DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Finish Line but all opinions and thoughts below are my own. All photos in this post were taken by Heidi Kumm and Alex Petre.
#FindYourStrong. This is Saucony’s call to runners, to find their strong and celebrate it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this the past few weeks. About finding my own strong, pushing my own limits and living up to my own standards, not anyone else’s. We all come from different walks of life, fighting different battles, celebrating different victories. Finding your strong is the only type of strong to find – yours and no one else’s.
The first time I recall finding my own strong as an adult was lacing up my gym shoes at the University of Cincinnati Rec Center where I challenged myself to run on the treadmill. As the first two miles ticked by, I decided to not stop till I reached 3 miles. The second after I hit 3 miles, I hopped off the treadmill, elated that I’d pushed my limits and hadn’t died. In that moment, I decided I was a runner. After years of playing competitive volleyball, running brought a new, individual challenge that relied on only me to win or lose, no team pushing me to be better. Just me, finding a my own strong.
A couple years later, I took on a half marathon and pushed myself once again, finding a new strong I didn’t know I had. A few half marathons later (including one where I’d convinced my momma to find HER strong and run with me!), running and all fitness came to a screeching halt when my Osteochondritis Dissecans tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that, oh yeah, I’m not invincible and sidelined me. Surgery on both knees followed.
And after surgery? I was back to finding my strong again. I focused on recovery, diligently performing the strengthening exercises prescribed. As soon as I was cleared, I rode a stationary bike (slowly), then graduated to walking without crutches and even hopped in the pool to swim laps. As much as I suck at swimming, I was ready to reclaim my fitness, my athleticism, my running.
Soon, walking became slow running which then became faster running. In the days since surgery, I have never once taken for granted my ability to run, to hike, to do yoga, to walk up and down stairs. Even on the crappiest run, I’m so grateful that I’m even ABLE to run.
I finished a few more half marathons before upping the challenge factor and registering to run UP a 14,000 feet mountain. Granted, the race started at 10,000 feet but breathing ain’t easy in mountain elevation! In the final miles of the Mt Evans Ascent, I found a strong I had no idea I possessed. I finished in the back half of ‘middle of the pack’ while all my friends finished before me. But you know what? I still finished. (It’s just a rumor that I crossed the finish line whining about never signing up for 14.4 mile uphill race ending on the top of a mountain ever again.)
In the recent months, I’ve found myself learning to balance a new ‘normal’ that includes a lot less free time. As a consequence, I de-prioritized fitness and running in order to ‘survive’ in those early months. My new normal means I’m starting from just about ground zero when it comes to running. I threw most of my strength and endurance out my downtown office building window.
You know what that means? Time to find my new strong.
I’ve made my health and fitness a priority again. I’ve planned fitness dates with girlfriends to catch up and exercise. I’ve pulled myself out of bed early to get moving before work. I’ve been lacing up my Sauconys for short runs because a short run is better than no run. Without short runs, I’ll never graduate back up to the long runs. And if I expect to run back up Mt. Evans in June, long runs need to work their way into my future real quick.
I’m never going to be the person finishing races before my friends but I’ll definitely be the #runabler cheering them on from (much farther) behind. For me, running isn’t about being the Best Ever. It’s about being the Best Lynne and you being the Best You. It’s about owning the strength I have in that moment to push just a little bit harder, go a little bit farther. To grow as a runner and a person.
And that’s what I love so much about Saucony. Of course, they have excellent shoes for those runners who ARE the Best Ever – but for the broader audience, they want us runners to identify what challenges us, individually, and go do it. Sure, it’s gonna be hard and you’re probably going to struggle a bit but without the challenge, we never get better.
So go #FindYourStrong. Get out there, push yourself and jump for joy that you can.