My Love Affair with Running

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Today has been one of those days when I’m eating like a “real person,” not a “food blogger.”  AKA I’m grabbing food from the kitchen like I’m not photographing the choices and putting them on the Internet for thousands of people to see.  :)  Whoops.  Don’t judge!


Post-nap cereal (Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Crunch):


And an entire box of Anne’s Mac and Cheese.  It started off as just a 1/2 a box…


But 30 minutes later, I was still hungry.


That’s what 16 mile runs do to a girl.


My Love Affair with Running


A few of you asked me to expand on my running journey.  I once briefly talked about it in this post.  I wrote:


I started to run in Spring 2006 after my BFF Lauren had an intervention with me about my unhealthy habits.  She is very blunt and something about the way she told me to shape up or shut up really affected me (in a great way; I owe her so much for her honesty).

I ran before work on the treadmill at the gym, doing the Galloway Method (walk/run/walk/run) and gradually decreasing my walk time.

And that was it — I started to run, and I was hooked.  Sure, it was hard (really hard!), but I kind of liked that it was hard because I could really see improvements in myself.  My eating cleaned up the more I ran because I could tell how eating crappy food affected my runs.  I also began to calorie-count (I don’t do this anymore) and portion-control my food, and I lost10 pounds over the course of a year or so.


But truthfully, there is so much more to the story.


I had a serious mental shift about life in general around the same time I started to run.  I touched on this change in this post.  I basically went from being a Negative Nancy to becoming the hopeful, optimistic person I am today.  Running was the physical expression of this emotional change.


I think a lot of women use running as a tool to change their lives – not just their physical appearance.  Running is a spiritual experience; it takes you to the edge of your capabilities and back.  It tests your mental stamina and your emotional strength.


I’d always been prone to freaking out about small stuff.  Throwing tantrums when I don’t get my way.  Crying when the going gets tough.  Running taught me that I could not do that.  I had to stay and fight or I would never improve. 


I tried to “pick up” exercise so many times before I began to run.  I’d tool around on the elliptical or half-ass lift weights.  But, it wasn’t until I found running that I realized it was about so much more than burning calories or looking cute in a bikini.  The sweaty toughness of my first attempt at running – I went 1/4 of a mile and stopped – showed me how far I could go. 


No one starts off as a great runner.  The people who see the challenge as an opportunity for growth are the ones that end up improving.  If you want to run, and it’s hard, spin that into a positive thing.  I always thought about how much I wanted to IMPROVE, not how little I could do at that moment.


Focus on the “I can” or “I will",” not the “I can’t.”


Run on,  my friends.   Run on!



  • Julie @savvyeats October 9, 2009, 1:26 pm

    I adore this post. It is so inspirational, and really speaks to a still-kind-of-a-beginner runner like me. I used to hate running, but I love it now!

  • Megan @ Megzz Wins At Life October 9, 2009, 1:33 pm

    I agree with you 100% Running can completely change your out look on things. It is tough in the beginning but it really is a feeling like no other when you complete those miles big or small!

  • Sara @ Activegal October 9, 2009, 1:39 pm

    I LOVE this post! You are SO right. Running to me has been the greatest and hardest thing I have EVER done. It is one thing you have to rely ENTIRELY on yourself for. It is the greatest feeling in the world to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles and I can’t wait to see what it feels like after 26.2 one day! Running can change your life – and WILL – if you truely give it all you have!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 9, 2009, 1:56 pm

    I am in ‘lust’ with running right now. I hope the relationship develops further.

  • Aggie October 9, 2009, 1:58 pm

    So good to read this…I’ve done 2 sprint triathlons so I know I am somewhat athletic, but running is my challenge. I haven’t run since May (the Danskin tri) and now I’m challenging myself to get back into it. I haven’t felt it yet though, still working on intervals and not running very far. It’s frustrating. This post was pretty inspiring to read. I know it’s more than a physical thing with me. Thanks for the post.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat October 9, 2009, 2:00 pm

    I would totally agree that running is a spiritual experience! I am so glad to hear what a positive impact it has had on your life. Way to go girl!

  • Jesse October 9, 2009, 2:02 pm

    Girl you need some protein after 16 miles! :)For your muscles to recover, and it will fill that bottomless pit feeling in your stomach too! I always need some good, solid protein in addition to the carbs after a long run…

    • Caitlin October 9, 2009, 2:06 pm

      ahh i know but nothing looked good except for mac and cheese LOL

  • Trish (girlatgym) October 9, 2009, 2:03 pm

    Great stuff!!

    I am not focusing on what I can’t do right now, but rather, I am looking ahead – I am focusing on where I am eventually going to be. I know I am going to get there and reach my goal.

  • Hallie October 9, 2009, 2:08 pm

    LOVE this becasue I feel like after a year of trying to run, I finally get it. I just wrote about how I felt after running 4 miles (if you remember, I linked to you) and your attitude about running is really inspirational to a “newbie” like me. I really think this time, more than any other exercise I’ve done, running is going to do something BIG for me, emotionally more so than physically. And that is an incredible feeling.

    Oh and that cereal looks like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, i.e. it looks AWESOME. I’m going to look out for it 😉

  • megan October 9, 2009, 2:09 pm

    YOU. ARE. AWESOME. I love how you describe your transformation from a Negative Nancy. I feel like running has given me a sense of accomplishment I haven’t experienced before.

  • Jenna October 9, 2009, 2:09 pm

    your body needs that whole bowl of mac and cheese because you just ran 16 MILES girl!

  • Anne Marie@ New Weigh of Life October 9, 2009, 2:29 pm

    Awesome post, Caitlin! I needed this today!

  • Lizzy October 9, 2009, 2:30 pm

    I love this post! you are so uplifting and i feel like everyone needs to hear that it is possible to accomplish something you set your mind to! running is such a wonderful thing, whether you run 10 miles at a time, or 2, its great no matter what! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness October 9, 2009, 2:32 pm

    LOL those are very normal foods! You’re eating like the rest of us today.

  • Diana October 9, 2009, 2:35 pm

    Aw, this was so nice to read. Good for you! 🙂

  • Lorraine October 9, 2009, 2:42 pm

    Thanks so much for following up on that Caitlin, that’s so great to read and such a great way to look at it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Tay October 9, 2009, 2:55 pm

    I love your story. And the fact that you ate an entire box of mac & cheese 🙂 Your story reminds me of the articles in Runners World where he ends it “Waddle on friends” hehe.

  • Ashley October 9, 2009, 2:59 pm

    Hey Caitlin, I was wondering if your legs or thighs feel swollen after longer runs? I feel like on any hard run that is an hour plus my things feel inflamed and swell up. Does this happen to you and if it does, about how long does it last for? Do you have any tips to reduce inflammation?

    • Caitlin October 9, 2009, 3:03 pm

      i would try icing and taking ibuprofen after you eat something. i dont think its a good idea to take lots of ibuprofen, but 200 mg or something would really help you. i would talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

      stretch it out, too!

  • Ashley October 9, 2009, 3:01 pm

    Also, one more ?, I know you count calories on your long run days, i do too, but it can be hard to eat it all back, on days when you burn 1000 calories or so what baseline do you aim for at a minimum (base + cal burned)

    • Caitlin October 9, 2009, 3:05 pm

      im definitely getting to the point where there is no way i can eat back my calories unless i start gorging myself on pizza and ice cream LOL which actually doesnt sound too bad. remember that you can make up your calories not just the day you run, but the day before and after, too.

      i would say i’m gong to shoot for 2800 today. i usually have 1800 to 2000 and i burned around 1200+. eating an entire box of mac and cheese definitely helped me reach that goal. LOL.

  • Madeline @ GreensAndJeans October 9, 2009, 3:22 pm

    Running is my way of proving that after all my body has been through (way too many injuries to list) it can still push it. You’ve also made me REALLY want mac and cheese….

  • Simone @ P:T October 9, 2009, 3:34 pm

    I currently have strep throat so I won’t be running today or tomorrow, but after reading your post, all I want to do is lace up my sneaks and hit the pavement so I can IMPROVE. Thanks Caitlin (I feel like that was a secret, unintentional Operation Beautiful”esque” msg you just sent to all of us bloggies!) 😉

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance October 9, 2009, 3:51 pm

    I swear it is like you took the “words right out of my mouth” in your post!!! I feel the EXACT SAME WAY! Running not only changed my body (helped me lose a 100+ pounds, I actually feel without it I would still have a lot more to lose, A LOT)…….but it would also changed me on the inside! I too am a different person now. Much stronger, happier, healthier and so much more…….I will run for the rest of my life!

    =) Laura @ Finding A Healthy Balance (after a 100+ POUND weight loss)

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) October 9, 2009, 4:28 pm

    I love seeing that a food blogger just has some days where they eat whatever, whenever and forget to photograph it. Sounds good to me. Hope you enjoyed it!

    I am the same way you are about running. I would exercise before but didn’t love it. I felt like I “had to” instead of wanting to. Now with running I want to and miss it when I can’t. I missed it when I had back surgery and I miss it now when I can’t do it for a few weeks due PT for my hips. It truly is my new joy for exercise.

    Thanks for sharing your passion!

  • Nicci@NiftyEats October 9, 2009, 4:36 pm

    I really needed this post today. I know that ”I CAN” and I will keep going.

  • Penny October 9, 2009, 5:43 pm

    SUCH a great post Caitlin, thank you! Since I started running I’ve noticed a total change in my attitude, too, and it’s helped me in so many dimensions in my life, most recently the friends I attract, which was a huge problem for me for awhile! And, since reading your blog, I’ve started to try to encourage my friends to take up running and I think it’s working 🙂

  • Ali@ Food, FItness, Fashion October 9, 2009, 5:47 pm

    I love your post! So true! I always try to explain that I started off as an awful runner and it was hard, but it gets easier. People get too discouraged from running too fast. I agree it is a spiritual experience. Running is like religion to me.

    Oh and I love the mac and cheese, making me hungry!

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) October 9, 2009, 6:26 pm

    Ah such a beautiful post, thanks Caitlin!

  • Jenny Eastwood@ JennyLikesToRun, Healthy living blog :) October 9, 2009, 6:41 pm

    Well said Caitlin! I love this post! 😀 I’ll mention it in my update today. You pretty much covered all the reasons I took up running, and you’re so right about there being a seriously important spiritual component in it. I love the mental challenge of running. Thank you caitlin for this post!

  • Danielle October 9, 2009, 7:27 pm

    I love this post! Thank you!

  • Justy2003 October 9, 2009, 7:53 pm

    Loving the positive attitude toward running! It reminds me of your love note to running you wrote a while back 🙂 So glad that after your injury you’ve been able to come back full force and enjoy your running!

  • Jolene ( October 9, 2009, 8:00 pm

    I always love when you tell this story, because it is so inspiring!

  • Jamie October 9, 2009, 8:02 pm

    2 weeks ago I stumbled upon your blog while looking for recipes for yet another fad detox diet. No dairy, no sugar, only protein…blah, blah, blah. This time, I did not follow the fad, but ultimately chose the healthy route. This something I never do, because I’m impatient and want results…like yesterday.
    I have been reading your blog faithfully and find your journey inspiring. I am desperately trying to fall in love with running but find my hectic children and 2 small children sometimes make the path to a healthy lifestyle a little challenging. My goal since turning 25 has been to run a marathon. I just finished a 4 mile run/walk using the galloway method and feel better about myself than I have in some time. Thank you for your dedication to good health and well being. I am happy to have found your blog and will be cheering for you all the way.

    • Caitlin October 9, 2009, 8:19 pm

      this comment made my night 🙂

  • Nicole October 9, 2009, 8:28 pm

    I am so glad your friend was blunt and approached you the way she did. Now we can all reap your boundless wisdom 🙂 ! I have just recently started running with the Couch to 5K program and my outlook on life, fitness and nutrition is totally different. It’s become less about fitting into the jeans I desire to fit into and more about striving for something bigger than me! I am so glad to visit your site each day and find some of my motivation through posts like this. Thank you so much!

  • Allison October 9, 2009, 8:46 pm

    Haha, that’s almost exactly what my boyfriend had to eat today… he had a huge bowl of raisin bran (with the super-sugary raisins in it) and an entire box of great value mac n cheese (the fluorescent orange kind… GROSS).

  • McKenzie October 9, 2009, 11:16 pm

    i suck as a runner but I try really hard..I hope to get faster and better very soon..Does anyone have tips for running form. I always feel like I have my hands and arms in the wrong position and my breathing is kind of off

    • Caitlin October 10, 2009, 7:50 am

      there’s a book called Chi Running that might want to check out!

  • angieinatlanta October 10, 2009, 8:32 am

    Awesome post! I’m getting into running now; I hope to make it to double digits some day!

    That Cascadian Farms cereal is amazing; it’s basically organic cinnamon toast crunch!

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog October 10, 2009, 1:13 pm

    this post is like the personal statement i wrote for law school!

  • Rachel S October 10, 2009, 5:27 pm

    Love this post! I feel the same way about running. I’m still a beginner and I’ve never run more than 4 miles or so, but I can already feel the positive effects it has had on my life. I totally agree on the desire to improve…the more I run the more I want to get better at it. Thank you for posting this, it really is inspirational and so very true!

  • Andee (Runtolive) October 10, 2009, 8:50 pm

    Your journey with running is really inspiring. I love how you just pick yourself up again and get right back at it. Looking forward to meeting you at the pre-race Walt Disney marathon 🙂

  • Heather October 12, 2009, 7:55 pm

    I love this post!! I feel the same way about running and what it has brought to my life. I’m so thankful.

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