Today I’m going a few easy miles with Gretchen Schoenstein,who was told 10 years ago that she’d never run again.
Fast forward to today, and she recently finished her 10th race of 13.1 miles of 2016, and the 53rd of her career.
Gretchen’s First 13.1
Gretchen has had issues with auto-immune diseases for most of her life, and after a serious flare up she was told she really shouldn’t think of running in her future.
At the time, Gretchen wasn’t much of a runner so she didn’t mind that diagnosis very much.
However, after 4 years of living in fear of another flare up she decided she didn’t want to live life cautiously anymore.
Despite the objections of her doctors, Gretchen signed up for a half marathon.
She was only planning on running the one, but 53 races later and she’s still going strong.
Living and Running with Auto-Immune Disease
In the 6+ years that Gretchen has been running, she has had to be hyper focused on taking care of her body to try to prevent a flare up.
While flare ups can never be prevented 100%, she has learned how to be proactive in her training and with her lifestyle to keep the flare ups in check.
Between monitoring her diet, prioritizing cross training, incorporating yoga, acupuncture, and a whole host of other preventative measures she’s able to keep going one day at a time.
And while running was feared by her doctors 6 years ago, Gretchen thinks that running may have actually helped her body to be stronger and to limit the flare ups of her disorder.
Running at Night
Gretchen recently participated in a night race for the first time. And as it is with most runners, it was a different challenge for sure.
The Rock and Roll Las Vegas race, her 53rd race, was her first non-morning race.
Between the change in routine, being more tired later in the day, spending time on her feet throughout the day, and a whole host of other factors this wasn’t Gretchen’s greatest race.
I asked if she’d ever run a night race again, and she said she would but thinks she’d rather do it some place other than Vegas. Because, well, Vegas.
Stop with “Half”
Gretchen is writing a book that will likely be released in early 2017, and when we were talking about the book we started talking about the word “half” as it relates to the half marathon distance.
In her experience as a runner, she’s often heard runners talking in a condescending tone when it comes to comparing the half marathon to the full marathon.
While a half marathon distance is obviously half of the distance of a full marathon, one isn’t half of the race as the other. Each race is it’s own beast, and running each distance is demanding in and of itself.
So stop talking down to other runners that are running 13.1 miles instead of 26.2. Stop asking if they are “only” or “just” running a half.
And most importantly, if you ever catch yourself saying you’re “only” or “just” running a half, stop.
There is nothing “only” or “just” about running 13.1.
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