Monday, January 11, 2016

On the Running Mind of Karri

Here is the deal, the super exciting and amazing deal.  One night while I was in the shower after a group run I got to thinking.  I love running in groups, I love hearing the chatter of whatever pops into our minds.  I love sharing whatever the road brings out in us, whether we share it in person while we are out there OR we share it on our group page after a solo run.  I really just love hearing about it all. So I thought, and I thought and a new plan developed.  A blogging plan to open up the blog for guest segments of what is running on YOUR mind.  I first opened up this idea to my local women's running group and am very excited to say that Karri responded all in and wrote me a lovely, fabulous piece!!!!! So here it is!!!

Running Mind of Karri: 

What Running Has Done for Me

I used to make fun of runners. I was one of those people who said “If you see me
running, something is chasing me.” And, I meant it. I never ran, ever. I did the mile and
ran for volleyball in high school, but not since then. My husband, who was in the Army
until this year, tried to get me to run for years. I walked, nothing more. I had no desire to

The year I turned 40, I celebrated the year by doing a long list of random things I had
never done or tried. I was checking a lot off that list and loving everything about my life
in that year. Running was not on the list. In fact, there was no health-oriented goal
made. I was pretty healthy. I ate right most of my adult life. I kicked the smoking habit in
my early thirties and never had weight issues to worry about, thanks to genetics mostly.
I loved other forms of exercise, primarily yoga and walking. I could walk forever and my
husband joined me for walks most nights after dinner. But, running was never on my

That changed mid-way through the year. We lived at Fort Knox, Kentucky. My husband
was away for random weeks and the walks with him after dinner were sparse. Friends
who agreed to walks often got bogged down with young kids or simply didn’t want to go
after dinner. So, I found a treadmill on a yard sale site. I got it as my Mother’s Day gift. I
used it in the mornings and would walk while watching the news. My living room had a
huge picture window that faced the paved trail that ran past my house. Fort Knox, as an
Army post, had beautiful paved trails that led to tracks for training and families. The
trails ran through our neighborhoods, meadows filled with wildflowers and deer (lots of
deer), patches of woods ripe with sweet-smelling honey suckle, and streams with
wooden bridges over top. I loved those trails. The one outside of my window went
straight to the playground at Starbucks. As I walked on my treadmill, I could see Army
spouses and soldiers with rucksacks running past. As I walked on the treadmill, I
thought more and more ‘maybe I could try that?’ I also thought, if I don’t try now, I’ll
never be able to do it. One day, I decided to pick up the pace on the treadmill and run
for two minutes straight. This was a huge deal for me as I physically never tried it
before. I did it. I walked another six or eight minutes, then did it again.

The next few days and weeks, I upped those running minutes. I started running up to six
minutes at a time. I would text my husband every time I ran, declaring with exclamation
points and all, “I ran for 6 minutes!!!” Then, one day without planning it, I ran for 20
minutes. Before I knew it, I ran for 30 minutes. This was when I decided to go outside
on the trail. I wanted to be one of ‘those people’. I knew from walking that taking the trail
out of housing, past the meadow, and through the woods to the track where the soldiers
did PT was just over one mile. If you took the trail, went around the track, then back to
my front porch, it was 2.7 miles. I decided I would run to the track, walk that track, then
walk home. I tied my new shoes, tied up my hair, turned on my iPod. I took off down the
trail and had to stop before I even made it halfway to the track. Not even a half mile. I
didn’t understand. How could I run for 30 minutes on the treadmill and barely make it a
half mile on a paved, rolling trail I loved? I nearly cried as I walked the rest. I texted my
husband declaring my failure. He said it was probably my pace. He said “try again
tomorrow.” I did. I forced myself to slow down a little, watch my stride, take it slow. I made it to the track. Then I turned around and ran back, making it two miles. The next time, I decided to go around the track. I told myself after I ran to the track and around it, I could just walk the rest of the way home. I didn’t feel like I needed to walk after the
track. I ran the whole thing and made it 2.7 miles back to my front porch. I sweated. I huffed and could barely talk. My face was beet red. My legs hurt. My heart pounded and temples pulsed. I felt like I could lay down and die. And I was never so happy and excited to tell the world I, the anti-runner, ran 2.7 miles.

That route or the two mile run to Starbucks and back became my morning routine. My
meditation. My time to plan my day, think about plot holes or character flaws in my novel
I was editing, my time to stare ahead at the sunrise in front of me and feel alone, alive,
and ready to take on the world. That trail, those runs alone in the dead quite of the
meadow, stream, and patchy woods, became my happy place, literally. I picked up my
pace, I shaved off time, I got better shoes, I learned more about hydration, and I started
to feel like one of those people, those real runners. One day, soldiers were running PT
tests on the track and I ran my heart out trying to keep up and even passed one of them
as I rounded a curve. I felt strong, powerful, and unstoppable. I was in love with running
and kicked myself for not trying when I was younger.

Since I started in Kentucky alone and now that I run with friends in Maine, an amazing
runners group, I’ve learned a great deal about running and myself. I’ve learned, despite
what my mother always said and what some others thought, I really could be an athlete
of some sort. I learned I get the same mental effects from running as I did from
meditation and yoga, exact same. I learned mental tricks to keep going even when my
body didn’t want to. I learned I can set any goal and achieve it if I want. I learned to
listen to and watch others as they ran so I could adapt and improve. I learned runners
can be any size, age, and ability and truly be runners who can teach me something. I
learned having a support system, having people in front of me and behind me (as I am
typically in the middle of the pack) is just right for me. I learned how great it is to run all
alone and also how incredible it feels to see a friend loop back to join me or check on
me. I learned running can be about bonding, encouragement, or solitary reflections. It
can be challenging, painful, blissful, defiant, addictive, calming, a social event, and it can give me a feeling of immense power. Even though I generally feel pretty successful, healthy, happy, and confident in most areas of life, running added to it in more ways than I anticipated. Running made me feel badass, simply put. I’m not the fastest. I can’t run the farthest. I might never break a 10 minute mile, ever. But when I am running,
alone or with a pack, I feel that sense of ‘badassery’.

 I feel like one of those people I saw on the trails. I get it and I hope to pass it on or
spark it in someone else. Once, when my husband and I were driving my son home
from practice at the high school, we were jokingly arguing about something trivial. My
husband said, “I should just drop you off right here.” We were about seven miles from
home. Without missing a beat, my son said, “You do realize she can just run home from
here, don’t you?” That was the first time I realized others thought I was a real runner,
too. It is who I am now. It is part of how I see myself. It’s on my ‘list’ of things that make
me, well, me. It’s more than an accomplishment or something to check off a list. It is just
part of who I am now, who I want to be. Even though I never saw it coming, I’m so glad
it did and only regret not being one of ‘those people’ sooner in life.

Do YOU have a Running Mind?  Want to write down a thought YOU had while running, or why YOU started running or what YOU have learned from running.  I would love to read it and feature it so just let me know! 


  1. Love this! Does she have a blog, or did she just share this piece? I didn't see a link. Thanks!