I’m pretty excited to announce that I’m joining the FitFluential family and have become one of their newest FitFluential Ambassadors!
When you’re involved in the blogging fitness/running community it’s hard not to notice the influence of the FitFluential program. They are a network of influential fitness enthusiasts all committed to sharing their journeys both online and in person through various social media. I have come to know some amazing runners and athletes who are FitFluential Ambassadors themselves. I have always admired them for their strength, their determination, their confidence and their perseverance. I had thought about it lots but wasn’t really sure if I had what it takes to be an Ambassador too…
As a teenager I was probably about as inactive as they come. Sure I played basketball and volleyball but I think that was mostly because I was tall and felt like I should play those sports. I was always the wimp at the back of the pack, possibly even with a few tears rolling down her cheeks, trying to finish the fitness-mile run in gym class and failing miserably at it.
During and after university I became much more active and started to regularly enjoy many new-to-me activities like mountain biking, golf, going to the gym, scuba-diving, hiking and even a few sprint distance triathlons for good measure. I even dabbled in running a little bit back then, completing a bunch of 10k and 5k races around town. While I was never particularly overweight, I began to feel so much better about myself and found whole new ways of feeling confident and strong and it felt amazing. Sure, I still couldn’t really catch a softball, but I was getting in shape and was loving it! I started to form all kinds of goals and plans in my head of things I might one day like to do, like someday run a half marathon.
Then, in 2005 I got hurt. I had finally become a more active and healthy person and then a serious car accident pretty much took that all away from me. I was told my body would never be the same again and that I would always be in pain. My doctor outright told me that I would never be able to run again and just wouldn’t be able to be active again because of the resulting pain and weakness. It was devastating.
|I was in pretty rough shape at first but still
trying to stay positive and smile (check out that hair!)
So while my body healed (and they were right, it has just never been the same) my rehabilitation pretty much centred around getting as much strength back as possible. My therapy involved tons of intervention from doctors and therapists of every kind but much of it was up to me – I had to strengthen the damaged muscles I was left with and try to regain some sense of support for my re-built spine. It was during this time that I realized how important being active in any way I could would be for the rest of my life. I didn’t expect to return to many of my recreational activities, but I began to focus on getting fitter and stronger in every way possible because it was truly the only way I could manage the pain in my back and gain any part of my former life back again.
|At physio with the clinic puppy|
It was a hard lesson. While I had begun to build an active lifestyle before the accident happened, I certainly was no expert at fitness and had so much to learn about the right way to train, the right way to strengthen and just how important it is to have a strong core so your whole body can work together properly. I struggled constantly but since it was so important I eventually began to figure it out with the help of many incredible doctors, therapists and trainers.
|Working out in the pool|
A few years and much physical therapy later, I was told that I had reached the point where they really couldn’t help me any further. I was healed but by no means “fully recovered” or “better”. I was still in pain and still feeling like I had a compromised body that just couldn’t move the way I wanted it to. That’s when I said to myself, “Well heck, if this is the best it’s going to get and I’m just going to hurt anyways, I may as well challenge myself and do something that I want to do!” My team agreed and wished me good luck when I told them I was going to try to learn to run again.
I’m not sure that anyone believed I would actually complete the training and finish my first half marathon. But in May 2008 I did but not without much pain and struggle and quite a few tears along the way. Crossing the finish line was amazing but what was even more incredible was that I was feeling better than I ever had since getting hurt. All of the running had helped further strengthen my legs, hips and spine and my posture had improved. I still hurt but felt my strongest yet. And not only that, but my confidence and belief in myself returned. The emotional transformation was just as significant as the physical one.
|Tears a-flowing as I neared the finish line…|
|I did it!|
My life was changed forever when I got hurt but the day I set foot in the running store and signed up for that clinic, my life was changed all over again. Because while it was the doctors who put me back together it was starting my running journey that really saved my life. Over the past four years that I have been running again, I am continually astounded by the impact that my running and improved fitness has had on my life. While they said I never could, I’ve been able to resume some of that active lifestyle I used to have before and even though it’s different and limited, I love it because it allows me to live the life I want to live.
|Completing the BMO Van Half in 2012
4 years after my very first half in 2008
|Running makes me feel like I can
be the person I want to be
I know I’m not going to change the world just because I have that FitFluential badge on my blog but I do hope that by sharing my story, my struggles, my tears, my triumphs and my joys along the way and with the help of the FitFluential organization, that maybe I can help inspire other people to find that confidence in themselves too. Since I started blogging about my journey I have connected with some truly amazing people, runners and athletes, many of whom have struggled with their own injuries and illnesses and I am humbled every time one of them tells me that hearing my story helped them even just a little bit.
So a big “Hello!” to all of the Ambassadors I am joining and a huge thank you for welcoming me. I hope you will follow along (or continue to) as I open up this new chapter in my running and fitness journey. I will be writing more about what it means to be part of the FitFluential family in coming posts.