I got my start in running back in the 5th grade - my older siblings were doing cross country and track, and the PE teacher at our elementary school wanted to recruit me as well. I hated the sport that first year, spending most practices hiding in the woods rather than running. I rarely finished a race without faking an asthma attack (I don't have asthma, by the way) so that people would take pity on how slow I was. That changed in following years as more kids I knew got started in the sport, and now my memories of XC in high school are some of my most cherished.
I wasn't fast enough to run in college and focused primarily on my education - engineering at U of L - running and racing sporadically. Once I got my first full time job at GE Appliances and started doing grad school online, running disappeared from my life entirely for about a year. It wasn't until my wife told me I seemed miserable that I decided to sign up with her for the Triple Crown of Running. Those are some of the slowest races on my resume, but ended up connecting me with other runners at work. I started racing for the GE Corporate team, signed up for my first marathon, and for the first time in my life followed a structured training plan. I made all the text book marathon mistakes leading up to and on race day, thinking the first 18 miles felt so easy. It was a crash and burn experience but was enough to qualify me for Boston 2015.
At the same time, I was recruited by the New Balance Louisville team and started representing the store locally. I raced like crazy that year and also celebrated the birth of our first child, Audrey. I learned so much that year about the sport and how to balance it with the rest of life's demands. Since then, I've continued to race, had another child (Edmund), jumped in a handful of 5K's with the single and double jogging stroller (even won a race with my son!), celebrated a year of PR'ing in almost every distance (2018 - including a 4:32 in the mile on the track, which is such a strange race this far outside of high school) after a year of PR'ing in none, and started my own one-on-one coaching platform (BoldBalancedRunning@gmail.com). Getting into coaching sums up my love of the sport - having a plan of attack, sharing it with others, and being patient. I want to be in the sport for the long run (pun intended) and get a thrill out of seeing my athletes set and reach their big (bold) goals while balancing the rest of life's demands.
I'd say one piece of advice it took me a long time to accept is knowing when to slow it down. It seems counter intuitive, but in my experience personally and with other runners the bigger struggle is not pushing through hard workouts but rather recognizing when to back off and (dare I say it) skip workouts. Taking easy days easy and understanding your training plan is much bigger than just one workout frees you to enjoy the sport, relax, and avoid injury. A second tid bit would be finding a regular running buddy (or buddies) - training in a group even just once a week works wonders for the running soul!