you think). if you feel pain while running: rest and recover before the injury becomes chronical (because then you’ll be out for more than 6 weeks and likely longer, trust me, i’ve been there). but overal, i really just want to wish you a great time, enjoy, listen to your body and you’ll be just fine my lady!!

    1. Hey Thanks! This is all super great. Not preachy do not worry 🙂

      Yes I am super into core workouts. I go to pilates and also on off days do T25 with Sean T (really amazing core workouts with Cardio focus). I actually was never able to run distance until I switched over to a minimal shoe and adjusted my form. I have a membrane around one of my calf muscles that does not expand while I run and by running in the heel to toe style form this muscle is overworked and I end up having a feeling of shin splints. I saw a doctor about it back in college because it was affecting my running as an athlete and performance. They continued to gate train me and never adjusted the issue. A lot of it had to do with my arches. Needless to say this is part of the reason I never thought I would be able to run distances. Now after reading the stories in Born to Run I realized the issue. Mike and I spent about 3 months working in our shoes and getting fit before doing our first run. We also wear heart rate monitors when we run more than 4 miles. Most days I run between 2-5 miles. I am beginning to work into my training for the half now but right now focusing more on getting my core and upper body strong for all the reasons you mentioned. Thanks so much for all your thoughts!!

  2. born to run was a very inspiring book and an interesing study too. the reasons mcdougall determined that kenyan-born runners are consistantly amazing runners makes sense. though i think it’s very important to note that they grew up and lived their whole lives running “minimally”. while we can make certainly make corrections to our running mechanics (as McDougall did) our body’s are still structurally set in away that really does benefit from the sience and technology of conventional running shoes. like anouk, i would caution against training high volume with those minimalist shoes. you should absolutely still wear them for shorter runs and when you run on soft surfaces (i HIGHLY recommend umstead forest or the tobacco road trail – both are awesome!), but if you’re going to be pouding pavement or doing double-digit runs, get a good pair of more supportive shoes. my buddy, bobby mack, at capital area run walk knows his stuff and can give good guidance – you should visit the store.
    all that said, i love how your journey with running has evolved and am so excited to hear you are ready to challenge yourself with a half marathon. i’ve run a couple of full marathons now and cannot say enough about endurance running. it is intimidating but as you said, the accomplishment you feel is the most rewarding thing, you will love it! have fun training and happy running to you!

  3. How exciting! Our stories are so similar – I didn’t think I could even run 3 miles last September, but then a friend inspired me to take a chance and sign up for a half marathon… for some reason, the challenge sounded thrilling and hence training began! If you can run 7-8 miles on hilly terrain, you should have no problem completing the half marathon, so be encouraged! When you run through that finish line, there is an INCREDIBLE feeling of accomplishment that comes! All the effort will be worth it – I promise!

    After your race (or long runs), you may experience some fairly intense soreness. There is an all natural gel that contains arnica & peppermint that can be quite soothing to your muscles… it’s called Arnica Plus & can be found at the Vitamin Shop (http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/p/peaceful-mountain-arnica-plus-3-5-oz-gel/8p-1002#.VCA3mytdVt0). Excited for you! 🙂

  4. Loved reading about your running journey and I can totally relate. Before this year, running was totally a “checklist item” for me, something I knew I should do but didn’t want to. Then this year I started running in the morning. I stopped listening to music and started focusing on my breathing and the sounds around me. Now I run at least five times a week, whether it’s a quick 1.5 miles before work or a long weekend release in the park. The impact it has had on my mood, my energy and the way I feel about myself is striking. Now I can’t imagine my life without it and that’s so exciting and powerful. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  5. Oh wow, these Minimus shoes look intriguing. I wonder what the impact on knees and ankles is with these shoes. Do you run with these on roads as well, or only off road/trail like? It seems so very natural to have less stuff between you and the ground although I like a little support & bounce.
    I started running 15 months ago and now run every 2 days during lunch break. Usually about 7K but I just started to train for my first 10K race in a few months. (oh and about my own shoes? I run on Kalenji Kiprun running shoes which I love. I’m giving away 3 pairs on my blog right now to celebrate my 200th run! http://www.joelix.com/Giveaway-Kalenji-x-JOELIXcom ).
    I can totally relate to your story, for me running is also about right now, looking forward, being outside. It doesn’t feel like a workout, it feels great to move, become stronger, and feel fit. It’s funny how you can crave going for a run, right? Thanks for sharing your story, Megan and for recommending Born to Run!

    1. I highly suggest reading Born to Run before you purchase a minimal shoe. As you will see from other’s comments they are not for everyone. They work for me, but it takes training and preperation for a shoe like this because it can be harmful so if you are considering it. Read the book to learn about the adjustments and such that come with the shoe. So exciting you are killing it on your runs!

  6. Amazing post! I really liked the video too! I also published one post about running, how I used to dislike it and why I like it so much here in London and anywhere else in the world! Happy to see that so many other women share the same feelings!

  7. I absolutely loved this post! It helped me remember why I started running in the first place. Over a year ago, I had started running as a way to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. The more I ran, the more I cared about the “release” and relaxation I gained from running. I soon stopped focusing on how much weight I was losing, but focused more on how healthy and confident I felt. Fast-forward to today, I’m really sad to say that I’ve lost that passion for running that I had over the last year. Your post has definitely inspired me to change my mindset about running and get back into the therapeutic side of it. Running isn’t just about living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight, but it’s also a great way to reconnect with yourself and teach yourself new lessons.

  8. It really is frustrating to see so many people jump on the minimalist shoe/five finger/barefoot running bandwagon. Megan, it sounds like you have enough experience to understand the impact of running in those types of shoes, especially over long distances, but to other readers – PLEASE do not run out and buy them just because you see others doing it. Yes, they are intriguing and trendy, but do your research! To give you an idea of my perspective, I am a competitive athlete (since childhood) and have worked in athletic shoe stores doing gait analysis and listening to brand presentations on the newest technologies and fads. I can’t tell you how many people come in to the store who have never run more than a mile and want to buy Vibram Five Fingers. We discourage it and I bet some stores would even laugh at you.

    It is my personal opinion that unless you spend all day barefoot (which I hope you don’t, considering the state of the subway floor) you shouldn’t be exercising barefoot either. That said, everyone disagrees on this. It should be obvious that you can’t go from wearing high heels in the office all day to running barefoot after work, but you would be surprised how many people think that’s totally okay and get injured. In this video Megan is running on grassy terrain, which is MUCH easier on your feet/heels/ankles than concrete.

    If you do get into running (which I hope you do!) just do a little research about what best suits your situation. Ask questions – to your friends, to a salesperson (they might be biased, mind you), a doctor, a physical therapist, whoever. Consider your previous experience, general fitness (see previous commenter’s point about core strength/fatigue), the surface you run on, and how long you run for. You definitely can run barefoot or “minimal” but it takes planning, you can’t jump in to it, and it is frankly not for everyone.

  9. You can do it ! good luck on your marathon prep. If you have years of running experience, i think you can scale up your milage before November, without getting injured.
    Dear readers, careful about the minimalist runnings shoes. They recommend you build miles ground up, all over again, if you are taking this route. I wear mine on short/medium distance hikes without backpacks and for very short distance running. And i walk barefeet a lot (its an Indian thing ). I was told age is also a factor and exercise history plays a role.

  10. Your video and words are very inspiring, especially as I have such a yo-you relationship with running.I hope to get to the point where it actually becomes enjoyable instead of a mere chore or workout, and you seem to have found that sweet spot!

  11. Love this post! I was the kind of person who never thought I could even run a mile (aka, the greatest torture in middle school gym class). I started running a couple of years ago and did my first half marathon last year. I’m not the fastest by any means, but I love knowing that I can go farther that I ever thought possible. Good luck on the half! Sounds like you’re going to have a great time. (And thanks for the Born to Run recommendation.)

  12. Yes! This is the absolute perfect way to describe running and why it’s so amazing! Will you be running the City of Oaks half in Raleigh? It’s hilly but a great race! I love the half marathon distance and try to do one per season, but everyone has a different distance that works best for them. I wish I could do minimalist shoes, but my injury-prone legs+hills of Raleigh make them not quite ideal. Thanks for sharing this great narrative about running!

  13. I struggle to run far on my own, but I went for a run with a friend on sunday, and we ended up going 6.5 miles! so you’re right, being in the right mindset is all you need. when i’m by myself, I focus on how I far I’ve gone, instead of using it as a time for a sort of meditation. thanks for that extra push and reminder of how good it can feel to just get out and run 🙂

  14. Really inspiring!! I just started getting back into running since we moved to a place by the sea it makes it so much nicer to run to such a beautiful view.

  15. Half marathon’s are the best!! I come from a similar place to you: started running about 5 years ago, definitely never thought I’d still be doing it today, and gradually learning to push myself and love it. I did a half marathon last summer (only the second race I’ve ever done) and the accomplishment feels like nothing else. I thought it would be painful, that I’d have to struggle towards the end, but instead I ran faster than I thought possible, and felt amazing. So go for it!

  16. Okay I have to leave a comment here too because I identify with this SO much. When I was in high school I played soccer and always hated the long runs… they were such a slog. As long as I was on the field, running was fine… but the monotony of just pounding the pavement was too much. Then I went through a generally horrible time in my life that I’ve only talked about a little bit on the blog — I was rejected from a million grad schools, had a big fallout with a family member, and got a divorce (at 22) all in a matter of months. I moved into a little apartment by myself and felt so lost. It was almost a primal urge that made me go outside and run… I can hardly explain it now, but it helped me heal. I completed my first half marathon that year and then moved on to my first marathon. And by the time I did, I’d worked through a lot of the pain. I still feel like I can think the best, come up with the best ideas, and work through things best when I’m running.

    I don’t wear minimal shoes, but I have bad feet. I’ve gone through a lot of different phases with changes in my feet through the years — I used to be a Mizuno girl, now I wear Brooks’ pureflows — which are lightweight at least. I love them. 🙂

    This is such an inspiring post — thank you for writing about running in such an amazing and inspiring way! (And I looooved Born to Run — you’re making me want to re-read.)

  17. Love this post! And I’m looking into that book right now. I’m not a super intense runner but I have just found over the years it’s the only workout that works for me. It’s quick, free and relieves stress which is all I need in a workout. What half marathon are you running? Mary Keller and I are running the Thunder Road here in Charlotte in November so we’re training too. If you have never run a race before I’d recommend doing so just to get the feel of running in a pack of people. Other than the people race day is so exciting and supportive. Best of luck in the race, you’ll do great!

  18. This post is so well-written and on point! I’ve also developed a love for running I can’t seem to shake. Good luck with your half-marathon! I am running my first this fall as well. I’m sure you are already following a training plan, but if you need some extra motivation you can check out the plan I’m using here: http://dayjobsanddreams.com/first-half-marathon-training-plan/
    xo from one runner to another–Kaitlyn 🙂

  19. Did you consider Barefoot Ted’s Luna Sandals? They are actually slightly cheaper than the ones you got, but I feel like I’d enjoy the extra covering on the shoes you bought. I am getting close to finishing Born to Run and am so inspired! I’m sadly out of shape, but have been getting out there around twice a week which is twice a week more than usual!

  20. Fantastic post. I love your perspective + the pictures. The Grand Traverse area and running are a big part of my spiritual geography. I began running early in life. Running became a necessity for me early on. It’s how I survived some long northern Michigan winters and kept depression at bay. I ran in college a bit, moved out west and fell in love with trail running. I successfully finished the Leadville 100 a few years back, but I’ve never really been the same since and have struggled to find a place for running in my life. I miss it, but I’m trying to figure out how to get that part of me back without being checked out. Being present with my body. So now I am a beginner and I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be. Lots of grace, no competition, just running and being. As a creative as well running brings a spaciousness to my soul that clears out the heaviness of life to create room for imagination and possibility. This is why I love running.
    As for shoes I run in the New Balance 110v2 and soon to try the Hoka One One (super ugly, but I know tons of people that run in them and rave about them) Reading: Running with the Mind of Meditation. Good luck in your race!!!

  21. I’ve always hated running, but I do need exercise. Your post has inspired me to go for it and approach running with a different perspective! Thank you.