In April, I ran 90 miles, a distance greater than the total number of miles I drove in my car.
I am not a long-distance runner or a former high school track or cross country athlete. I am a wife, soccer mom, full-time nonprofit director working from home and a fitness nut. Amid social distancing measures for COVID-19, I found my gym closed. Running I could do, I knew, but I did not find I was excited at the thought. Cookies excite me … running not as much.
However, I am about pushing past my comfort zone, getting uncomfortable and seeing what results I get to create. In the past, I have run a few half-marathons and enjoyed the process of rising to the challenge. But my last serious running goal was over 10 years ago when I was, you know, 10 years younger and my knees and ankles were also 10 years younger. Yet here I was on Facebook on April 1 and the idea came to me — run — and I put it out there. I PUT IT OUT THERE!
So I headed out the door in chilly weather — I hate running in cold! — with my son’s old Spider-Man stocking hat on and put in a few miles that first day. No headphones for entertainment, no plan as some people reached out to me and asked what my daily run schedule would be like. Um, I am making this up as I go along.
Here’s what I learned:
The activity cleared my head, the runs challenged me to stay true to my goal, “Spider-mom runner” made people smile, there was beauty out there in the world that I missed when not running — birds singing, the joy in watching spring flowers grow, the cute puppies being walked by new owners, the bright and cheerful sidewalk chalk messages left by others such as “We can and we will.” In 30 days, I learned I could get through runs I didn’t feel like doing by waving at passing cars and smiling at them. I ran in the rain, snow, 25-mph winds and perfect calm. I ran early in the morning, midday and in the evening. I ran when I wanted to and even when I didn’t, when I felt sore and when I caught the “runner’s high” (which rocks, by the way).
I regretted not one mile.
As I shared this journey on Facebook, I had others mention they were starting to be active because they enjoyed reading about my goal. That was a huge surprise! I am not an inspirational athlete, just a regular person seeking a way to get my fitness fix each day but in a new way with quarantine in effect. My heart soared because I get filled up serving others. My running goal was no longer just about me but about others. My son asked me each day what I was going to run and how it was. We talked about how you sometimes do things that are hard because you learn along the way.
In the end, I ran 92.5 miles. I wrote at least 20 Facebook posts on my journey, also something I have never done before. Dozens of people supported me. I improved my health. I inspired at least a half-dozen others to move more or tackle something they’ve never done.
By setting one goal and achieving it, I created a community and fulfilled another goal of mine to put goodness and support in the world.
Just with tennis shoes and a Spider-Man hat.
And I will add in a few miles of running. Likely with that Spider-Man hat on. So, it’s May, and I’m doing it again. This time I made multiple goals and put them out there. I’m writing regularly about them and what I am learning. Giving a piece of myself in this way feels right and true. I can’t wait to see what surprises are part of this journey.
-Suzanne Behnke - Hello! I am a mom on a mission to have my family thrive, and I am a journalist on a mission to save local news.