1. Sign up for a half marathon
2. Find a training plan
3. Drop half your body size
4. Have a six pack. Forever.
When I signed up for my first half marathon in 2013, I thought it would be a fast-track to bikini-bod nation, population me. It was literally the only goal I had in mind. Needless to say, the work didn’t come as easily as expected and I ended up quitting two weeks before. Bikini-bod-less. Confidence-less.
A very common misconception is that running will make you lose weight and turn into the skinny mini athletic goddess at the end of a magical 12-week plan.
Every mile logged is a bagel in the bank. That isn’t necessarily true.
Of course many running plans paired with really great nutritional guides will give you all the results you want, and on the flip side, when you’re running endurance runs, logging hours straight on your feet, you have to make sure you have the food there to support you.
My relationship with running has changed so much since that half marathon attempt.
The reason my relationship with running is so important now, is because it allowed me to grow into the skin I was meant to fit into. Does that make sense? It wasn’t about self-deprecating goals – it was way more important. More important than that perfect pool-side Instagram.
My body is able to run miles without stopping, accelerate and sprint, recover and start all over.
I am my healthiest, strongest, fittest and happiest now than I ever was.
Three years ago, sometime after the “half marathon that wasn’t” and before “OMG! Who are you and what have you done with Anna?” – I was undoubtedly at my thinnest. I was also my most miserable. Every pound lost took with it a sliver of my character, dignity and self-respect, because I was doing it for the worst reasons. I didn’t care as much about being healthy as I did about getting approval from outside myself that I “looked good.” But I was anything but good.
I look at this picture from my 23rd birthday and I cannot recognize the person. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I totally recognize her and I also recognize the pain she was allowing herself to go through fitting someone else’s idea of who Anna was. The only change I was A-OK with through this process was my newfound love affair with blonde highlights.
DISCLAIMER: I didn’t lose or gain weight in an unhealthy way — I just did it for unhealthy reasons. What makes a reason unhealthy? When it’s not your own.
And here I am, on my 26th birthday, laughing with my friends, crushing headache champagne, and feeling 100x stronger, fitter — and f*ck it — SKINNIER than I did then.
The reasons I started to run was to achieve a huge goal, a goal that didn’t fit into a dress or a scale or a skinny-arm picture. And that’s why it’s so special to me.
This week marks the one year anniversary of my first (completed) half marathon. Queue the drama — but my life changed that day.
I realized, as cliche as it sounds that I was enough. No – I was a badass. I was a fighter with the most defined muscle in my body being the one between my ears. I was setting goals and crushing them and I was looking so good doing it.
After that race I ran into my friends’ arms, ate chicken and waffles, napped and drank beer. I felt and looked amazing.
Six months after that I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, ran into my friends’ arms and…you know the rest.
I will run more half marathons, more marathons, 10ks, 5ks — and I will repeat that cycle over and over.
I’ll always associate running with one of the greatest gifts I ever gave myself.
Running gave me unlimited confidence, strength, self-control, perseverance, respect and courage.