"My husband asked me to accompany him on his daily jog. I’m not going to lie: I refused."
The first step is always the hardest
|Becoming a runner
One day, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and suddenly realized that I was overweight. I decided it was time for me to start taking better care of myself. I have always had a complicated relationship with sports but I was tired of being an “unathletic” person that got out of breath just from walking a few steps. Instead, I wanted to prove that I was capable of looking after myself.
I had this burning desire to get a toned body, so I started with muscle-building exercises, rope jumping and swimming. After six months, my body was well prepared for a lifestyle change: My husband asked me to accompany him on his daily jog. I’m not going to lie: I refused. Then I accepted to do him a favour and to share this moment with him. So I put on an old pair of pants, a long sweater and sneakers that I had found at the bottom of my closet. I had to start with the equipment I had on hand because my dressing room didn’t offer any sportswear at all. This is ridiculous, I know.
We ran some laps and I must say that I really didn’t enjoy it. But whenever I wanted to stop, my husband gave me a little boost of motivation. Please don’t think running is simple. There’s much more to it than putting one foot in front of the other without stopping. Going for a run is much easier said than done. Therefore, achieving a good performance is not a goal you should set yourself at the beginning. So keep your hands off the stopwatch! The initial goal should rather be to finish your run and to push yourself to the maximum.
Mastering the challenge
While running, I questioned myself: "Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Because of the way people look at me? Is it actually that bad?" I felt miserable, I hurt all over and I was sweating. I wondered how I would survive without stopping and especially without dying. I cursed my husband and I also cursed myself.
When my husband finally decided to finish the run I felt relieved. But I also felt strong. The girl who hadn’t liked running since childhood, had finally mastered it. By the time I managed to calm down, I could also see the benefits: Although I had felt alone fighting a battle against my weaker self for the past 30 minutes, I managed to overcome the challenge. Every day I still thank my husband for making me lace up my sneakers back then.
This exhausting run awakened my body which had been hibernating for way too long. I didn't give up, I kept pushing, even when it seemed impossible. I was incredibly proud of not having listened to my head even though I was suffering. A real achievement that became an inexhaustible source of motivation for my next run. You will never forget your very first run. You'll remember it every time you lace up your sneakers, you close your front door…
Falling in love with the enemy
Running side by side with my husband is what made me fall in love with the sport. It was a special moment that we shared together. Later, I started running with my friends or family. I found out that many people had the same passion as me and that this shared interest was a great motivator. After a few weeks, I even began to feel impatient when I thought about putting on my running shoes again. Without realizing it, I had already grown accustomed. Experiencing my improving performance and my progress encouraged me to set myself new challenges.
Seeing that my body transformed, I treated myself with small gifts such as running shoes or clothes that made me feel even better. It was a real energy booster to wear a comfortable outfit that also matched my running endeavours. Now, I appreciate being able to go for a run whenever and wherever I want. This means that I can practice my sport without constraints. Today, it's impossible for me to imagine not being active anymore. I need to run at least three times a week. My body is toned and I learned to love myself with this new body. I have taken back control over it. I just needed to wake up. We've all been out of breath before but it's important not to give up. Over time, I set myself challenges to improve my performance: to run for one hour straight, to finish a 10 km route, to increase my pace and to participate in an official race. I have set progressive goals to take it easy. There are no limits but you need to keep in mind that success doesn’t come over night.
Pushing through ups and downs
This year, I experienced some failures because I signed up for too many races. I wanted to beat my personal record too often. I think it is also necessary to stop the watch every now and then to experience the enthusiasm and pleasure you feel purely by practicing this sport. You should always strive for more. However, you also need to give your body a rest by allocating regular recovery times. I learned to listen to my body and to know its limits. I mainly run for the joy that running gives me. It makes me feel free. Therefore, I don’t want to account to anyone, not even to my stopwatch.
My greatest success still remains the fact that I have transformed myself to be a runner. I've kept this resolution and I've never given up on this project. Most of all, I am surprised that I still enjoy this new lifestyle that much. My second greatest success was finishing the Paris Marathon. It had always been my dream to complete it. But until I reached the finish line, I thought it was impossible. However, my persistence paid off. I was able to finish the race because I didn't listen to the little voice in my ear telling me to stop running, to stop suffering. I saw the capabilities and resources that my body offered. Moreover, I received an energy boost when my husband joined me from kilometre 20 onwards. I completed the course with him at my side - it was magical. One kilometre at a time, I had to keep pushing. We ran at our own pace to avoid using up all our energy before the end. You should never try to keep up with or compete against other people. You only run for yourself. It is possible to measure your progress without comparing yourself to others. Just be patient and believe in yourself.
Running gives me satisfaction, pride, good health as well as physical and mental balance. I often think about the person I was before I started running and who I am now.
Becoming a running junkie
Over the past 3 years, I have evolved a lot. I learned many things about myself and about running. My shoes have carried me for many kilometres. I was right to push me, it was absolutely worth it. My husband believed in me, I believed in myself and I managed to go further than I could have ever imagined. Don’t underestimate yourself. Nothing is impossible as long as you enjoy what you’re doing. Sometimes I remind myself that I started running 30 minutes at 8.3km/h. Today, this is my warm-up. There are plenty of reasons to smile: I am so proud of having finished a marathon. There's a first time for everything and that's never easy. You will certainly experience some failures, but if you give yourself some time, you will increase your mileage and you will also enjoy it.
I’m still chasing many goals. Firstly, I would to like to improve my time records on the following distances: 10 km, half marathon and marathon. Secondly, I want to go running in many foreign countries to combine my two passions – travelling and running. Finally, I wish to keep this lifestyle when I start my family. This is one of the biggest challenges that I want to tackle. In the end, it’s worth overcoming your weaker self in order to deal with tasks such as putting on your running shoes. The hardest part is to start. Afterwards, you’ll be rewarded with pure happiness. Don’t give up, one day you'll be untouchable. Everyone can succeed.
Against all odds, I became a running addict. And yes, you’re right, it is my intention with this text to make you want to put on your running shoes as well. Whatever your current level, one day you can be a marathon finisher! In order to live your dream you need to find the strength to "Never Stop Pushing".
By Jackie Marie Prenveille
Connect with Jackie: