Let's Chat About Running and Marathons

 Photo by: Mariah

Photo by: Mariah

 A graduate student by day, runner by night and an environmentalist everyday -  we sat down with Mariah @mariahmargaret to talk about running and how she got into running. Since getting into running three years ago Mariaha has not stopped . What started as a means of physical exercise has now turned into a lifestyle of mindfulness. When she is not running or saving the environment you can find her sharing her love of sustainability, health, spirituality and all things natural on her Instagram page.  Check out how she got into running and how she keeps running when things get tough

"I live as holistically as possible and aim to spread light and love through my Instagram handle. I have been a serious runner for about three years now."  - Mariah

1. How did you get into running? 

I wish my story of getting into running was more inspirational... but in all honesty, it was the classic attempt to get into shape after gaining the freshman 15. After first year of university, I was left stressed out and unhappy about my appearance. I took to running as a way to exercise, but what I found was an amazing outlet for my stress! I could just unwind, clear my head and THINK. What started as a means of physical exercise quickly turned into a mindful one, too.

2.What was the first race you finished?

I dabbled in track and field and cross-country throughout middle school and high school. To be honest, running never really appealed to me in these times. The first race I can remember was in high school, with cross-country. I think it was a 3km distance, and I DIED. I had to walk at the end! I was so embarrased! Its humbling to look back on these times. We all start somewhere!

3. How many marathons have you ran?

I have completed 2 official half-marathons, but several on my own time. I like to race, but I can get the same enjoyment (and save some cash) by putting on races for myself! I pick a route, tell a friend or two what I'm doing, and head out. Nobody to worry about but me, and my personal best!

4. When you are in those final kilometers of a race and want nothing more than to stop, what gets you through? 

This is a tough one. Some days are much harder than others. If I am listening to music, I find playing some intense songs may get me amped up to finish the run. I am also not opposed to taking a quick 1 min walk or break - simply refocusing, taking a second to breathe, and get back into it. What works best is simply being realistic. I have to get home somehow, so all I can do is put one foot infront of the other until I get there.

5. Do you have any pre-race rituals? 

I like to wake up extra early, to stretch and warm up for a long time. I stick to simple eats, like oatmeal or banana with toast, and make sure to drink enough. When I'm training, I like to pick one song that I listen to as i get ready, and I'll have that on repeat before a race. I honestly believe it helps to get you in the right mindset, and lets your body know that it is about to run. Currently, that song is Electric Church by Mike Taylor.


6. Do you ever have days where you don’t feel like running? What helps to get you out there?

First and foremost, I listen to my body. If it is telling me it doesn't want to run, then I don't!!! It has taken me incredibly long to get to a point where I am not afraid of resting. I have spent many years pushing my body to extremes and have suffered significantly because if it. But, if I'm just being lazy the best way to get out is to just put on the clothes. That is the hardest part. Just get dressed and go! Start with 10 minutes, and if that's all I can do, then that is all I will do. Often, once I am out there, it is smooth sailing.


7. When you finished a race, what is the first thing you want to do next?

EAT. There is nothing more satisfying than an ice cold, rich smoothie after a hard run. It is all I crave! Race days are fun though. The atmosphere is great, and you are surrounded by like-minded people. I like to hang out for a bit, interact with others, and spend the day with family and friends celebrating a job well done.

8. What advice would give to someone running their first race or want to get into running?

Do not be afraid to walk. I still have to slow down sometimes, or take a quick 2 minute walk break. There is nothing wrong with it! It can help you build up to longer distance and increase your fitness over time. Another tip is to treat easy days just like that, easy! Too often, runners push themselves hard even on easy days and don't give their bodies the rest it deserves. This will just lead to burn out. Take your easy days easy, and go hard on your hard days.

9. Where do you purchase your running gears? 

All over! I have different brands for different reasons. I like to have a couple nice pieces, from Nike or Lululemon that make me feel good and perform well. But, I purchase a lot of things from places like Marshalls or Winners that have great deals! Not every sports bra needs to be $80. It's nice to have those more expensive pieces as a treat, but they are certainly not necessary. The only exception is shoes. You need to spend more to get better quality shoes, that is a must. I wear Saucony but also like New Balance.

10. Why do you run?

I run simply for me. It is my time to relax and unwind. Those who don't run may find this crazy. You run to relax?? YUP. I rarely even listen to music on my runs, as I like to use that time to work through emotions, envision the future, send gratitude or simply just be. Of course, running is also a physical activity for me, and I would be lying if I said I didn't lace up every now and then for the purpose of a sweat sesh. But mainly, I find it to be an extremely rewarding way to find inner bliss and practice mindfullness. 

 Photo by: Mariah

Photo by: Mariah

Being ordinary is extraordinary

Learning to take care of ourselves is the hardness thing, most of us have constructed a very busy life, so the notion of taking a day off or an hour to appreciate the little thing or the ordinary things seems impossible. We have been taught to reject the ordinary things and rejoice only in the extraordinary things, but often time we are blinded by this flawed perception of reality. Often time we miss our own good fortunate because happiness does not always comes in grant gestures or in the extraordinary things, but in ways we don’t even notice. Happiness comes in the ordinary things, the small things that we’ve been socialized to reject. Often time I am remind my happy moment as those ordinary moments such as talking to a friend, hanging out with a friend, taking a long bath, or enjoying a good practice. These moments seems so mundane, yet when I reflect upon them there is something about them that brings joy and a feeling of extraordinary. This is the beauty of happiness or good fortune they don’t come in big packages, but in the ordinary things that we overlooked in our daily life because we’ve have established a busy life that only gives attention to the extraordinary thing, but not ordinary thing.

The key is to be ever present and pay attention to the ordinary things

“By taking care of ordinary things – our pots and pans, our clothing, our teeth we rejoice in them. When we scrub a vegetable or brush our hair we are expressing appreciation. Friendship toward ourselves and toward the living quality that is found in everything. This combination of mindfulness and appreciation connects us fully with reality and brings us joy” _ Pema Chodron

First Half-Marathon

 This weekend I did something I never thought I’d cross off my bucket list, or be able to do, which is to do a half-marathon. As some of you know I regularly run marathons during the summer, but mostly 5k. I’ve ran about five 5k, and last year I ran  my first  10k. The 10k was an absolute success and my timing was just perfect, so this year I thought I’d challenge myself and run a half-marathon. By far this has been the most challenging and rewarding race I’ve done.   It wasn’t what I expected; it was so much more, and there were so much emotions experienced. This is something I think you can’t describe, but only feel. Perhaps it’s what people call a runner’s high or perhaps it’s the realization that you’ve just ran 20 miles and you have less than 2 miles left. Perhaps it’s the sense of vulnerability that you experience, the sense of knowing that in that very moment you are in your most vulnerable state; anything is possible and anything could happen. In that very moment you’re body could just give up, and that will be the end of it, the end of the long training, and preparation. Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience.  Looking back I think there are many things I wish I did different, going into the race I’ve had enough training, but not enough. First thing I would’ve put more effort into training outside, and in different temperature. Most of training’s done indoor, in controlled temperature with no sun. This  had a significant impact on me on the day of the marathon. Apart from having to run the marathon early in the morning, my body was forced to run in hot an humid temperature which I’ve never done before. This led to me having to walk more than I would’ve liked. The other thing was my failure to  pace myself while running. There are many things that I can outlined that I wish I would’ve done to improve my time and my overall experience. But like life, you can’t go back and fix thing. The one thing you can do is look forward to the future and figure a way to make things better next time. The past is the past, what matter, is here right now.  Nonetheless, in doing this marathon I was able to learn key lessons that I will keep in mind while training for the next marathon:  1. Train before running:   You know the saying ‘practice makes perfect’, well the same concept applies to running a half-marathon. If you’re planning on running a half marathon, or full marathon make sure you train. In order to achieve the goal you set yourself, you have to train your body. There is no way of succeed without training.   2. Set a goal:   Regardless if it’s your first time running marathon, or you’ve done this many times I strongly recommend setting yourself a goal. Goal setting is something everyone does in their life because it gives you a long-term vision and short term motivation. Having an idea of the BIG PICTURE is a strong motivation. My motivation for this marathon was to run just under three hours given that this is my first time, and I was able to achieve such goal. This was a strong motivation for me that kept me moving when I felt physically tired and just wanted to stop.  3. It’s about the journey and not the destination  I think one the thing you should always remind yourself when running is that it’s not about the destination, but rather the journey. The journey is far more amazing than destination itself. Let me start by saying that running marathon or even just 5k is amazing, it’s amazing because for those few minutes you and a  thousands group of people come together from different region of the world with the one goal of running this marathon. In those few hours you are one with each other, and your differences are insignificant. What matter is that you’re all trying to finish this marathon. This sense of unity, and community created by this  marathon makes the destination a secondary reward.  4. Their friends and partners, not competition  Marathon runners are known for offering encouragement and helping others given the chance. I think because they understanding that its less about winning or losing, but the experience itself and finishing the race together. As a result the entire race was filled with encouragement from bystanders to other runners. This was able to experience this first hand, every time i stopped to walk I always had someone asked me if I am okay, and had another runner who made sure I didn’t stop to walk. Every time I started to walk he would encourage to start running. This is why I love running these marathon, this sense of unity and community that’s established by runners makes me think that the world would be a better place if we competed less with each other and encourage each other.  5. Find your motivation and keep going  While running it’s normal to struggle to finish, as you run more distance you become tried and lose all motivation. The desperation to find inner strength becomes difficult the more distance you run. But remember that you alone can finish this marathon, regardless of how many people cheer you on, at the end of the day it is up to you to finish the race. The same lesson applies to life decision, you’re friends and family will always support, but regardless of how many friends and families you support you, you will have to face important life decision by yourself and carry your own weight. It is it up to you to either give up, or keep going. 

This weekend I did something I never thought I’d cross off my bucket list, or be able to do, which is to do a half-marathon. As some of you know I regularly run marathons during the summer, but mostly 5k. I’ve ran about five 5k, and last year I ran  my first  10k. The 10k was an absolute success and my timing was just perfect, so this year I thought I’d challenge myself and run a half-marathon. By far this has been the most challenging and rewarding race I’ve done. 

It wasn’t what I expected; it was so much more, and there were so much emotions experienced. This is something I think you can’t describe, but only feel. Perhaps it’s what people call a runner’s high or perhaps it’s the realization that you’ve just ran 20 miles and you have less than 2 miles left. Perhaps it’s the sense of vulnerability that you experience, the sense of knowing that in that very moment you are in your most vulnerable state; anything is possible and anything could happen. In that very moment you’re body could just give up, and that will be the end of it, the end of the long training, and preparation. Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience.

Looking back I think there are many things I wish I did different, going into the race I’ve had enough training, but not enough. First thing I would’ve put more effort into training outside, and in different temperature. Most of training’s done indoor, in controlled temperature with no sun. This  had a significant impact on me on the day of the marathon. Apart from having to run the marathon early in the morning, my body was forced to run in hot an humid temperature which I’ve never done before. This led to me having to walk more than I would’ve liked. The other thing was my failure to  pace myself while running. There are many things that I can outlined that I wish I would’ve done to improve my time and my overall experience. But like life, you can’t go back and fix thing. The one thing you can do is look forward to the future and figure a way to make things better next time. The past is the past, what matter, is here right now.

Nonetheless, in doing this marathon I was able to learn key lessons that I will keep in mind while training for the next marathon:

1. Train before running: 

You know the saying ‘practice makes perfect’, well the same concept applies to running a half-marathon. If you’re planning on running a half marathon, or full marathon make sure you train. In order to achieve the goal you set yourself, you have to train your body. There is no way of succeed without training. 

2. Set a goal: 

Regardless if it’s your first time running marathon, or you’ve done this many times I strongly recommend setting yourself a goal. Goal setting is something everyone does in their life because it gives you a long-term vision and short term motivation. Having an idea of the BIG PICTURE is a strong motivation. My motivation for this marathon was to run just under three hours given that this is my first time, and I was able to achieve such goal. This was a strong motivation for me that kept me moving when I felt physically tired and just wanted to stop.

3. It’s about the journey and not the destination

I think one the thing you should always remind yourself when running is that it’s not about the destination, but rather the journey. The journey is far more amazing than destination itself. Let me start by saying that running marathon or even just 5k is amazing, it’s amazing because for those few minutes you and a  thousands group of people come together from different region of the world with the one goal of running this marathon. In those few hours you are one with each other, and your differences are insignificant. What matter is that you’re all trying to finish this marathon. This sense of unity, and community created by this  marathon makes the destination a secondary reward.

4. Their friends and partners, not competition

Marathon runners are known for offering encouragement and helping others given the chance. I think because they understanding that its less about winning or losing, but the experience itself and finishing the race together. As a result the entire race was filled with encouragement from bystanders to other runners. This was able to experience this first hand, every time i stopped to walk I always had someone asked me if I am okay, and had another runner who made sure I didn’t stop to walk. Every time I started to walk he would encourage to start running. This is why I love running these marathon, this sense of unity and community that’s established by runners makes me think that the world would be a better place if we competed less with each other and encourage each other.

5. Find your motivation and keep going

While running it’s normal to struggle to finish, as you run more distance you become tried and lose all motivation. The desperation to find inner strength becomes difficult the more distance you run. But remember that you alone can finish this marathon, regardless of how many people cheer you on, at the end of the day it is up to you to finish the race. The same lesson applies to life decision, you’re friends and family will always support, but regardless of how many friends and families you support you, you will have to face important life decision by yourself and carry your own weight. It is it up to you to either give up, or keep going.