When I started running at 15, it was just a high school sport to me—and a way to spend some time with my oldest brother, with whom I’d never had anything in common. I certainly didn’t enter the sport with any ideas of long-term commitment.
Of corse back then I had no way of knowing how much running would influence and teach me throughout my adult life. Of the countless lessons I’ve learned from this sport, some are big, some are small, some are serious, others are funny, and some (listed below) simply surprised me.
Sixteen years after I began running, I have learned that there is a hell of a lot of waiting involved in running: Waiting for the sun to come up so it’s safe to run alone; waiting in line for your race packet; waiting in line for the port-o-potty; waiting for the starting line gun to fire; waiting for your body to catch up with your mind; waiting for injuries to heal… You get the point: running requires patience. Luckily, it helps you develop it, too.
It’s never been a secret that runners need proper fuel to feel and perform optimally, but in all honesty, it took me years of running before I really put any effort into figuring this out. In high school, my body was young and dynamic enough that it could perform well on little more than Starbucks frapaccinos, cereal, candy, and soda with a few vegetables and fruits sprinkled in when I was home for a dinner.
By the time I reached 30, with two kids and running marathons and ultras, nutrition has become a critical part of my running. It’s no longer a choice. If I don’t eat and hydrate properly, my body will start falling apart. As a result, I’ve put enormous amounts of time, energy, and research into learning what ‘proper nutrition’ means for me as a runner and breastfeeding mom, and I am all the better for it.