Not always a runner

As opposed to what some people think, I haven’t always been a runner. As a matter of fact, I have always liked sports, but I strongly disliked running in school! I was that girl who always found an excuse to do something alternative hehehe. But then I started rowing during my bachelors and without me knowing at the time, it was the start of my love for running!

As with anything I do, I dove head first into rowing. I LOVED it! It was my first experience with a team sport that didn’t require me shouting to team mates or handling a ball (not my strong suit!) and it felt great to be part of a group that had the same goal: getting better and enjoying it while doing it. I got selected for the first years Women’s 8, which is a students league. We trained 6 days a week and I couldn’t have been happier! I will go into my rowing adventures in another post soon.

On Mondays, we did running, as inexperienced students usually don’t do well with too many rowing practices. I loved running fast and always tried to stay with the guys. Running is fun! After about a year and a half, I stopped rowing and I turned to running more often. I joined the student’s running crew in Leiden, and that is where I met my best friend Alex. We ran together during the weekends and trained with the crew. At some point, I claimed that running a half marathon was on my bucket list.

Weeks went by and all of a sudden, Alexia asked me if I wanted to join her for the half marathon of Bordeaux. Well… I did say that running a half marathon would be really cool. So… I said yes, and booked us tickets to go to Bordeaux. Oh shit!

I had trouble training, it was winter, cold, I didn’t feel like it, I basically lost all motivation and just worked out in the gym. When the half marathon came closer, I ran my first 10k and I really did not feel ready for this half marathon! But, we got there and headed to the start together. A cool detail of the Bordeaux event, is that it’s a night run. You start with the last rays of sunshine (or rain, I’ve had some – a lot of – rain during the past two editions) and run into the night. The entire city is lit and it is just magical. I would definitely recommend doing it!

We ran, and ran, and ran, and it felt amazing. When we finished, I felt like I could do another 20k and I was experiencing my first runners high! So when we got home, I immediately signed up for the half marathon of Amsterdam, six months later. But as this was still far away, I started looking for shorter distances closer to home. I ran so many races over the past three years! Many half marathons, I think I am at 13 as we speak, and about 40 shorter distance races. Sometimes I would run a Saturday night edition and the Sunday edition as well, and I always loved it. The ambiance of a runners event is just amazing.

Everyone is always so friendly and whenever you go to a race by yourself, there’s always people to chat to! I’ve made so many new friends during these running events, it’s really special to feel so welcome in a sport. There’s plenty of sports where the ambiance is really nice and people support each other during events, that’s why I could never say there’s only running for me (but yes, it’s my favourite), but the running events feel extra special to me. Besides the fact that you can toe the line of a race that is also being run by someone who breaks a world records just minutes before you start, there’s no such thing as cheering against the other team. You race against yourself, and even if you never make to first place, there’s always the opportunity to win by improving your own time or helping (pacing) someone else towards theirs.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t call myself a runner, because I had some phases where I wasn’t too motivated and spent more time doing other sports than running. But I also realised, that running is part of who I am, and that makes me a runner. I am not the fastest, not the strongest, skinniest, tallest or any other -est, but I am me, and I run. I run to distract my mind from a hospital visit, and I run to celebrate achieving smaller and bigger goals. I became a runner!

Are you a runner too? Or do you like other sports? Or maybe you liked it in the past but took a little (or big) break from it? I am curious to hear your story! So tell me all about it below, on Instagram, or send me an email!

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