The “Run. Breathe. Live” project would never happen if not for the story of my own transformation. I’ve never been a runner. Moreover, until my early 20s I’ve never even been athletic. Marathons for me were always something from another world. With all my heart, I admired people who could do it, but I was absolutely sure that I would never do it, because it seemed impossible (did I said “impossible”?). A list of my fears and doubts was big: fear of getting injured, fear of losing muscles (bodybuilding obsession), lack of belief in myself, self-created boundaries, etc.
The crucial moment of my life began from my divorce when all my plans, at least 5 years ahead, were ruined in one day. Research has shown that people never fully recover after this experience (I guess it explains some craziness we can see nowadays). Anyway, it was pretty tough and painful. 7 months later, I decided to add extra stress into my life, and I left my established life, sold my car, left my family and friends, and moved to a country without knowing the local language, having a job or any ideas what I was going to do next. For the person who always had a plan and clarity it was kind of crazy decision. I had a dream and desire, and I followed myheart. And less than 3 years later, I’m writing this as a very successful personal trainer in Manhattan, finishing my psychology degree to make a transition to a new career and living life many people dream about.
But every successful story has some sour part behind. Learning a language by myself, struggling with work, adjusting to a new culture, being lonely, conquering the big and ruthless city of New York, I was in a constant state of stress, which began basically when I got divorced. My nutrition habits got so much worse even though I am a nutrition coach. Depression became one of my best friends, and anxiety often made my stomach feel funny (I’m sure many people can relate). After one year of living in NYC I started to feel that things were getting better. A llight of hope was shining very brightly. However, 2016 brought me something I would never expect…
I got a job in a good gym, which made me work because I wanted to succeed. But then one after another, a series of horrible life events happened to me, and the worst part was the fact that I couldn’t control them. As a person who can effectively cope with stress, I was bombarded by painful life experiences. It was devastating: I lost my hopes, job, money, health, beliefs, and more… With all of that I lost the most precious thing – the desire to live. I had to go through the biggest pain of my life, the biggest lost, which I can’t share with anybody yet. It was that bad that everybody who knows me would never believe that I ended up searching for a suicide hotline.
Since the time of extreme teenage and adolescent suicidal thoughts, I never thought that I’d want to die. It was an eye-opening experience. The moment I was holding my phone, ready to dial one of the hotlines I woke up. It wasn’t me! How did I let myself to fall so down? Yes, I’d been going through an endless series of horrible events which were out of my control. I got to the point when each next fiasco couldn’t make me to feel pain anymore. I felt nothing…
Suicide wasn’t an option, not for me, and not for anybody. If you feel like there is nothing to live for, believe me, you’re special, your life is precious. There are so many wonderful things to live for! Please read my full story. I decided to do something about my situation. The one way to overcome any crisis is to continue to live. It sounds very simple but it’s a hardest thing to do when you are that desperate. I forced myself go out, meet people, look for new job opportunities, and things began getting better. I couldn’t change anything that had happened to me. I will never be the same person, but life is go on.
A few days after I moved to the Upper East Side in Manhattan, I remember how I was walking to the grocery store and saw that First avenue was closed. It happened to be the New York marathon that year. Unfortunately, I had no time to watch it, so I stood up there for 5 minutes watching pro women running. It was fascinating! The impression was so strong that I added the day of event to my calendar because I didn’t want to miss it. It was the end of 2015… At the end of 2016, in November, I was watching The New York marathon with my friend and his son. Also, I wanted to support my client who ran it that day, and I knew that his family was very far away. I know how difficult it is stay far from your loved ones. Like it happened yesterday, I remember that powerful feeling of energy, joy, and happiness which was coming from people. People of all types of shapes, all ages, sex, race, etc. were running together and crossed the finish line. That moment I made one of the biggest decisions in my life – I’ll overcome my fears, I’ll change my beliefs, and next year I’ll be running the New York marathon.
My thought process was pretty simple – I’ve got so many horrible things in my life, so I need something which will keep me get motivated and focused. Being totally stressed, overwhelmed, tired, depressed, I stopped working out as I did before. Twice a week at the gym was my maximum, versus my minimum of 4 sessions. The marathon could be a great reason to stay in shape and to be my guiding star. No matter what’s happening in my life, I will get out and run. The next day I put my shoes on and went for a run. I immediately changed my workout routine, bought running books to avoid injuries and to be more effective, got a few new pairs of running shoes, and started to run. To get a guaranteed entry for NYC marathon you have to complete the program “9+1” which means to run 9 qualifying races plus volunteer one time. As I mentioned before, I’ve never been a runner, but occasionally I was doing short (5, 10k) races because I love the energy. Usually, I never train for them but because I was working out regularly, so I was able to run. Sometimes I wanted to start running, but after a few runs a month I would give up. So, I looked at my profile at the NYRR website and realized I had done 7 races. With all my traveling plans I was able to do one race before 2017, volunteer one time and that’s it… However, I only had one last chance – to run on New Year Eve. And I did it! This is what I call commitment and determination.
I started my training and it completely transformed me, how I feel and how I look at things. In the past, I used to make fun of people who run during the winter, I truly believed they were crazy. All winter I ran outside, I love the feeling of overcoming yourself and fighting with weather (or just simply being a part of it). Running brings the best in you, you can see your true self, and think (or meditate) during long distance running. You can improve your mood, feel better, and look better. All of these benefits are not just my observation, they are scientifically proven facts. Running is something special. I ran my first half marathon 2 month after I madea decision. Since that, I ran 6 half marathons and I’m going continue. It’s so funny to remember how I said to myself, “Forget your fears, you’ll gain muscles back, you’re a trainer, you’ll be able to minimize risk of injuries, and a year later, after a half marathon you’ll get back to a regular routine”. I will never come back to the place I was before, even though I love weight lifting and I’m doing it as a part of cross-training. But running and cycling are so much more for me now. Still that’s another story…
What would you say to a person who states that she or he hates to run?
Everybody hates to run if this person never ran or tried to run consistently before. Running is not easy; even professional runners have their setbacks. But it’s not just about running, it’s about what it brings you – freedom, better life, and belief in yourself. Start to run smart and slowly. Push yourself at the beginning. Without getting out of your comfort zone nothing will happen. And one day you’ll fall in love with running.
What advice you would give a person who is thinking about starting to run?
Do it smart! There is no reason to rush things and go from zero to 6 miles. Many people feel so inspired that they start to run almost every day and too much. First of all, your body is not ready, which means you can get injured easily or over train. Second, you’ll get sick of it quickly because of reasons mentioned above and also because most people expect quick results. Remember, it’s not about running, it’s about you.
Start slowly, mix walking and running, increase mileage step by step, work on your body strength, join a group for support, or hire a coach – there are so many different ways and options. The most important thing – don’t rush, be smart.
What’s your next challenge?
One and only – NYC marathon. However, I have something else. My goal is overcome my fear of water, learn how to swim and to do a sprint triathlon next year.
What do you love about running?
Running helps to clear your mind, think, get creative, meditate, and brings you to reality and in-touch with yourself. It teaches you how to be strong, makes you feel good about yourself, helps to make newfriends, to feel important. Running makes you breathe and live.