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Recipe for Running: Five Key Ingredients

I’m an avid follower/cyber-stalker of the Another Mother Runner Tribe, and last week they were asking readers to answer a lot of thoughtful questions about our running journey.  Granted, there’s always a giveaway involved, and every day there are really cool prizes that any response to their daily posts will automatically enter you to win. One post really got me thinking.  I’ve absolutely posted a response to their series EVERY DAY, and I’ve been thoughtful, I promise.  But this query, in particular, hit home for me as I’ve been pondering why I keep running, even when something hurts (I suffer from severe joint pain that is a side effect of a medication that I have to take for 5-10 years so my cancer doesn’t come back).

"This is my recipe in one pic." Amy competes her first half marathon last May- something she never thought she could do.   You can just see the gratitude, appreciation, friendship and competition all over her smiling face!

“This is my recipe in one pic.” Amy competes her first half marathon last May- something she never thought she could do. You can just see the gratitude, appreciation, friendship and competition all over her smiling face!

And friends, there are times when the simple act of sitting is incredibly painful.  This isn’t something I have told anyone, because it doesn’t really matter.  I’m going to keep running, as long as I’m able.  But it helps put a little perspective on the rest of this post, so that’s why I’m choosing to be honest and share this with you.

For today’s giveaway, there’s a new NordicTrack treadmill as the carrot for answering the question: What are the key ingredients in your running that define your journey?  I have a treadmill just steps away in our neighborhood clubhouse so I didn’t post my response because I need one (however not having to walk outside in the frigid cold to get to it would be mighty nice!) but because I finally found the answer to my question about why I keep on keeping on.

Here’s my recipe:

Friendship – Running has given me some of the best girlfriends I’ve ever had.  I’ve always had trouble bonding with other women, and before I got into running as an adult I could count on one hand the number of female friends I’ve kept over the years.  Now I have a seemingly endless list of women I can go for a run with, and they are some of the most amazing and supportive women I know.  Even at the age of 41 I still don’t feel like I fit in most of the time, but I never feel like that with my running friends.  We’ve all got something in common: the love of the sport.

Competition – I’m all about keeping it real and it needs to be said: I’m never going to be the first one across the finish line, and that’s OK.  It’s more than OK.  And will never begrudge any of my friends when they do.  I compete 100% with myself.  Always trying to be better than the last time, crush my “A” goal or push myself past my limits.  That’s what keeps me lacing up time and time again.

Inspiration – Inspiration comes in many forms, whether it might be running with a new-to-running Bad Ass Mother Runner, or watching the Biggest Loser while I’m slogging it out on the treadmill, witnessing thousands of runners (including my very best running friend) complete a marathon, or even just remembering what I’ve been through and how far I’ve come (60 pound weight loss, then breast cancer, then this year a season of PRs and age group awards and a new sport: the triathlon).  I can always find inspiration and that’s what keeps me coming back.

Gratitude – I’m thankful for so many things these days: legs that work, feet that don’t hurt, a city where I can run literally year round, and down time.  Down time teaches us a lot of things, whether it’s a scheduled rest day, or an injury time off.  I have learned that no matter what, taking time out for any length of time means I will come back stronger and faster and even more thankful than ever before.

Appreciation – I’m learning, always, to appreciate the little things.  Time alone with a girlfriend while running, the gorgeous river I’m racing along beside, the color of the trees in the fall on a nice long run, and ever-present is my appreciation for the simplicity of the sport of running. I’ve collected a lot of gear over the years, but at the end of the day, that’s all it is: gear.  What I appreciate the most is that all I really need is a good pair of shoes and the long road ahead.

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2 Comments on Recipe for Running: Five Key Ingredients

  1. Robert Haber // December 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM // Reply

    Great post, Amy! I like your list of five a lot — friendship, competition, inspiration, gratitude and appreciation. And I definitely know what you mean about competing against yourself and realizing that you’re probably never going to be the first one across the finish line. I’m 54 and only started running a couple of years ago. (Wish I’d started sooner, but, like you, I’m just really grateful that I have legs, knees and feet that all generally work pretty well for someone my age.) Anyway, it’s already been a great journey, for sure! Thanks for such an inspiring and thoughtful post!

  2. Great post! I agree with everything but I would replace competition with The energy I get from a race. I don’t know how I would word it- but as an extrovert- the vibe I absorb from a race just energizes me for sometimes days and even weeks on end (like my first marathon). For me those feel good feelings of a race are amazing.

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