“Becoming a Runner” is an Ongoing Process

2011 Gina Relays 5k
Enjoying the race en route to tying my 7 year old 5k PR.

Hi there Salty readers. I’m Rosemary and I am thrilled to be a part of Salty Running! I first met Salty in 2007. We competed together on a team at the USATF XC Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio. As it turns out, my parents live pretty close to Salty, so I’ve been lucky to be able to run with her sporadically throughout the past 5 years.

My running history feels like destiny. My dad is an all-around athlete and competitor. He excels, nay, dominates in everything from badminton to beer pong.

Growing up, I played a lot of sports. I loved each one. In the 1990’s, childhood sports were quickly becoming competitive. As I think back to each of those activities, I reflect upon what I struggled with and what came naturally.  In gymnastics, I lacked the explosive muscle power to mount the apparatus effectively, but I loved the warm-ups and calisthenics. I lacked the flexibility for dance but loved the rhythm. In ice-skating, I placed last in just about every competition but I loved getting up early (before school) and going to the rink. Once softball switched from slow-pitch to fast-pitch, my only hope for getting on base was to step into a pitch. But if I made it to first, the next batter was just about guaranteed an RBI. In basketball, because I didn’t have the agility to play guard and I wasn’t tall or hefty enough to play power-forward. Yet, I could hustle with the best of them and I dare anyone, to this day, to challenge me to a wall-sit contest.

It all came to a head when I decided to try-out for the 7th/8th grade volleyball team as a 7th grader. I’d never played volleyball, but I was doing well in basketball (due to my hustling and scrappiness) and I knew many girls played both. Long story short, I didn’t make the team. I couldn’t serve the ball over the net. And forget about jumping high enough to spike it. Remember that bit about lack of muscle power? Yep, turns out you need a lot of power to be a good volleyball player. So I didn’t make the team and immediately asked my dad if I could do cross country instead. But the team had already had a few meets, so I waited until track season to try running.

Junior high track and field was less of a sport and more of a social activity. But while my teammates were cutting their intervals from six to four and walking during “perimeters,” I was soaking it all up. I tried it all- high jump, hurdles, long sprints, distance. This was my element. I did fairly well at most of the events because I worked hard, but the longer the race, the better I fared. I continued to compete in cross country and track for a few years, but it wasn’t until the summer before my sophomore year of high school that I understood the concept of truly training. The idea that I could and would get faster and running would be easier if I did it consistently.

In my 15 years of running, I’ve been extraordinarily blessed to have been able to train consistently. I ran into two bouts of overtraining and one or two short-term injuries quickly learning that more isn’t always better and that recovery is instrumental to longevity. Until very recently, most of my downtime from running has been self-selected and for recovery purposes. My running fitness was at an all-time high in 2011. I ran my highest mileage and fastest times. I was training my guts out and loving every minute of it. I tried to extend my fitness and my season without the needed recovery and ended up on the disabled list. It was a three week downward spiral from peak fitness to walking with a limp. I felt searing pain from my instep to my heel and up to my inner ankle bone.

It hurts here. Image from http://posteriortibialtendon.org.

I’d run through mild plantar fasciitis in the past, but this was different. I was convinced I had broken or torn something in my foot.  I brushed it off and did my best to stay positive, but I knew in my heart that this injury wasn’t going anywhere quickly.

And it hurts here. Image from www.plantar-fasciitis-elrofeet.com.

Fast forward 6 months and I am on the comeback trail. It is an interesting dichotomy to absolutely LOVE every run, no matter how short, slow or hot, but also have zero confidence in my recovery, fitness, or potential. Three years after beginning to eye the Olympic Trials Qualifying standard, I am more intimidated by that goal than ever. But I’ve also learned to enjoy the process as much as the goal. So while I don’t know what the upcoming year of running will bring, I can be sure, I’m going to have fun.

After months on the DL, every run feels like this! Image via jumpintheair.com.
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I'm a pediatric physical therapist by day. Running mostly early am miles as I balance life as the mom of a toddler. With PR days in the past, my primary running goal is to be a lifelong runner. With 20+ years behind me, I still love the sport and I am truly grateful for every day I get to run.

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  1. Welcome Rosemary! I am glad to hear you are on the comeback trail and am looking forward to reading about you kicking some butt out there in 2012!

  2. So glad your foot is on the mend! And I am very grateful for you joining SR 🙂 Can’t wait to read and be inspired about your comeback while I take a little break from mine!