3 Years of Running: A Letter to my Former Self

Dear first-day-of-Couch-to-5k Tracy,

Hi, it's future you! It's three years later, and you're still running! You are what people call a "real runner", how unbelievable is that? I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. I wouldn't lie to you.

You just completed your first of what will be many runs. I know you don't think it really counts, because you walked twice as much as you ran today, but I promise it does!

A quick word of advice: those hideous Brooks you got fitted for? Don't trade them in for a cute pair of Saucony's you find on the internet. You will get shin splints, and you will be sad.

In just a couple of weeks, you are going to feel like a whole new person. You are going to wonder how you lived the first 23 1/2 years of your life without running. You are going to feel euphoric every time you reach a new goal. Those 5-minute runs scaring the life out of you right now? Girl, you got this! You are going to wish you could give yourself a giant high 5 every time you make it back to your apartment and realize you just ran there.

You are going to huff and puff through some of your runs. You are even going to cry sometimes. That's okay. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it's hard.

In a few weeks, you are going to run in your first 5k, your first ever race. You are going to make a rookie mistake and not pace yourself correctly. You're going to end up walking at least a third of it. You will feel like you're dying by the end. It won't be the last time.

It's going to take you longer than 8 weeks to complete Couch to 5k. You'll get busy, you'll make excuses, but it's okay. You're going to make it. You're not going to be able to run a full 5k by the end. That's okay too. You'll get there.

You're going to run your first real 5k, the whole thing, without stopping, on your cousin's birthday in October. You are going to be proud that you accomplished something he never got the opportunity to. It will take you over 38 minutes to finish. You won't know that that's a pretty slow time. You wouldn't care if you did.

After that race is when the real fun is going to begin. A few weeks later you'll run your first 10k. In the months that follow, you'll run a 5k in under 30 minutes for the first time. You'll run your first half marathon. Again, your time will not be great. Again, you won't care. You will experience a feeling of pride that you've never felt, at a depth you didn't even know could exist.

You are going to learn to push yourself. Even when you think you have nothing left, you're going to dig deep and find more strength than you ever knew you had.

You will run through the summer and curse the blistering heat. You will run through the winter and your face and fingers and toes will be numb, but you will be happy.

When others are sleeping, you will be running. You will want to be in bed too, but you'll push yourself out the door anyway. You will learn to appreciate the solitude of being the only soul out at 7am on a Saturday morning. You will feel like the world exists solely for you to admire it on your runs.

You will appreciate your sacrifices when you finish your second half marathon over 30 minutes faster than your first one. You will feel like falling over at the finish line, and you'll know that's because you gave it everything you had.

You'll have some big life decisions to make, and running will give you the clarity and the confidence to go after what you want. In a couple years, someone is going to try to bring down the sport that you have grown to love. You won't know what to do, so you'll lace up. Because that's what you do when life gets hard and confusing and you don't know what else to do.

You will learn to dream big. You'll dream the biggest dream of all, a dream you never even knew you had: to run a marathon. You will run all 26.2 of those miles on a cold day in January, on a day when you are 26.2 years old, in the city where you were born. When you cross that finish line, you'll wonder if it all was just a dream. It wasn't. Future you is a marathoner, Trace!

Today you started on a journey that is going to change your life. Over the next 3 years you'll think about this day often, on days when you have success and marvel at how far you've come, and on days when you fail and wonder why you ever started in the first place. You'll have many mantras you'll repeat to yourself over the next 3 years, but the most important one is this: You are going to be great. Keep going.

Keep going. Always. You won't regret it.


  1. i love this!! i'm glad that you found passion in running; i call that fitness jesus :)

    Vodka and Soda

  2. I loved reading this! So encouraging Tracy!

  3. This was amazing! I've been wanting to "become" a runner, too and this post was really encouraging! It seems like some people just do it so naturally (like you!) but I love seeing the work/effort/determination behind it. Doesn't make me feel as bad about myself when I run three blocks and am tired :)

  4. Aw, I love this! :) I've had many of these same thoughts! Just this morning when I finished running I thought "Wow, there were days in the past when running five minutes at a time terrified me and look at me now!" It's such a great feeling!! I still hope to become a "real runner" someday. :)

  5. :) This post made me smile and possibly cry a little bit. (I blame it on the pregnancy hormones)

  6. I love this!! Running is just amazing :) Keep on rocking it!!!

  7. You about made me cry!!! I haven't run in almost 4 weeks...and my first half is next Sunday. I trained so hard until a month ago when things got crazy, then vacation came, then my Grandpa passed. I want to run it for him, and I know I'll be able to get through it. I'm sure I'll walk, but I can't wait for that feeling when I cross the finish line. I absolutely loved this post, girl!!! Thank you for sharing :)

  8. Gah! I loved reading this. =) This gives me so much hope and encouragement. Love it!

  9. This is great- very inspiring! I can't wait to get back to running (well I have to start with walking since I had a csection a couple of weeks ago but I'll get there again!)

  10. This is a great read! I just started the C25K program this week. Looking forward to seeing where I'm at in three years.

  11. Okay seriously? I just got goosebumps reading this. This is awesome.

  12. I love this post with all the loves.