I first started running my senior year of college. I had always admired runners but never thought I could be one. But, that year I found myself struggling and in need of a new fitness routine. I grew up playing soccer and softball and generally leading an active lifestyle and my college years felt like they were lacking that. I reached out to my cousin Elizabeth — the same one who gave me plant based advice! She’s truly the best. She gave me some tips that worked for me, which was to post that I was running a 5K on Facebook. The idea was that posting it to the “world” would motivate me to train and run.
So, I posted in the beginning of the summer that I would be running a 5K in the fall and then got to work. When I first started, I couldn’t even run a mile. I was so out of shape that I was walking more than I was running but little by little I ran further and further. It worked! That September, five years ago, I ran my first 5K and immediately fell in love with running.
Soon, my overachiever and ambitious self took over and I was signing up for race after race, pushing myself and my body. Running has been one of my life’s greatest gifts. My deepest friendships and relationships have started through running and racing. One of my very first dates with my fiancé was a run around Jamaica Pond in Boston. I’ve met some amazing and inspiring women through Black Girls Run! Boston — two of which are also Dominican and we’ve coined a very unofficial #DGR group 😉 I have a sole-mate and a swole-mate! I said it earlier but it bears repeating: running has truly been one of my life’s greatest gifts. Keep scrolling for my top 3 tips and pictures!
1. Pick a goal, one that scares you a little bit.
One of my favorite mottos is do it afraid. I never EVER would have thought that I would be an ultramarathon runner, I never even thought I’d even run a 5K for fun! My softball coaches and teammates from high school have teased me since I became a runner because I would complain and do anything to get out of running laps bacck then. Looking back now, I was full of doubts and fear of not being able to run and be successful (whatever that means).
About 4 years ago now, I met one of my most influential and deepest running partners, Liza. It was a serendipitous meeting that I like to think was coated in a little birthday magic! We met on my 23rd birthday at a 5 mile race that we were both supposed to run with other people who bailed. We started talking on the train ride there and the running seeds were sown! During that conversation we talked about marathons and ultramarathons — aka distances greater than 26.2 miles — that seemed (to me) unachievable at the time. A few years later, with a few races under my belt, it didn’t seem too out of reach but definitely a little daunting. With a little liquid courage after a race, we vowed to run a 12 hour race together a few months later and never looked back. You don’t have to be an ultrarunner and go to an extreme like me. But, taking steps outside of your comfort zone can be one of the best things that you do!
2. Speak it into existence
I am totally a fake it until you make it, speaking positivity into everything type of person. I think this is probably part of what helped me overcome the doubts that I had about myself. I also like to think that I have found a good combination of speaking things into existence and “real g’s move in silence like lasagna” aka putting in the work and not screaming it everywhere. Maybe those who follow me on social media think differently (ha!). In any case, moving into a situation with a positive attitude can oftentimes make all the difference and believing in yourself can’t be understated. It sounds incredibly corny but I always tell people that running these races for me is about 50% training and 50% believing in myself. No matter what you do or how you stay active, believing that you can makes a world of a difference!
3. Relax and go get it
Be easy on yourself and do what you can. Relax and go get it is one of my many running mantras that I oftentimes repeat to myself as I’m training or racing. My running partner, Liza, and I joke around that it is tradition to be undertrained, which is usually true. Life happens! It’s all about doing what you can with the work that you have put in. Last week I ran my first half marathon 8 months after having my daughter. Thankfully, I was able to keep running through 28 weeks of pregnancy and kept walking after I stopped running but my training now has been no where near where it used to be. I ended up having an unplanned c-section and I have wanted to take it easy and recover fully postpartum. I am lucky that my daughter loves to be in the stroller and when she was a few months old I began pushing her and walking around the neighborhood. As I started easing back into running again, I realized how much better I oftentimes feel after a good run but sometimes the time gets away from me or I am just too exhausted. Training for this race went well as a whole but I wasn’t able to run as much as I wanted to. I had a very aggressive (and scary!) goal going into the race and I didn’t get there but it felt SO good to be running again. During the race, once I realized I wasn’t going to make the time I had wanted, I relaxed and enjoyed the journey and had a great time!
Those are the three things that work for me!
What do you do to stay active? Do you use any mantras to keep you going?
What are tips you would share with mamas that want to get moving?
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