Do Not Give Up: The Transformative Power Of Running

Giving up will always be an option. Always. 

The running world is an incredibly intimidating one to anyone who has struggled to be athletic. All day long, I read emails from women and a handful of men sharing their stories about what feels like an uphill battle that will never end. Because for those of us who want to feel empowered or who need the constant reminder that despite the fact that we aren't innately good at something, it doesn't mean that we can't be successful, running is a sort of salvation.

So we fight. And we fight. And we work towards finish lines that make us feel inadequate and hopeless, struggling to silence the voice in the back of our heads that says that we just aren't cut out for this.

And in those moments when giving up feels inevitable, we remember why we're running in the first place.

Maybe it's for your daughter(s) or your son(s) so that they can look at you and know that Mommy is a badass who never gives up on her goals.

Maybe you're doing it for your badass lady gang, because you know that even though you're the weakest link, you're all stronger because you're a team. 

Or maybe you're doing it for someone you lost. You run in their honor, or to raise money for the disease that took them, or to manage the bottomless hole you feel in your heart every second of every day. Because running and grief are one in the same. Neither ever get easier. You just get stronger.

Or maybe you run for yourself. To challenge that inner critic that whispers destructive thoughts when you look in the mirror. Or to prove that you're brave enough to advocate for yourself in the workplace. Maybe you're running away from a broken relationship that led you to believe that you aren't worthy of someone else's love and affection. Or even worse, your own.

Or maybe you're running because it hurts so f*cking badly that you don't have time to hear yourself think and process the mess that has become your life.

I started running because I was desperate. I knew nothing about the sport and convinced myself that I was an outsider for a long time. And while it took me a while to realize that I didn't need to prove myself as a runner to anyone, I also learned how transformative running could be.

There's nothing empowering about looking in the mirror and feeling like you aren't good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, or strong enough. There's nothing liberating about slaving away in a gym, working towards a number on a scale. But running towards finish lines that you've convinced yourself you aren't capable of crossing? 

That's magic. 

When I started Run, Selfie, Repeat, I didn't have an end game in mind. I was a young woman who was trying to make the most out of a viral hurricane that I found myself in. And over time, I found a safe haven in the community we built here. I trusted the women and men who came to Run, Selfie, Repeat and in turn shared their stories with me. I discovered the courage to open up about my struggles with my weight, grief, and journey as an athlete. I've made mistakes and embarrassed myself. I've let you all down time and time again but with your selfless support, found the courage to continue forward.

I'm human. I'm vulnerable. And I'm hell bent on changing the way we see strength. 

The world is wide enough for all of us. For both the extraordinary women who dare to become the best in the world and for the women who may never actually cross the finish line of a half marathon but still have the courage to show up to the starting line. In my eyes, both are equally impressive and inspiring.

Here's the thing about ego, if you're looking to gain respect in anyone's eyes but your own, you're doomed. You cannot get your worth from someone else. It's something that must be bestowed upon yourself.

I don't care who you are or what you think you are or are not capable of accomplishing, but you aren't just enough. You're more than enough.

Running is an empowering and transformative sport that I hope to bring to more women. Because everyone deserves to know what it's like to look in the mirror and feel so damn proud of the woman staring back at them. Everyone deserves to go through the process of setting a goal that feels utterly impossible, giving everything they have, falling on their face, brushing themselves off, and realizing that they are so much stronger than they ever thought possible.

Everyone deserves to discover that the only way you can actually fail is if you fail to try.

There's power in our stories, our missteps, failures, trials, and hardships. Because when we f*ck up, that's the real test of your resilience. Do you bury your head in the sand? Do you retreat? Do you listen to the people who never supported you but now come knocking, demanding to be acknowledged while they lie and define you? Or do you listen and try to give yourself vulnerably to your misstep? There's no right or wrong answer, just better and worse choices.

But here's the thing that running has actually taught me about life: You can always get back up. Giving up will always be an option and anyone who has actually given up knows that it isn't the easier one. Just sometimes it feels like the only one. But even when you give in to those moments of doubt, you can always pick yourself up and try again. 

Life is so very, very precious. Listen with an open heart but know that not everyone wants to see you succeed. When you come across these people, just smile and thank them for their time. You have nothing to prove to your father in law who asks you why you're not skinnier if you're training for a half marathon. Or your co-worker who tells you that you don't look like a runner. Or to anyone who thinks it's appropriate to tell you what you are or are not.

When Women's Running asked me to be on the cover of the July body issue, I froze. I thought about all the horrible things people say to me online both about my body and my character and in that moment, those very few disgusting comments rang louder than the thousands of emails, messages, and comments I see from women who are fighting to show the world what strength looks like alongside me. And luckily, the women in the #SportsBraSquad gave me the courage to woman up and humbly face my fears.

This issue is about redefining what strength looks like and celebrating the millions of women who are running for their lives. Who are embracing their strength, their health, and their bodies and supporting one another along the way.

In this issue of Women's Running Magazine, I wanted to find a way for women who have already discovered the power of running to give that gift to the women in their life who haven't yet discovered the power of running. So Women's Running and I came up with the idea for the #BadAssLadyGang5K. A virtual race that will go down after we complete a four week training plan that were created by the incredible Josh Maio. The first plan is for runners looking to run their strongest 5K and the second is for first time runners looking to kick ass and take names. 

This issue of Women's Running is dedicated to every single woman who has ever struggled to feel like they are or could be a runner. Or for anyone who has ever showed up to a race or run and felt like they didn't belong. Running has an incredible way of transforming and empowering women to live the lives they deserve to be living instead of the ones we've convinced themselves are just good enough. Giving up is always an option my friends. But so is going forward.

Let's give the empowering gift of running. Build the sisterhood. Thank you Women's Running Magazine for helping me show the world what strength looks like. Thank you Oiselle and Sally Bergesen for believing in me, sponsoring me, and giving me the courage to keep fighting. And thank you. Thank you for having my back, demanding the most out of me, and for never giving up.  

Head up, wings out.