The Rungry Health Coach

How I became an endurance athlete

I was never an athlete by any stretch of the imagination.

My athletic career began and ended in the eighth grade: I was the slowest hurdler on the track team, and the slowest swimmer on the swim team. After that, I stuck to band.

In college, weight slowly crept on. I was inactive, ate terribly, smoked and drank way too much. I had misconceptions of what health was and what it looked like. I knew how to "lose weight" from reading magazines and seeing my parents struggle with their own diets. All I knew was that I had to eat a little less and workout. So when I felt extra disgusted with myself, I worked out occasionally in the college's gym facilities, but never really understood what I was doing. When I lost a few pounds, I stopped going and fell into my old habits.

After graduating college, I knew I needed to clean up my act a bit signed up for my first 5K. My now husband registered too, and together we trained for the 3.1 miles. 

That first race was tough, but I finished, and a little spark within me was ignited. I wanted to try more races, but ultimately, I wanted to get healthier. 

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I set out to lose weight for my upcoming wedding. I fell into all the dieting booby traps--low-fat foods, packaged diet snacks, low-sugar beverages. I was a "diet-food" marketer's dream. The weight slowly came off though, and I slowly became more confident. (I was also running a few miles here or there.) Gradually, I realized those low-fat foods and processed snacks were partly to blame for my slow weight loss. As I slowly transitioned to more home-cooked meals and wholesome foods, my energy levels skyrocketed. My skin cleared up. My moods leveled out and my body started changing. I also started running longer.

About a year after that first 5K, I completed my first half-marathon near Philadelphia. It was a doozy with hot and sticky temperatures, but I was so proud of myself for completing it. I knew I had to do more.

For the next five years, I kept training and racing. Running became an important staple in my life. I loved logging every mile I ran and loved the distinction of calling myself an "athlete." I was a middle-of-the-pack runner, but I thoroughly enjoyed the structured training and completion of a goal.

After several half-marathons, I realized I wanted to do something more. Something crazier. So, I registered for my first triathlon. I loved swimming as a girl, and already owned a simple bicycle. I trained sporadically, incorporating more bikes and swims into my workouts. Living in San Diego at the time, I was going through a rough patch professionally and personally. I felt hopeless and so alone. But during training, I was able to meet a supportive group of female trathletes who were welcoming, understanding and patient. They gave me so much life, and training changed my mental game.

I'll never forget that first triathlon: I remember having so much fun. I crushed that race and set a 5K PR. I felt awakened; triathlons were my jam.

Having never been an athlete, I had to teach myself everything--from how to compete to what to eat and when. I had to teach myself mindset, how to change a flat tire on a bike, what running shoes were good for me, and how to push myself past my limits. (I also had to learn what my limits were.) I faced many unfamiliar challenges. I overcame running-inflicted injuries, and learned how to tame my hunger on days where I thought I could eat EVERYTHING. I also had to deal with a lot of new-to-me emotions: anxiety, defeat, elation, pain.

(After two very hard--all right, impossible--Ironman 70.3s, I hung up my racing shoes and went into retirement. Racing made me incredibly anxious, which was not helping my health. We can chat more about that later.)

Running, triathlons and racing made me a stronger, better person. It made me confident and showed me my true power. Running was a gateway that opened my eyes to the world of fitness, and its importance. It was my "magic pill" for weight loss and true happiness.

Now, I couldn't imagine my life without some kind of physical activity everyday. Whether it be a run around the Washington DC where I call home, or breaking a sweat in my home gym--fitness is now deeply ingrained in my psyche.

That's why I became a coach. As a health and run coach, I help people learn their own strengths and show them they're not alone in their wellness journey. We navigate this thing called health together.