Where Those Miles Brought Me.

I had some revelations recently. I just looked at my life and realized it is SO VERY DIFFERENT than it was in 2011, and I owe 90% of those changes to running.

Here’s the thing. We always have things we want to change about ourselves…but it’s not easy. Especially if they’re abstract things like, “I wish I was less terrified of people.” Or, “I wish I didn’t look so down on myself.”

I had a list of those abstract qualities a mile long.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on all of them. But running, it seems, has helped me with many of them.

And it occurred to me: Running is probably the simplest way to transform your life.

The only real decision you have to make is to…well…run. I did one or two 5Ks in 2011, after doing boot camp for awhile because I had some confidence back to give running ONE MORE TRY.

After those two 5Ks? I decided to train for a 10K. After that successful 10K? I decided to train for a 13.1. But since I had tried on my own and failed miserably before, I decided to join a training group this time.

But with each step. Each run. I didn’t realize it, but I was changing on levels deep in my soul.

With every completed new distance, I got more confidence. With every finish-line crossed, I became braver. With every group run I tagged along on, I became more social. With every trail I ran down, I became wilder. Every step I have taken since 2011 has changed me in some way. In ways not relating to my legs, or my feet, or even my body. In ways relating to my heart.

Not only do I not feellike the same person I was in 2011, but people who meet me now? Walk away with entirely different impressions of me. I’m the marathoner. I’m the girl who runs trails. I mean, if I met me in 2011 I would have been all, “That girl…she is badass.”

All because I ran.

3565283396_2a80bca40b_bThis is me from 2009. I signed up for a 5K just because my brother was coming in town and he was going to do the 10K. Our Dad had just died a couple months before, so we were gathering in Huntsville for some upbeat celebrating of birthdays for a change. And everyone thought it would be fun to run a race. I had NO confidence. I hated running. I hated a lot of things about myself. I did the 5K and felt like I was going to die. I wasn’t even proud because I just kind showed up to do it, didn’t train, wasn’t even in shape to walk a mile, much less try to run 3. I’m certain I walked a lot of it because it took me almost 40 minutes. I remember this picture being taken and me thinking, “I did that for Dad. But I will NOT do that again.”

But, by making the decision to try again 2 years later: To do some more 5Ks (but actually, you know, try to get in shape for them this time); I set the ball rolling to the path I’m on today.

Those simple early decisions to just…do it…just run…those changed my life.

I look back and am simply amazed by who I’ve become and how different she is from Kim of 2011. I mean, I’m still terrified of people, and still lack a lot of confidence, and still have a lot of body-image issues…but relatively speaking? I’m worlds away in all of those areas.

All because I just…kept…running.

If that girl from 2009 saw those pictures above? She wouldn’t care how slow or fast she was (I had a little bit of a confidence killer with my results this weekend, which is why I bring that up) – Kim from 2009 would look at those pictures and just FALL IN LOVE with that girl. Look at her smiling! While running! She’s AMAZING. Who cares how fast she is or isn’t, she’s having fun and DOING IT.

I look at Kim from 2009 and how much she hated that 5K and running in general, and I feel like if SHE ended up being ME? Then there’s hope for anyone. You just can’t give up. (I mean, yes, give up if you hate it consistently. But know that I hated it from about 2007-2011 every time I tried.) And that EVERY step gives you something. Every run has the potential to teach you something about yourself. Even just getting out the door makes you different from the person who stayed inside.

Baby steps. Then, suddenly you wake up one day, and someone jokingly refers to your 3-years experience as meaning you can’t call yourself a newbie anymore and you realize, “Shit. They’re right. I probably should quit saying that.”

And just like that you realize how far all of those miles have taken you from where you were before. I mean, there’s still a long road ahead, but progress of any kind should be celebrated. And I just sometimes need to remind people how far I’ve come so if they’re still back where I was in 2009? They’ll know that there are plenty of roads to run away from that point. You just have to find them.

4 thoughts on “Where Those Miles Brought Me.”

  1. I don’t know if you give yourself enough credit here Kim. It isn’t just the decision to run, but the continued decision each time it’s hard, every time you want to stop, the times with the bad weather, or too much to do in life, to keep making that decision each time to go out for a run. To not stop, to keep going, to start again. Each time you were making a decision to do something for yourself. So it was a total growth experience from 2009 that has led you to where you are today…and where you will be in several years. ::jumping off my (your) soapbox::

  2. You rock! Those pictures are so amazing! I have been reading your blog for a really long time, and I am so amazed and impressed with how much you have grown and like Lindsey said, how much you’ve continued to keep making the decision to get back out on the trail. Woot Zoot! 🙂

  3. I still remember the pre-Wes Kim who called herself “lazy” and “hated exercise.” And I remember commenting that maybe you DIDN’T hate exercise, you just hadn’t found something you liked yet (for example, I like swimming, but am not fond of running — plus, I didn’t want to stress my knees. Turns out I should have been more concerned about my hips, as I have two titanium ones now and can’t move fast enough to “run.”) I like walking/hiking, though.

    And then there was your involvement in high school theatre, which while probably terrifying at times, seemed to bring you “out of your shell.” Perhaps that got you to the point where you were ready to try something new?

    Experience. As we get older and have tried and done more and more things, trying new things doesn’t faze us as much. We might get a little nervous at first, yes, that’s normal. But I know for me, as I’ve gotten older and tried new things, I’ve gotten more confidence. Not necessarily confidence that I’ll excel, more like confidence that even if I’m in last place, or fall down a lot, it will still be OK. I’ll still have family and friends who love me, I’ll still be able to pick myself up and move on. And I think I see that confidence growing in you, year by year. 🙂

  4. I am in LOVE with you, Kim. I hope that next time I’m in H’ville i can meet you. This is an inspiring post.

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