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Short Stories from Non-Runners Turned Runners

Below is a compilation of stories from five of our Impi team members, who discuss the moment they became runners. Whether it be finding sanity for one mother or to replace an addiction, their stories show strength and inspiration for anyone looking to replace their 0.0 sticker on the back of their car, or to leave the term “couch potato” out of their vocabulary forever.

Running from Obesity by Mandy Meyer

I haven’t always been a budding athlete. In fact, just two years ago I was, what you’d term, a “typical couch potato.” I weighed 105kg, smoked 30 cigarettes a day, spent my weekends in pubs, wore size 42 jeans and had a resting heart rate of about 100 bpm.

I was not only wasting my life but destroying it at the same time. I wanted to live again and I wanted to live with purpose.

Walking slowly turned into running, running turned into park runs, park runs turned into 10km races, which pushed me to try half marathons.

Running has changed my life dramatically - not only has my physical appearance changed, but so has my mind.

“Why running?” you may ask. Because running has the power to change everything. Running has the power to create self-worth. Running creates a sense of freedom that you can’t get anywhere else. Sometimes I just want to know what my limit is or how far can push my limits. Running gives me all that time alone, time to clear my head, time to reflect, time to switch off from all the negativity we face on a daily basis. Running pushes, me to be a better person, physically and mentally. Running took me from hating myself to loving myself.

You’re Not a Runner by Jeremy Guzman

Your mind is NOT your friend. Your mind will lie to you, deceive you, mislead you. Overcoming your mind requires listening to your heart. In 2014, I was the guy with the 0.0 sticker on the back of my car. I was envious of those people that could “easily” go out the door and knock out 3 miles or more. If I tried to run, my legs would hurt and my breathing would become labored and my mind would tell me “you’re not a runner.” Little did I know...

In 2015 I took a stand. I was properly fit for shoes, and I started a training program. It hurt. It was hard. My mind told me to quit. But, my heart was in it and I continued. Six months after I started, I ran my first half marathon (without proper training, and signing up at 4:30 PM the day before), and I finished. Twelve months after I started running, I completed my first marathon. Two years after I started running, I completed my first Ultra and logged a 50-mile distance. You know what my mind still tells me, three miles into my runs? “You’re not a runner.” My heart says differently.

My New Best Friend by Justine Hayward

I have to say, running never crossed my mind when I was younger. I saw people running and I was like, “oh, that's not for me. And who runs for fun?!” Fast forward a few years. I was at a low point in my life with a divorce, depression, and anxiety closing in and I needed an escape. I remember one afternoon being pushed to my breaking point and I needed something, but I didn't know what. So I laced up what sneakers I had at the time (sooo not running ones) and out the door I went. Pretty sure I full on sprinted down the road and maybe made it a half a mile before having to stop to cry in between the wheezing and trying to catch my breath. I gathered myself and decided to jog another half a mile, ok, that wasn't so bad. Turned around and headed home. That run back changed my life. The feeling I got when I finished that 2-mile run was amazing! It was liberating! It’s exactly what I needed. From then on, I started running, slowly, surely...I became a runner. I fell in love with it. I started entering 5ks and discovered I REALLY loved the racing environment.

Now here I am, five years into it, countless half marathons, 5ks, 10k's and 3 full marathons complete so far! Running has helped me discover so much about myself, it’s been my outlet, my comfort, my best friend. Not to mention the amazing friendships I have acquired through this sport! Some of my best friends I found through the running community. I am so incredibly thankful for hitting the bottom so many years ago because I may have never discovered this amazing sport and I don't think I would have ever truly discovered myself. When I say running changed my life, it really, truly did.

Running for Sanity by Jessica Hadley

I started running at the age of 31. Before then, my husband would run and he’d try to get me to go with him. I would make it a quarter mile and would be so out of breath I would feel like my lungs were collapsing. I grew up with asthma and even though it was controlled and I did fitness classes, running was something I just never thought I could do. One day, 8 months after I had my second son, my husband and I went to the gym and instead of taking a class I jumped on a treadmill next to him. I told him I wouldn’t make it far, and put it on 5.0 mph to start; I increased to about 5.6 mph during that run and ran 3.64 miles. It was honestly at that moment where I was hooked. That was February 22, 2015 and I have never looked back. Before I even ran a real 5k, I found out that the Detroit International Half Marathon in October happened to fall on my 32nd birthday that year and I signed myself and my husband up. I put down that I would finish in 2:30 minutes because I thought I would run/walk the entire thing.

I finished that half in 2:02 and was over the moon happy! What I thought would be a one-and-done thing has turned into now 9 half marathons finished and 2 full marathons finished with two more this year.

What I have learned about myself is that as a Mom I can still have something for me and how badly I needed it for my sanity. I’ve also learned that you are NEVER too old to dream a new dream or set a new goal in life. I wake up 4 days out of the week at 3:45am to train and do a long run on Saturday. Running has brought a consistency into my life when everything else is crazy with work/life balance. I use to think I couldn’t run because I couldn’t breathe, but learning how to control that aspect and believing in myself has been a valued lesson that I can grow from and teach my two young sons. Never stop growing, never give up on yourself, and push through pain because if you want something bad enough you can get there.

Running Saved My Life by Chris Yarberry

Running… is... magic. I usually start to feel that magic after mile 6 and beyond, and it’s why I run long distances. It’s why I’m contemplating my first 50K this year, and dreaming of running a 100-mile race someday. But you couldn’t have told me that before I hit my bottom. I started running to replace an addiction that nearly destroyed my life. I used to chase the feeling alcohol gave me, until I realized that it would kill me if I didn't put it down. So I walked through the door of a 12-step recovery program in 2012 and I started running the following spring. I felt like I needed a new hobby for this new healthier lifestyle. I liked running and so I started on the treadmill with ACDC and Led Zeppelin, doing 3 to 5 mile runs. Before long, I was running longer distances outside and signing up for a race. I crossed my first big finish line (LR Half Marathon) in 2014 and I have been running ever since. With the exception of one short relapse, I have maintained sobriety thanks to the love and support of my wife, my family, my program and RUNNING.

Running literally saved my life. I'm celebrating my 5-year runniversary this month. Running is my go-to solution for all of my problems; the stresses of life and the magic that I find out there on a run is my new addiction. If I'm stressed out, I go for a run. When I feel good and want to celebrate? Go for a run! When I feel helpless to change the world for good? I run hard. Distance running has made me a stronger, better person and has polished the raw patience I was gifted with at birth. #RejoiceWeConquer

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