Back in junior high and high school, I ran cross-country and track. Unfortunately, not all of my running was super graceful. In middle school, my mom bought me a sports bra that zipped up the front. I don’t know why any clothing designer or mom would think that was a good idea, but we all went with it at the time. The zipper came down in the middle of the 800 and my girls started going all over the place, especially in the last leg when I was sprinting to the finish line. Those track jerseys are made of pretty thin material, so it was pretty embarrassing, but at least it was black material instead of sheer white like some teams had. When I finished, my friends asked me why I was running with my hands pressed up by my chest since it made me look like a goofy penguin. I explained my bra came undone and quickly asked for a sweatshirt so I could adjust myself slightly more discretely. I remember one friend’s mom laughing so hard about that. Let’s just say it’s funnier to me now than it was then.
Some years later, in college, I was going for a run around the neighborhood and biffed it on an uneven part of the sidewalk. I went sliding across the sidewalk, my iPod went flying, and two guys saw me and started laughing. As I got up, I heard “Oh sh**, did you see that chick! Aw man, that’s so embarrassing!” By the way, jerks, thanks for asking me if I was okay. I brushed the dust off, picked up my iPod hoping it wasn’t broken – 1st generation was a little more touchy, and kept running – a little faster since I was embarrassed. My arm and knee were bleeding so bad when I got home that friends asked if I’d been hit by a car. I still have scars, but the story has made me laugh more than a few times over the years.
In my mid-20s, I got a little more ambitious with my running. I hadn’t experienced any humiliating events in a while, so things were looking up. I heard about Team In Training and fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society from a friend, and I thought that sounded like a great cause. So I pledged to raise $2,000 and run the Des Moines Marathon, never having run a long-distance race like that before.
Training was going okay. I was putting the miles in and got up to 13.5 mile runs on Saturdays. I was feeling pretty proud… Then I got completely injured. I didn’t know to cross-train, so I was pretty much just running all the time. I’d been running before, but not nearly the distances I was adjusting to during training. I messed my knee up, lost a toenail – yep, it was super gross – and I completely tore up my plantar fascia on one foot. Limping and over-reliance on my good foot led me to injure that one, too. Hot mess.
I had raised over $2,000 and was so pumped to have met my fundraising goal, but I wasn’t able to compete in the marathon. I spent months in physical therapy. It took a few years before I could really run again, and I have to be careful not to overdo it to avoid re-injury. My plantar fascia will get all riled up if I do too much. I’ve also learned that I have to really watch my shoe selection to avoid foot pain. Since I have a wide foot, that’s especially fun.
When you’re injured or after you’re humiliated while running, it’s really easy to want to sit on the couch and make a habit of that. It’s easy to say: “Well, that was awful and I don’t want to go through that again so I’ll just take it easy.” But you’re not doing yourself any favors by doing that.
Since I’d done so much running in the past, there was a part of me that still wanted to run and find races to compete in to challenge myself to get active. Plus, I just don’t like the gym and running doesn’t cost me $100/month in membership fees. I looked around for options, then found something I’d grow to love…
I discovered Yes.Fit. This site lets you sign up for long distance races and complete them however you’d like – including in shorter increments. Races vary in distance and cost about $20-25 each (cheaper than most of the races I’ve come across outside of this site). You get a medal or a t-shirt to celebrate the end of the race. I like the medals myself…
With Yes.Fit, you can always go out and run the full distance if you’re in that kind of shape. But I’m not, so I do the races in shorter increments over a longer period of time. Yes.Fit syncs to Apple Health and a bunch of other fitness apps and devices, so I just go for a run or walk wearing my Apple Watch and sync the data and it adds up my miles for me.
To date, I’ve completed 10 races and 310.3 miles. I’m pretty proud of that. That’s 310.3 miles I didn’t sit on the couch. They weren’t marathons, or half-marathons, or triathlons, or anything extreme. But they counted.
…And I have to spotlight the Dirty Dancing (Lake Lure Virtual Challenge) race since I’m now the proud owner of a medal with the Swayz’ on it. Nobody puts Baby in a corner. RIP you amazing, amazing man.
Don’t let injuries, embarrassment, or lack of fitness keep you from earning medals and competing with yourself to get the miles in. Challenge yourself to be active since it’s so important for your health. Whether you log your miles fast or slow, all at once or in increments, just get out there! …And maybe watch for uneven pavement and leave any zip-up sports bras at home.