My fitness journey (so far)

Sometimes when I think about my running goals I picture myself at the bottom of a mountain and it feels like I have so far to go before I get to the top and reach my goals. It looks steep and difficult and I question if I even have it in me to make it up there.

I have to remind myself in these moments that I’m not actually at the bottom of a mountain, even though it feels that way. I think as humans we can get so focused on what’s next we forget to look behind us and acknowledge the work we have done to get to where we are ‘starting’. So although I feel like I am ‘starting’ my competitive running journey, it took a lot of sweat to get to this place right here.

I think it’s also important as someone who is now a ‘fitness professional’ (meaning I work in the fitness world) that I make it very known that fitness has not always been a big part of my life. It is something I integrated into my life over a long period of time. There was a few points in my life where I didn’t work out at all. And I have my eating disorder scattered throughout this entire journey.

DISCLAIMER: I was bulimic for 5 years, from age 18-23. There are highs and lows of that journey as well… fortunately fitness was always a positive outlet for me. So I will not be heavily discussing my bulimia throughout this fitness journey because in my mind, they are very separate things. And honestly this post would become just too long. Neither of us have that kind of time.

SO we will begin my journey where it began. The day I was born.

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Just kidding we won’t go back THAT far, maybe just to childhood.

I was always an athletic kid. I played sports and excelled at quite a few. I loved being active and was always moving. I eventually became married to competitive soccer and that was my life until I went to college. I decided not to play soccer in college because I was ready to party and let loose. And that’s exactly what happened.

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My freshman year of college I went hard. I drank heavily 4-5 nights a week the whole year. It was insane. I won’t be sharing a lot of pictures from this period of my life ever because I have self respect now, but you can get a good taste of my life below:

As you can imagine with a very busy social schedule and full time school, there was not time for exercise. I went to the gym and ran on occasion but the overall theme of my life was party hard, and I completely lost all fitness (say hello to my cute little beer gut).

The rest of my college experience I still partied but not nearly as hard. I got excited about business school and started getting my life together and would go to the gym more frequently, but it was mostly sorority girl style workouts like 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by some ab exercises. Nothing crazy, but better than nothing.

I graduated college and moved to LA and became focused on my career. I had a gym membership but didn’t go often. Fast forward 1.5 years and I would officially call myself ‘out of shape’. I had the classic office life excuse that I was too tired in the morning and too tired to workout after work.

Cue my sister randomly training for and running a half marathon. I drove up to San Francisco to watch her race and was AWE INSPIRED. I mean here was my little sister running 13.1 miles all at once on purpose?? And trained without even making a big thing of it?

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I was so impressed and inspired I asked her to sign up for another one and convinced my whole family to sign up.

A few months later we completed the Ventura Half Marathon together! I pushed myself to my limits and felt so strong afterwards. But I wasn’t hooked on running and didn’t do much more after that.

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Then my sister and I both started following Kayla Itsines on Instagram and decided to do the BBG Guide together. We completed the 12 weeks and each saw some major changes, but mostly gained the valuable habit of exercising multiple times a week and prioritizing self care. From there I gained a routine and started using exercise as a way to purposefully feel strong and capable. I did mostly HIIT style workouts and tried some Body Pump classes and spin classes. I started a new program that was weight lifting specific and felt amazing picking up heavy things in the gym.

Then Cyclebar happened. My Dad, Stepmom, and I made the plan to open Cyclebar and I decided to try out a triathlon to put all my indoor cycling to use. I enjoyed the challenge of training for 3 different sports and learning how to do all three within the same workout. I also learned how to swim a little more efficiently although I will say the swimming was my least favorite part. I completed the triathlon and placed first in my age group (I sucked at the swim portion, caught up a bit on the bike, and smashed through the run)!

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Then I decided to run a marathon for my 26th birthday. It was always on my bucket list to finish one, so I signed up for the Surf City Marathon and trained for about 3 months. I followed my own training plan and tried to run at race pace (8:00) the entire time I was training (which I now know is not smart). I ended up running the marathon and qualifying for Boston with a 3:30:31 but my legs were absolute toast when it was over. I’m still thankful I didn’t get injured during this training.

I then dove into the life-consuming job of opening Cyclebar and learning how to run a business. I was able to sprinkle in a workout here and there and was able to take as many cycling classes as I wanted, but it was still difficult to find balance.

I would be lying if I said I felt the urge to be a cycling instructor when we opened. I was so consumed with running the business that I didn’t think I could handle another job. I thought our instructors were incredibly talented and motivating and didn’t feel I was able to sit up on the podium with them. The internal negative voice was loud and I was listening to it. I finally decided I was ready to be an instructor and was lucky to get in on another California studios training. I came back ready to teach and excited to hone my craft.

Then came the Boston Marathon, a major turning point in my fitness life. I had been saying for months that this would be my final marathon, I would consider this a victory lap and would never do another. I trained minimally with no focus on time.

I arrived in Boston and was excited to experience the race and soak it in and just enjoy it. Little did I realize the weather was going to be the worst in history and on Patriots Day I braved the 40 degree sleet and rain in nothing but a long sleeve, windbreaker, and a trash bag. The race was simultaneously miserable and exhilarating. I had never seen crowds cheering like that in my life and at times the energy of the crowd made me feel like I was the only person out there running. I started feeling the familiar marathons pains at mile 18 and due to a lack of training the last 6 miles were torturous, but despite being in the worst physical condition I turned the corner to run to the finish line and felt like a warrior. I lifted my hands over my head and claimed victory.

And then I was addicted to running.

I got back from Boston and immediately signed up for a women’s running team, Run Arete. Through that team I met so many like-minded females who loved running and started doing my first structured track workouts. I started trail running with runner friends. I was hooked. I signed up for the CIM and unfortunately got injured with a hip flexor strain early into my training which lead to a few months off of running. During this time I was able to teach at Cyclebar and lift at the gym.

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Watching my running teammates race the CIM had about the same effect as watching my sister run the half marathon. I was inspired and I wanted in. So I signed up for the LA Marathon, hired a coach, and went for it! I trained for a 7:30 average pace for the marathon but, as you can read in my race report, got my butt handed to me. I made it across the finish line in 3:29:56, a 35 second PR and Boston Qualifier.

That’s where we land today.

I am still hungry for that 3:15 marathon, which is why I see myself currently at the bottom of a mountain. The CIM will be my next marathon attempt which is 8 months away! It just seems so far in the future. But the plan is to trek along and continue working on my pace, maintain my fitness, and tackle some shorter distances along the way.

I feel invigorated and motivated the same way I did starting my half marathon training, starting my triathlon training, and starting my first marathon training. There is something to setting a big goal and going for it that brings me happiness. Although the race pictures would never tell you that.

Briana TelfordComment