When people ask when I started running, I make a distinction in my answer. The distinction occurred in 2007 at age 39.
The fifteen years prior I ran, but there was no structure to it. I wasn’t following a plan, didn’t set any goals, had no purpose outside random decisions to go for a run. At best, I ran three times a week for less than 10 miles; I didn’t track it and wasn’t concerned about it. The thought of registering for a race never crossed my mind.
Around 2004 I began running more frequently. Still not tracking or challenging myself to add miles or distance. Just random jogs around the neighborhood. I don’t recall how I started getting considered a runner, but apparently folks around me got that impression. At that point, I wouldn’t have told people, “I’m a runner.”
Two things happened in 2007 that shifted everything. The first one was that I finished my masters degree, which I had started in 2003. While working fulltime, I had kept an average of 11 hours of classes each semester for four years. I had been going at a pretty intense pace. I distinctly remember sitting in my hotel room in New Orleans the week I was completing my last class and saying to myself, “I’m about to have a void in my life. I need to find something to fill it.” When I got home, I created intention to my running. No more randomness.
The second thing really propelled my running forward. And I didn’t see it coming. Two of my work colleagues entered triathlons. They decided they wanted to do a relay and invited me to be the runner. I remember pretty vividly the emotions of waiting at the stage exchange for the swim and bike legs to finish before I took off on the 5k. At that time, a 3.1 mile race seemed long. I had no idea about pacing, even if I could run that far without stopping. And God knows, I wasn’t going to be one of those walk/runners. I had so much to learn.
When I crossed the finish line of that 5k, I had become an intentional runner. My instincts to grow and challenge myself took over, and the rest is a history still unfolding. Another fifteen years have passed. I’ve ran dozens of races, raced in 26 states on the goal to run them all, and have averaged over 1,000 miles per year. These results reveal the power of intentions and invitations.
On this first day of 2023, what intentions would move your life forward? In your career, your family, your relationships, your finances, your spirit, your hobbies, your passions. What invitations you accept or extend would give those intentions a pathway taking you and others toward new heights and depths? A year from today, how would you like to reflect on your 2023 intentions and invitations?