Running Makes You Stronger. Period.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! The weather kind of sucked here in NJ (except for Monday), but I did get to spend some time in Atlantic City and catch a Third Eye Blind concert…I’ve been obsessed with them since middle school, and pretty much stalk them every time they come around!

It probably sounds kind of strange, but despite the fact that I’m a blogger and basically broadcast my life all over the Internet on a weekly basis, in “real life,” I’m actually a pretty private person. I tend to keep to myself, and have a hard time sharing my feelings with others…and that includes my family and closest friends. But I am a writer…so stick me in front of a computer, and it all just comes pouring out.

Still, writing this particular post is going to be a little difficult for me, and yet, I feel as though I can’t continue posting with my own special brand of candor and honesty here without at least mentioning that I’m going through a really tough time right now.

I promise, this will not be a “woe is me” kind of post. Instead, it’s something I need to share because it’s a major life change…and my personal weight loss and running journey factor directly into how I’m dealing with it all.

2001

2001

My boyfriend and I have broken up. Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t go into all the sordid details, but suffice it to say that the outcome of our almost 12-year relationship (we were high school sweethearts) has been looking pretty grim for quite some time. We’ve been struggling with various issues for years, and this was honestly the only course of action that was left, unfortunately…I think ending things might even do us both a lot of good.

Since we lived together, it’s hard to say we’re “broken up” when I can sit in my apartment and still see a lot of his clothing and movies and books still lying around, or his posters hanging on the wall or countless framed photos capturing all of our happiest moments, from high school proms to college graduations to vacations and trips (including, of course, our various jaunts to Disney World).

2007

2007

It’s also hard for me because I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the loss of a person who has been in my life for over a decade. He has been there for me through it all…he was my shoulder to cry on when I lost my beloved grandparents, my support system when I began losing weight (for the final time) on Weight Watchers, my cheerleader when I saw my very first published byline in a magazine and crossed the finish line of my first race, the best friend I could always turn to for a laugh or to vent or to hang out and do absolutely nothing.

Needless to say, I am heartbroken. Anger, disappointment, shock, hurt, devastation, disbelief, sadness, rage…you name it, I feel it. I don’t want to be melodramatic, but obviously, this is the man I pictured myself marrying and building a home with and having kids with and growing old together. I desperately wanted all of those things…and I’d thought he was “the one” since I was 16 years old. But right now, let’s just say I have amassed ample evidence to suggest that he simply does not feel the same way about me. And maybe he never truly did. I don’t really know.

2013

2013

There’s nothing I can do about any of this except to learn how to cope. For the first time in my life, I have to learn how to be on my own. And I can’t help but think that there was a time in my life when all of this would have utterly crushed me. I used to hate the sight of my morbidly obese body, and had managed to convince myself that I was worthless. That I had nothing to offer the world. That I was destined to be miserable forever.

There was a time in my life when something would upset me — the bullies at school, a fight with a friend, a bad grade, you name it — and my first (and only) response would be to grab a handful of Oreos or dive headfirst into a bag of Doritos. Eating was how I coped with life’s disappointments, and it was the only thing that could soothe me.

Today, however, I know that no matter what happens — even something as devastating as the end of a relationship in which I’ve invested nearly half of my life —  I will survive. I know that I will be okay. And I’m convinced that running has a lot to do with that.

Losing 90 pounds (and, more importantly, keeping it off) has empowered me to believe that you can change your life, and that your health and happiness are worth fighting for.

My love of Thai Kickboxing and Taekwondo have taught me that, at heart, I amthaifront truly a fighter, and that I am disciplined and motivated enough to achieve anything I want in life.

But when it comes to running…that’s what forced me to realize that I am so much stronger than I ever thought possible.

Any runner knows that our sport can be just as much mental as it is physical, and training my body and my mind to endure 5Ks, then 10Ks, then half marathons — when I used to be someone who would avoid stairs at all costs, and found all of my personal pleasure from raiding the refrigerator — has proven in no uncertain terms that I am STRONG. I transformed myself from an overweight high schooler who physically couldn’t complete the mile in gym class to an adult who runs 13.1 miles like it’s no big thing. I slowly but surely changed absolutely everything about my life, and taught myself how to live as a healthy, active person.

And that’s how I know I can handle anything life throws my way. When life knocks me down, I know I have the courage and tenacity inside of me to get right back up again. I am not a quitter, and I don’t let anyone else dictate my sense of self-worth.

I do believe running has changed the person I am, both inside and out. After the years of torment I endured as an obese child and teenager to the countless failed dieting attempts to hitting rock bottom as a 265-pound 22-year-old, I feel as DSCF3043though running has given me and my entire journey a purpose.

I believe I was meant to discover running as my way of finally making peace with my body, and as a way to love and celebrate the person I am. I feel so incredibly grateful to have found something that fulfills me and gives me a sense of well-being — no matter what happens in my life, I know that I can always reach for my running shoes.

So, in conclusion…I’m going through a tough time right now. And it has hurt me. But I will not let this crush me.

After all…I’m in training. Three months until the Dumbo Double Dare!

Has running ever helped you through a tough time?

In what ways has it changed your life?

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29 thoughts on “Running Makes You Stronger. Period.

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I’m am truly sorry for your loss. Running has helped me with so many things, when I’m angry, sad, happy, confused, or whatever, running is there! Don’t forget that you are not doing this alone, the whole running community has your back!

    • Thank you so much. You’re so right — one of the best things about becoming a runner was the community that comes with it, and I SO appreciate the support…especially in times like these. Thank you, again!

  2. Very well written and insightful about you personally. Running is certainly a metaphor for each of our lives. We only see the benefit of what we put into it. Allowing ourselves to push our limits in running can translate into the allowance to push our limits in life. Once we know we can do something, then anything seems possible.
    I wish you luck on this journey of self discovery and new chapter in your life. I’ve been through something similar, so I’m here if you would like to talk.

    • Hi Lena, thank you so much for your kind words. You could NOT be more right. I never knew what I was capable of achieving until I learned how to push myself out of my comfort zone…and running has forced me to do just that! Likewise, it has made me see that I am stronger than I could have ever imagined — and that even the worst happens, it will ultimately make me even stronger. I may just take you up on your offer to talk, I could use all the perspective I can get right now. I really appreciate your support!

  3. Eat Pray Run, DC

    So sorry to hear about your tough time – running has definitely helped me through some difficult situations. I remember about a year and a half ago, my then boyfriend and I got in a HUGE fight. The next morning, I woke up, put on my sneakers and ran 5 miles. It helped clear my head. Between running and prayer, I am by far a better person. Hope that through this process, you’ll be able to emerge on the other side stronger and happier!

    • Thanks so much. I know exactly what you mean. Let’s just say I’ve been doing a whole lot of running/kickboxing lately! There’s nothing that has been helping me to sort through this mess more than heading out for a run. I really am so grateful to have something in my life that I can rely on to help me get through something like this.

  4. Wow, beautifully written. I believe this post has made feel the full spectrum of human emotion in just about the 5 min it took to read. I am so sorry for what you are going through right now, but you are SO strong already realizing that no matter how hard anything is, it won’t crush you! You have a great spirit, Jennifer, never lose that!

    • Thanks so much, Lauren, I really appreciate it. I’ve gone through life letting so many factors (my weight, the mean kids at school, etc.) interfere with my happiness…so I know that I’ll figure out a way to get through this. It totally sucks, but I WILL survive! Thanks again for your support.

  5. Oh- I’m so sorry that you are dealing with such a painful loss and time of change!!!
    I’m glad that you do having running to keep you going!!
    Running has gotten me through numerous deployments (on the part of my husband) over the years! Hang in there and remember that you are strong!!!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad to hear running has helped you, too. That must be so hard, I can’t even imagine. I’m so glad we have something like this to help cope…and remind us of just how strong we are!

  6. I had tears in my eyes reading this, thank you so much for sharing. You ARE stronger and I know it has to hurt right now but you’re going to make it through. Keep your head up, girlie.

  7. Thank you, Jodi! I really appreciate it. I really wish this weren’t happening, of course…but it’s nice knowing that I’m strong enough to handle it. I figure if I can run a half marathon…I can survive anything.

  8. Thank you for sharing such a tough story. I’m so proud of you for choosing to not wallow in sorrow but instead focusing on yourself and continuing to get stronger. And whatever the outcome is, I hope that you can remember the years of joy you two had together.

    • Thanks so much, Megan — really appreciate your support! At the end of the day, this really all came down to me making the choice to put myself (and my happiness) first. No regrets, no matter what happens!

  9. kimmiepcft

    sending you some hugs ❤ ❤ ❤ You can keep doing what you are doing, it will get easier! Try to keep smiling, you really have the best smile 🙂

  10. Jennifer

    Jen, Hang in there. Remember that first mile you ran when you started as a runner (the one that you ran before you even knew that you were going to become a runner). It was hard, and at somepoint you said to your self “I can’t do this” but then you did. BELIEVE. Every day, every minute it’s just one foot infront of the other and next thing you know, you’ve gone miles. Earlier this year, when we were running Princess, I had a moment of doubt (ok maybe more than one). I looked around at each one of the amazing people we were running with and thought – each one of us has a story that brought us to this point, to this moment, to running through the castle and past the train. We have all struggled and yet we have each chosen to take one more step. Nope, it’s not easy, but we can do it. We are runners. You inspire me all the time (now I’m wondering how to pull of Wine and Dine) if there’s anything I can do, just say the word!
    Jen

    • Jen, thank you so very much for your kind words. It means more than you know, and I so appreciate your support! Thank you so much for the reminder, I needed it. I NEVER, EVER in a million years thought I could have run the Princess Half…or any half. Or a freakin’ mile! I had the same thought while I was running the Princess — knowing what I’ve been through, and how hard it was, you can’t help but think about everyone else’s journey and what it took for them to get there. So now I’ve hit a roadblock (no pun intended), and I know I’m strong enough to take another step forward.

  11. I’m sorry that you’re going through such a hard time, but it is wonderful and inspirational that you are pulling through it so strong! Running really is therapy. I recently lost my step-father and I can say that while I’ve felt the need to be strong for my mother, when I’m out running I really am able to release so many of my feelings. I don’t mean that when I go out running I bawl my eyes out, but when we’re out there on the road pushing to exhaustion, we are able to release so many different feelings. Running is without a shadow of a doubt a wonderful way to self-reflect, plan for the future, release anger, get rid of frustration and all of those things. I’m so glad that running has taught you to be strong – it will continue to teach you (and me) all kinds of lessons in inner and outer strength I’m sure!

    • Thanks so much Kristina. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I know exactly what you mean. I’m not out on the road crying my eyes out, but there’s something about running that helps me to see things clearly…and I always feel better when I come back. ALWAYS.

  12. You’re so brave to write about such a personal issue. I tend to be private about my most personal thoughts, feelings, and happenings. It’s probably nice, in this case, to know that you can do all of this via WORDS and have a loving audience that is listening.
    That said, I am so sorry about your pain and disappointment (among other things). You are right that you will survive this. You’d survive it eating Oreos and you’ll survive it running and loving yourself. I think choosing the latter is the right choice!

    • Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. It was definitely not easy to talk (write) about this this here, but it’s such a huge life-altering change that I felt I just had to share. And I can’t tell you how much all of your support has meant to me. It really is helping me through this!

      You are right. I’m trying to survive this in the healthiest way possible…and, to me, that means running! 🙂

  13. Jennifer–I’m a little behind in my blog reading, but just wanted to let you know that (even though we’re strangers) I’m thinking of you. We have lead very similar paths in life from the high school sweethearts to discovering running for heath, weight loss, & fitness. If you were married and this was happening, there would be support systems in our society to help you through a “divorce”; however, despite that you are practically married by “common law” in some states, you most likely will not encounter the same support system through the break up (if that is where it ultimately leads to…it may not). The pain is real, but whether you realize it or not, your weight loss journey and love for running have given you an inner-strength that you may have not had to call on yet. While other things in your life may seem like they’re crumbling down around you, don’t lose yourself or your love for running. You’ve overcome so much in life and have a wonderful life in front of you.

    • Hi Lori, thank you so much for your support. That’s really cool that we have so much in common. You’re so right — it definitely felt like a marriage, I can tell you that much! I am definitely summoning the inner strength that I developed along this journey, believe me. It hurts now, but no matter what happens, I know that I’ll be OK. Thanks again so much. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Getting Back to Business |

  15. Yikes-I missed this the first time. So sorry you are in this place, but just remember that things can and do happen for a reason. Running is the best anti-depressant to take you away and make you feel strong and we are all here for ya!

    • Thanks so much, Amy. I know you’re right — I keep telling myself that every day. And running is definitely helping! Thanks for your support, appreciate it. 🙂

  16. Lori

    Glad you’re back to blogging–missed you!

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