I have someone awesome to introduce today! My friend Lauren, who ran and conquered (and BQ’d!) the Bayshore Marathon with an inspiring, unconventional, and yoga-filled journey to the start line.
I met Lauren five years ago at CMU because we were in the same small group that traveled to Atlanta to work with youth and refugees with the alternative breaks program. We became friends instantly, and she was the one who convinced me to coach Girls on the Run and to join the Club Running @ CMU team, two of the best experiences I had in college. I remember her giving the best pep talks ever, whether to our college team before a meet or to our 3rd and 4th graders on a particularly challenging day.
She is an extremely talented runner who, after a lion’s share of injury, re-channeled her athleticism from running to yoga. Her training for the Bayshore marathon was rather unorthodox, and I was thrilled when she agreed to write a guest post about her experience with it all.
Take it away, Lauren!
I’ve always enjoyed pretty much everything about the sport of running…being out in nature, the running community, the endorphin release, and the satisfying feeling of accomplishing a goal. I know many runners can agree with this. They can also understand the frustration of an injury and how it leaves you feeling as if something is significantly lacking in your life.
A couple years ago I finally reached my breaking point. I had invested significant time, energy, and money into reoccurring injuries and my recovery was always minimal or short lived. I decided to quit physical therapy, give up the chiropractic adjustments, pull out the orthotics and shoe lifts, and once and for all stop foam rolling, icing, and popping anti-inflammatory pills as if it was going to make any difference. This decision didn’t come without a strong fight. It didn’t come without tears and restless nights over the thought of no longer being a “runner”. Losing running not only meant losing my personal form of exercise and stress relief, but also my social community, my team.
Despite my decision to take a long and serious break, I was still in pain and I wanted to feel better. I also knew I needed to find some form of exercise in order to maintain my sanity. After eight years, I finally took up my mom’s offer to take yoga classes. I was going simply for rehabilitation purposes, nothing else. I wanted to steer clear of the spirituality and Namaste nonsense.
They say yoga should never hurt, but my initial memories are that it definitely did not feel good. In addition to the physical confusion I was putting my body through, I spent the majority of class lost and a little embarrassed by my lack of coordination and flexibility. This challenge though, kept me coming back. I noticed small progress here and there and soon found myself going four to five times per week. After a year, I began to notice a similar endorphin release to that of a runner’s high, I found a community, and sometimes I even practiced yoga outside.
Fast forward two and a half years, I found myself at the finish line of the Bayshore Marathon hugging my dad after running a Boston Qualifying time…a dream he and I have had since I was very young. I had a different training approach for this race than any other race in my life. It was to listen to my body, only run once per week (long run), eat clean, practice yoga daily, and most importantly to be grateful for each healthy day. I can’t offer you any scientific evidence behind this training. I can’t explain why or how it worked and I don’t really want to try. All I know is that I am the strongest I have ever been in my life, both physically and mentally.
There is not a specific moment in this journey where the practice became more to me than just stretching and injury prevention. I know enough about yoga now though to know that the transformation is incredibly gradual and unique to each individual. I now have a deeper understanding and know that “practicing” yoga is not just a series of postures, but rather your actions when you are off your mat. This practice, most definitely helped me through my physical injury. More importantly though it helped me to become present and let go of the past. It taught me to be non reactive in day-to-day situations. It constantly reminds me to practice gratitude in every moment and every situation.
On that note, I will leave you with this..a list of all the people I carried in my back pocket throughout the 26.2 miles, because all of them have carried me at some point of another. To each of these people, I am incredibly grateful.
- Troy Colt XC
- Chelsea Vonfintel
- SHA XC and T&F
- Girls on the Run teams and coaches
- Sharon & Shmu
- Coach Steele & Prowse
- Facemelters = S
- Bill Breen
- Niki & Justin
- CFY teachers – Dave Patterson, Nicole, Keli
- Blue Yoga teacher training group
- Club running at CMU
- Coach Matt
- Boston marathon victims & their families
- All my friends out there on the course – Karen, Lizzy, Emma, Chucky, Anna, Mr. Dinverno, Julia, Will, Alissa, Marie, Tom
Lauren’s parents on race morning
Lauren on the left, me on the right
Have you done yoga?