I’m a runner. I can’t believe I am writing it (much less saying it) if I’m honest.

I’ve been in good shape on and off throughout most of my adult life thanks to activities like weight lifting, tennis, biking, walking, swimming, and skiing. But, running? Absolutely not. In fact, I’d sworn it off so many times just because I couldn’t stand it, nor wrap my head around why do it. Until now.

Early in 2017, I needed to get myself back in shape after realizing that I had become a “woman of a certain age.” To be honest, I’d gotten lazy with my fitness, and had let my head take over; I found myself listening to falsehoods from inside my own mind about my weight (gain), my perceived inability to be in shape (never again), and anxieties about not feeling strong.

I put myself on a healthy eating plan, got back to the gym (which I know and love), and started warming up on the treadmill… for 1 minute (heavy, heavy, heavy breathing.) Eventually, that grew to 3, then 5, until a few months later I had jogged, albeit slowly, 20 minutes. What?!!!

Fast forward until now, where I just ran a 5k race in 26:25, came in 2nd in my age group, 20th out of 73 women. Yes, I am back in shape, feel great and have learned about running into leadership and mostly teamwork.

Running is written about ad nauseam, as I have found out. But running has helped me discover some important things about myself in this last year of change. More importantly, I realized that life offers us endless possibilities including:

  • I have no limits. What I thought I would never do, I now do, somewhat easily.  
  • I only race myself. Can I stay with it? Can I improve my last time? Can I finish strong? 
  • I can join a group and not be in charge. A huge shout out to the Ladies of Run on Hudson Valley, who took me in as a novice and never leave me behind. 
  • I can be last and be ok. My running club, Taconic Road Runners, are super fast and I am dead last in our weekly speed training sessions. And I’m okay with it (really, I am!). 
  • I can be a leader. Through my somewhat obnoxious posts about my running, I have inspired friends, colleagues and others to do things they never imagined doing – one friend has done a triathlon, another took a skydive.  
  • I can be a team member. I have spent most of my life leading, rather than being “on the team.” I have learned that being a part of the team and following is actually quite amazing, and just as important as leading.

I’m not going to lie: I’m competitive. I like winning my races and placing in my age group when I can, and as other avid runners will identify with, I have become a bit obsessed with beating my own personal bests. As I recently penned a very open and vulnerable post about my scarf color, running helps with my mental health. It frees me to be incredibly in the moment and keeps me feeling capable and strong.

I am so grateful I went from “no way” to “yes, I can” with running. I would be missing out on the camaraderie of the group runs, the energy and excitement of the races, and the freedom of a solo run, whenever and wherever.

Any time there is an opportunity to expand my experience with leadership and teamwork, I take it. I am a strategic advisor and coach to CEOs and other senior level executives. What and how I expand my own experiences with leadership and teams matters. And, it doesn’t always happen in the boardroom or around a table with a discussion on increasing revenues. Sometimes you can run  into it right out your front door.