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Jen’s Ode to Running

While I’m caught in no-computer-limbo, Jen graciously volunteered to guest post for me. I’m very excited about this post, because it’s going to kick off a new series here on Health on the Run!

For those of you that don’t know, Jen is currently training for 2 marathons and hopes to qualify for Boston this fall. She’s one of my favorite runners and her passion for the sport is contagious. But every runner has to start somewhere — most of us weren’t actually born running. Which is why I asked her to write a post about her path to becoming a runner, and how it has become such an important part of her life. In other words, I asked her to write her own Ode To Running.

Hi, Health on the Run Readers! I’m Jen from This Runner’s Trials. Lauren asked me to guest post for her, and since she is one of my favorite bloggers and friends, I jumped at the chance :)


Running is my most treasured passion, and it’s how I define myself. But this wasn’t always the case.

I didn’t set out to become a runner and I have no weight loss success story. My love affair with running was not pre-meditated. In fact, I never saw it coming.

I joined the track team freshmen year of high school because I was sick of softball. My favorite part of that sport was running the bases. Becoming a sprinter seemed like a natural fit for me.

I ran short distance for 4 years, and was pretty decent at it. I loved going fast, enjoyed hanging out with my friends, and there were hot boys on my team. What more could a teenager ask for?

But I was also plagued by shin splints. I couldn’t run for more than 2 laps around the track (a half mile) without feeling intense pain. I never ran an entire mile continuously my whole track career.

In college, I tried out for the crew team. I made the team and was pretty decent. I loved the feeling of being on the water, competing, hanging out with my friends, and checking out the hot guys on the men’s team (my boy craziness worked out for me; I eventually married a teammate).


Rowing and I were a match made in heaven. Except for one part of it: running. Sometimes we had “land” workouts where we’d have to run for 3 miles or so. I couldn’t do it… because of my shins.

I was sent to months of physical therapy trying to fix the problem. We eventually did (turns out I was running toe-heel instead of heel-toe because of my years as a sprinter). Even though the issue was solved, I was still terrified of running. I’d tell my coach my shins still hurt so I could do a different land workout instead. I was really just afraid of failing.

The summer between my junior and senior years of college- that all changed.

My mother got a call that a very close family friend was in a car accident and was left brain dead. He was on life support, and was going to be taken off that evening. We were going to the hospital as soon as my dad got home in a couple of hours.

I didn’t know what to do. I had never lost someone so unexpectedly. My heart ached for his wife and children. I told my mom I was going to workout. “Workout” meant I was going to the gym to use the rowing machine or elliptical.

But my car didn’t take me to the gym that day; it took me to my favorite park where I usually walked my dog. But for some unknown reason, on this day, I ran.

Sure my run was really a run/walk. I was in shape but not in running shape. I just enjoyed being alone with my thoughts.

For the next year, I continued to run. I ran a few days each week for 30 minutes to an hour each time. I had no idea how far I ran or what my pace was. And I didn’t really care.

Then some friends asked me to run a 10k race with them. I had no idea if I could run that distance, but I signed up anyway.


I ran it and had a ball. I finished the race in just over 51 minutes, won my age group, and took home a trophy.

I had never been so proud of myself. I spent my whole life being mediocre and was always just pretty decent at everything I did. But on this day, I was the best! (I even beat that crew teammate who turned out to be my husband 😉 )

But it wasn’t the trophy that made me so proud; It was the fact that I did something I never thought was possible. I assumed I couldn’t even run 10 minute miles, so running a 10k at a much faster pace filled me with so much joy.

Running helped me get through grad school, cope with family illness and made wedding planning tolerable. Running also made the good stuff better. The day I landed my first real job, I had one of the best runs of my life.


Running brings me clarity and boosts my self-esteem. I don’t settle for being mediocre anymore. I now pour my heart into everything I do, because running has shown me that with hard work anything is possible.


Not too long ago, I was the girl who couldn’t run a mile. Now, I’m the girl who runs marathons and dabbles in triathlons. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

Thank you so much Jen, for sharing your running story! If you’re interested in hearing more about Jen and her trials, I encourage you to check out her awesome blog This Runner’s Trials.

Finally, I am putting out a call to runners of all shapes, sizes and speeds to help me spread the love of running! If you’ve got a running story and you’re interested in contributing to the Ode to Running series, please send me a message through the blog or email me at lauren [at] healthontherun [dot] net. You don’t have to be training for a marathon or competing in triathlons to be a part of this. I firmly believe that if you run, you are a runner. Period. It doesn’t matter if you run 1 mile a week or 100, if running has impacted you in some way, I’d love to hear your story!

16 Responses to Jen’s Ode to Running

  1. What a series! What a post! OMG I am so inspired!!! You two are some of my fav running blogs so I really love this idea. Jen your story is so heartfelt, you are such a good writer.
    “Running brings me clarity and boosts my self-esteem. I don’t settle for being mediocre anymore. I now pour my heart into everything I do, because running has shown me that with hard work anything is possible.”
    Its so true. Last week I gave up during my long run. This week I finished 20. Thanks for the inspiration girls!
    Lizzy´s last post ..Eggplant Galore

  2. This is a great series! I found you through a comment you posted at “A Food Stays Fit.” I’m currently training for my first marathon (Chicago, which is next weekend) and wouldn’t mind contributing. But I know of someone who would be able to write an even more inspirational post. My college roommate’s brother-in-law. He’s going to be running his first marathon this weekend (Louis and Clark in MO). On his facebook page, he says “Two years ago this time, I weighed 450 pounds and made fun of runners. Today, I weigh 217, have kept off 230 pounds for about a year, and am excited to run my first marathon this Sunday. The Lewis & Clark Marathon is this Sunday and starts at 7:15 from Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and ends in Frontier Park in old-to…wn St. Charles, at the Lewis & Clark statue. My goal is to finish inside of 4.5 hours, but I might pull off a stretch goal of inside of 4 hours, so anywhere from 11:15 to noon. I surprised myself with how dedicated I became training for this event, even sacrificing Cardinal games (even when they were playing well) and running in the 100-degree heat of the summer. Having my gallbladder out a few weeks ago didn’t stop me either. This race has been about the only thing I’ve been thinking about all week. I am so excited and eager to finish. I picked up my packet, bib (# 1633), and t-shirt so now it’s just time to relax and get ready for Sunday morning. I know I am not the best at maintaining a FB page but look for more updates and pics after Sunday’s race. Thanks for all the support.”

    He lost all of the weight through hard work and sacrifice. No surgery or magic pills, just healthy eating and exercise. I can get in touch with him if you’d like to feature him on your blog.

  3. This was so inspiring, Jen! I love how running just kind of “found” you. That’s awesome :)
    Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries´s last post ..staples

  4. oh, I wrote my ode to running in my blog but it’s in Spanish (English is a second to third language for me, I’m Argentinian, I live in Buenos Aires), gonna give a shot at translation and send it to you

    Jen’s story is so inspirational I would go for a run right now if it wasn’t for the fact that I signed for a 5 k that starts in less than 12 hs

  5. Great post! Two of may favorite runners in one post!

    Jen – I love your story. Running is such an interesting sport and there is always a story behind the runner. Everyone shares the passion, but we’re all different, too. It’s exciting to read about how far you’ve come. Two weeks from the BQ!!

    Lauren – I am really excited about your “Ode the Running.” Need a story?
    Becky´s last post ..My Foot Hurts

  6. […] note: Are you interested to hear how I started running? Check out my Ode to Running on one of my favorite blogs, Health on the Run. Lauren, thank you so much for allowing me to guest […]

  7. awww I LOVE this! running is an amazing sport, I love that it allows each individual to find their our special nich with it! I hope you’ve been having a great weekend!
    Lizzy´s last post ..I tried a TRI…and I liked it!

  8. What a fabulous idea for a series! If I was a runner I would definitely contribute. Loved reading Jen’s post.
    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun´s last post ..living the highland life

  9. This is truly wonderful. I am at a point where running has been put to the backburner and it hurts my heart a little that I even let it do so. This post has really inspired me to change this now that I have some time off to focus on what I really love. Running is definitely one of those things and I need to fall in love with it all over.

    love hearing other runners stories, thanks ladies!

  10. Great story! I’d run for cute boys too (don’t tell my boyfriend lol)

  11. What an amazing story! I really enjoyed this post. Rowing, now that is a serious accomplishment as well. Beautiful story.
    Nichole´s last post ..Bould-er Expectations

  12. Great story! I love reading about other runners and how they got started. I think so many times non-runners look at runners and wish they could be a runner! I remember reading somewhere that really we are all born runners – just visit a playground and watch some kids playing – they never just walk, they are always running! But somewhere along the way we stopped running!

    I’d love to participate in your “ode to running.”

    Judi :)
    Judi´s last post ..Sunshine and Swimmers first 5K

  13. i never thought one blogger could inspire me so much!! i love you and this post really left a smile on my face. running is a sport that not only can motivate our own life and the changes in it, but it can create a community in which we can feed off each others growth and inspiration- all while proving to ourselves how strong and capable we are!! <3

  14. great guest post!!! i love reading stories like this. truly inspiring.

    i would love to participate in your ode to running!

  15. […] loathe when our coaches would make us run the cross country course (I was a sprinter). And later, when I first started distance running, I had a love/hate relationship with the park because I’d get frustrated when I needed walk […]

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