I subscribe to the theory that if we expect our horses to be athletes, we must be athletes ourselves. Over the years I have done dance, yoga, Pilates, weights, hiking, and biking. I have never been a runner. I have always felt limited by my bad ankles, and I have never enjoyed it. Ten years ago I broke my back getting thrown off a horse, and that gave me further excuse. Even as a kid, having to run the mile for gym, I would stop and walk and was always one of the slowest runners. One of my friends said of me, "if you ever see Collette running, don't ask questions, just run that same way!"
That was until I met my boyfriend. He is an ultra runner (running distances over a marathon) and a race director. Every year he directs the Destin Beach Ultra runs, which benefits the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. I have seen him train for races, and saw him reap the benefits of training in regards to his fitness. So, when he challenged me to do a 24 hour event at the 6 days in the Dome race he is putting on, I accepted. I had begun running at the point, and had already done a 10 mile trail, the Old Glory Trail Trot. So of course, I had been running less than a year, and have never even done a marathon - why not run an ultra marathon? I am turning 36 while we are in Alaska for the race, so my goal is to do 36 miles. I am doing it as a fundraiser for the Old Glory Legacy Foundation, which supports military families by providing a place for outdoor recreation, including horseback riding. The foundation director also just happens to be one of my best friends! If you are interested in pledging me, please comment below.
I have a lot to learn when it comes to running, but I am making gains. I have a running coach who has me running 6 days a week, with long runs on the weekend. I just completed 15 miles today, with the help of my friends who run the Southern Pines Ultra running club. I have found that it is much easier to run with friends. It keeps my mind occupied and I end up pushing myself more. When running alone I really have to watch that my thoughts do not turn negative, as this really affects my running. I am not to the point where I enjoy it yet, so it is easy to start thinking about how hard it is, how much I hate it, and how I would rather be doing something else. It is much better to use this time to think productively, solve problems and come up with creative solutions, or even just clear your mind. This gives me more energy on my runs too.
Once the race is over, I do plan to continue running, but I am going to come up with a more flexible schedule and make sure it is a social time for me. I like the benefits my body is seeing from the increase in fitness, and I definitely have more energy. I will probably join the Ultra running club and do a long run with them on the weekends, and do more cross training during the week. My ultimate goal is to increase my fitness to improve my riding, and to look my best on a horse!