If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a runner. With that comes some common traits — many of which cause others to see us as “crazy.” Runners are an extreme bunch. We take an activity that is deemed “punishment” by most, and we make it our life. For some reason that’s slightly different for all of us, we need running. Without it, we are lost.
Valerie is no different.
Life happens to us all — and responsibility makes it harder and it seems to be moving faster at times. Valerie’s responsibility and life got in the way of her fitness. She became frustrated as her fitness declined and her self-perception slipped. Like many others, Valerie experienced a lifelong struggle with her weight and body image.
The struggles even included an eating disorder. “I had issues with overeating and then not eating enough,” she shared. But then someone who loved her stepped in. Twelve years ago in 2005, Valerie’s mother responded to her struggles. “My mom bought me a gym membership. I went to a few classes and started running on the treadmill. I wasn’t fast, but I enjoyed it a lot more than the classes in the gym. Eventually, I thought I’d like to try to run a 10k one day.”
Many beginner runners tend to get “the bug” early on in their journey. As we run more, we feel better. We crave the endorphins, so we strive to run farther and faster. Over time, a 10k wasn’t enough for Valerie. She wanted that marathon.
Experiencing Mixed Marathon Feelings
Valerie found success early on. She ran the 2006 Paris Marathon in 4:36. Then, she upped her mileage, aiming to record a faster time in 2007. With her eye on the prize, Valerie was looking for a massive payoff at her Paris Marathon in 2007. She spent months preparing, even running 60-mile weeks.
Race day came and went — only there was no payoff. She was shocked, dismayed, and stumped when her 2007 Paris Marathon time was a far slower 5:10.
“I was out of place. I didn’t know what to do. It was quite annoying, ” she recalls.
Desperate to improve but not knowing how, Valerie scoured the Internet for help. Her search for running-related strength training routines brought her to RunSmart Online. She began trying RunSmart’s kettlebell and BaseSix Bootcamp workouts. But new to the strength-based workouts, Valerie lost interest in cross-training and rarely did anything but run.
Running consistently but not seeing results, things went from bad to worse when she started to feel pain in her lower leg. Like so many of us at various points in our careers, Valerie was sidelined – and it was bad: double Achilles Tendinitis.
“Walking was hurting, sleeping was hurting, everything was hurting. I couldn’t do the kettlebell workouts anymore, I couldn’t do anything, ” she shares. Valerie took the injury seriously. She found a physical therapist who was also a runner and after some recovery got back to the kettlebell and BaseSix Bootcamp workouts with better discipline.
When working out wasn’t feasible, Valerie soaked up everything on RunSmart like a sponge, using all the information to gain every possible advantage against her injury.
“I looked at all the RunSmart articles. I did the injury test, I did the jumping test. It took 18 months – a very long time. Now, I’m running 4 times a week with a lot of cross-training.,” she adds.
Setting Her Bar High Once Again
Once Valerie’s ankles were back to reasonable strength, she was drawn back to the marathon. Four months ago, she completed the Stour Valley Marathon in 6:17. Even getting stronger, she never expected to get close to a 4 hour marathon again.
She continued to religiously practice RunSmart methods until it finally paid off.
Incredibly, she recently recorded a Personal Best of 4:13! Valerie promises herself that she will never overtrain again. She is stronger, happier, and healthier than ever. Running seems to provide the piece of the happiness puzzle Valerie has been looking for so long. Old demons have even been exorcised.
“I don’t know how, but all of a sudden, I’m not punishing myself with food. With running, I see food more as fuel than punishment. It took a few years but it’s the only thing that worked.”
Now confidently in control of her fitness and health, Valerie has begun taking new runners under her wing. An old friend of Valerie’s who had never exercised much in her life before is now getting fitter than she ever thought she could with Valerie’s help. She has even run a 10k of her own.
“My neighbor cried with me at the end, she was so happy. That’s what it’s all about. It’s good to have a PB, but it’s about helping people as well.”
Valerie exemplifies the success story we all strive for as runners. She’s achieved great progress not only physically, but mentally as well. She’s run 50 marathons and actually took third place for her age group at the Race for Life marathon this year!
And best of all, Valerie is inspiring new runners…