"Never ask me to run! Ever." That was my staunch declaration 17 years ago, as I introduced myself to my then-colleague and soon-to-be husband, humorously adding, "The only way you'll see me running is if I'm about to miss the last train."
Fast forward to today, and here I stand at 45 years old, a mother of three incredible kids, and a self-proclaimed running addict. How on earth did this transformation occur, you ask? Well, buckle up, because I'm about to take you on a personal and fun-filled journey through my seven-year evolution from gym-avoider to running enthusiast.
The Gym Escape Artist
My journey into the world of running began seven years ago, driven by my growing dissatisfaction with barely used gym memberships. I longed for a more flexible workout routine, something fresh and exciting, and, most importantly, a slice of "me time" where I wouldn't have to respond to the constant cries of "Mommy, have you seen my socks/doll/book?" Armed with determination, I slipped on my running shoes, leashed my loyal dog, and embarked on what I believed would be the pinnacle of my fitness journey.
The Hilarious Start
My initial foray into running was nothing short of laughable. Picture this: I'd run for a grand total of one minute, followed by a five-minute walk, and this cycle of torture continued until I was sure I'd experienced death a thousand times in between. This painful routine persisted for two grueling weeks. However, a glimmer of hope appeared as I managed to run for a whopping three minutes and walk for two. Then, three weeks in, I achieved a milestone that I'll forever cherish: I ran a full 3 miles without stopping. It was a moment of triumph that filled me with immense pride. From that point onward, I was unstoppable. I maintained a thrice-weekly running schedule, progressively upping my distances and improving my time. The most surprising revelation? Even on those mornings when I groggily dragged myself out of bed at 5 a.m. for a run before my bustling day as a working mom, I found myself brimming with more energy than if I'd chosen a lengthier slumber. I was hooked, addicted to the euphoria of the runner's high, and I yearned for it more and more. In hindsight, I realized that conquering my initial skepticism about running had opened a world of possibilities. I had unwittingly stumbled upon newfound energy and a belief that nothing was beyond my reach.
Reconnecting with My Body
One of the most unexpected gifts of my running journey was the reconnection with my body. As women, we often lose touch with ourselves amidst the roles of motherhood and being a wife. Running brought me face-to-face with my muscles, improved my posture, and taught me the intricate mechanics of my own body. It was like rediscovering a long-lost friend. Running gave me back my body, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
The Recovery Oversight
In my fervor for running, I made a significant oversight – recovery. I had underestimated the power of recuperation in my fitness journey. It wasn't until I embarked on a significant career shift, transitioning from the corporate world to becoming a reflexologist and body therapist, that I truly grasped the importance of recovery.
The Professional Pivot
My career shift led me into the realms of energy, inner healing processes, and the intricate connection between our organs and recovery, both emotional and physical. This newfound knowledge came relatively late in my running journey, after I had racked up a weekly mileage of 25 miles. It was around this time that stress injuries in my foot and persistent knee pain during long runs threatened to derail my marathon training.
The "Aha" Moment
I began meticulously analyzing both my excellent and not-so-great runs, hoping to uncover the secret behind my performance. The revelation was crystal clear: sleep, muscle recovery, and bodywork were the game-changers. Now, I've always been a dedicated sleeper – taking daily naps and giving my husband fair warning that three consecutive nights of poor sleep could turn me into a formidable grouch. Consequently, I embarked on a mission to enhance the quality of my sleep.
The Quest for Quality Sleep
From a sleep perspective, I experimented with various combinations: foot baths, meditation, and even melatonin. However, melatonin left me feeling dizzy upon waking and sluggish throughout my run. Despite the availability of effective tools, they didn't work for me in the long run.
Embracing the Unexpected: CBD
Fed up with the constant back-and-forth between natural and manual techniques and anti-inflammatory painkillers, I decided to venture into the world of CBD. Coming from Europe, where such products were uncommon and controversial, I took the plunge. To my astonishment, it was a game-changer. I started with The Sleep Recovery CBD oil from Yellow Athletic, and it transformed my nights, my runs, and my overall mood. I found the dose that works perfectly for me.
The Warming Stick: A Revelation
Another product that caught my attention was the warming stick. Initially, I applied it to my knees before each run and was delighted by its comforting aroma. Beyond the pleasant scent, it genuinely eased joint discomfort, allowing me to run without debilitating pain. More recently, I've incorporated it into my post-run routine. Applying it to my knees, ankles, and feet before indulging in a recovery-focused self-reflexology session has worked wonders. It soothes any discomfort, making my feet more receptive to the massage than ever before.
Gratitude to My Body
In closing, my seven-year journey from a gym-averse skeptic to a passionate runner has been a wild ride filled with surprises, challenges, and unexpected discoveries. Running revitalized my body, enriched my life, and shattered my preconceived notions about what I could achieve. It reminded me that even the most stubborn beliefs can be overcome with that first brave step.
Our bodies are the vehicles on this material journey, and it's our responsibility to care for them and learn from them. I'm profoundly grateful to my body for allowing me to feel, love, give birth, walk, run, lift weights, and even breathe and digest without requiring constant attention. Now, it's my turn to help it achieve what it's meant to do: move!
About the Author:
Belinda’s clinic in San Francisco, Wellify, offers holistic reflexology treatments tailored to her clients'' individual needs. She helps her clients relieve stress, stimulate lymphatic circulation, and improve mental and emotional well-being through reflexology. She recognizes the necessity of promoting health and well-being through the profound power of touch and the body's intrinsic ability to heal.
Originally from France, she spent time in London, then Barcelona (where she welcomed three amazing kids), then Brussels before landing in San Francisco. A place she and her family feel at home and plan to stay.
Belinda became an avid runner at 37. Running opened up a whole new world for her and sparked a deep fascination with the body, its muscles, and its incredible ability to heal and restore itself.
After spending 15 years in the corporate world, she decided to pivot and follow her newfound passion. She dove into the world of body therapy, earning certifications in reflexology from Brussels and deep tissue massage from San Francisco. Her mission is all about helping people tap into their body's innate wisdom and remarkable capacity for self-restoration.
Learn more about Belinda’s practice here.