Hello friends, and thank you for reading an interview with this week’s featured runner, Amanda Ghent! It’s been a joy to follow her running journey on the web for what has felt like forever! I really enjoyed getting to ask her these fun questions – and I hope you’ll have as much fun reading her story as I did!
Welcome to In Her Shoes, Amanda! For those who might not already know you, please say hi!
Thank you so much for having me be a part of story sharing with Stay Great My Girl friends! For those that may not know me, or follow me on any of the social platforms (IG: amandaghent or The Running Señora WordPress blog are my busiest outlets)…my name is Amanda. I am a sinner, saved by God’s grace, with the privilege to reflect the love of Christ in my everyday. I’m a wife for almost 12 years, mother to two daughters (7 & 6), a preschool teacher, violin playing instructor, and Spanish speaking lover of avocados and bananas (of which I’ve recently discovered cause me some horrible health side effects). I’m also a self-proclaimed professional recreational runner. I live in my hometown in SC in the only house we’ve ever owned since marriage and I’m a sucker for fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and a good cup of coffee. One day, just maybe, our family will live in a foreign country…and if I got to pick, it would be Honduras!
What’s a typical day like in your shoes?
Most days start at 4:15 am – I’m able to spend the first chunk of my morning reading Scripture, whatever passage tags along with the devotions on the First5 app (a ministry by the Proverbs31 folks that I HIGHLY recommend for anyone, but specifically women who need a guided walk through studying scripture and applying it to their everyday!). By 4:40 I’m up and dressed, ready to meet my teacher running friends for some miles, followed by strength training. By 6:30, it’s go-time. I get my girls to school, then head to the preschool for the morning with my sweet babies 6 months-5 yrs old! I seriously have the best job and the joy of teaching Spanish, science, and leading Chapel each week and love all 120+ children I get to see on a regular basis. I’m also thankful for an hour of “free time” before I get my girls from school, do the afterschool/Park/homework thing and head to swim team practice for the night. I’ve also gotten down prepping dinner and having it ready within 10-15 minutes after we get back home! 🏼 Somehow, our days go by so quickly, but we get much accomplished and have fun doing it!! I LOVE sleep more than TV, girls nights, or food/drink. So being in bed between 8-9 pm is not uncommon!
How long have you been running? How did you get started?
So, the first time I ran (when I became a runner) was in Spring 2000. I was a senior in college and on the recovery side of an intense eating disorder. I was just beginning to find a healthier relationship with food and exercise, and I realized that Running was so much more enjoyable than walking (what I had been doing excessively during the ED). I felt so accomplished after running just 2-3 miles and so much more energized. And that made me WANT to fuel my body to do it again the next day. I ran for the years that followed here and there 2-4 days a week but no “serious training.” Running helped me cope with lots of life during that season: stressful job, relationships, my mother’s illness and death (brain cancer), and infertility. When i finally got pregnant, I took a break from exercising regularly (2010) up until my youngest turned 4 (2016). I can probably count on two hands how many times I ran between that season. But since May 2016, I’ve been nonstop with training: first for a triathlon, then half marathons, a full marathon and more half marathons. And it just keeps getting better!!
What are some of your proudest running moments?
One of the proudest running moments I have is crossing the finish line at my first (and currently only) full marathon. That training cycle introduced commitment, grit, determination, scheduling, and sadly injury for me and it took everything I had to complete miles 21-26 on race day. But for the last .2, I washed away my wallow, forgot the pain, and trotted across the finish line. Emotion swelled in-I’ll never forget it! You only become a marathoner for the first time once. And while it wasn’t the race I dreamed up, it was still a spectacular moment!
One other time my husband decided to join a race at the last minute. And because he was so overly zealous about running with the lead pack of guys, he crashed at mile 3 of 4.93….so I beat him across the finish line. VICTORY! And will remember that moment for forever! 🙂 maybe, just maybe, I’ll cross another finish line and beat him! Haha.
What are you most proud of, not running related?
Some of my prouder moments without running shoes on: making it to the end of each day; road tripping to MS (10 hr drive) with a 3 and 2 yr old; living for a semester in a foreign country and walking away speaking like a native; conducting my college symphony upon graduating; learning to bake a pound cake; and acquiring a taste for black coffee (when only powdered creamer is available
What running goals are you currently chasing?
I’ve been doing a lot of distance running over the last year. Since March of 2017, I’ve been training for 13.1-26.2 miles. But I always feel the desire to go faster. So this summer, I’m speed training. Not for specific races in mind, though I have several lined up. I just want to show up, work hard, and go faster. Ideally, I’ll work on the 5k distance. I’ve always wanted a sub22, and since that’s already come and I feel like I have more room to grow, I’ll be shooting for that sub21 by the end of October. It’s quite possible I’ll get back on the marathon train and have a late fall marathon (goal would be closer to a BQ…but realistically, just finish without the injuries this time!). Who knows?! One thing I do know-this year has already been a super fun year of training!
Any non-running goals?
As for non-running goals, I’ve got the desire to play in our local bigshot symphony. I played with them right out of college for some shows but haven’t been able to get back in. My techniques and skills have dwindled some, but I’ve had a few private lessons and hopefully will make it back in the orchestra soon!
What is the hardest running-related lesson you’ve learned?
As runners, we make ourselves vulnerable to injury, pain, burnout, pride, ridicule, celebration, camaraderie, and joy. It’s who we are. We work hard, harder than our bodies can keep up sometime, and we become obnoxious (guilty
🏻♀️) and obsessed with something that we LOVE to do. Not everyone will agree, understand, or rejoice with you.
BUT, we also have the ability to motivate, encourage, and inspire others who just want to be better than yesterday. Sometimes that vulnerability can cause a chasm between others, but it can also bring about movement (physically and metaphorically) in the greatest sphere of influence (the social platforms). To me, it’s worth sharing what I love to do so much so that it may be a catalyst for someone else to feel the freedom and joy of living out their dream with such passion.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a runner, but feels intimidated?
Just start. Go. While a good supportive pair of shoes and comfortable clothes would be ideal, you really need NOTHING to start, just the desire to begin. For some that means running to the mailbox and walking back home, maybe once, maybe 10 times for days or weeks. Or maybe it looks completely different. But just deciding to get out the door is the first step. Don’t pay attention to a distance or a pace. Do what feels right to you. The idea isn’t to feel like you’re going to die, but also know that it won’t be easy. Remember, you can do hard things. And from there, you just keep building!!
What role does your faith play in your running?
I could run without my faith.
I could probably train without my faith.
I bet I could even make progression, little by little, without my faith.
But without my faith, I am certain I’d lose all perseverance, perspective, and the purpose in my training and running. I wouldn’t be able to see the big picture, “trust the process,” or even view each workout/run/race a success even if it didn’t meet goal paces, the right distance, or a PR. It is only by the grace of God that I have breath and strength every day to move forward. And for that, I’m extremely grateful. I actually GET to do something that I love to do!! But because of knowing the hope I have in Jesus, my running is not the end all/be all of life. It’s a beautiful passion that God has given me to see lived out for His glory.
But as much as my faith is used in running, it’s really broader than that: running lessons=life lessons.
The days that are hard, I always remember perseverance is key: give yourself grace and keep moving forward. The moments where I am humbled, I remember to keep things in perspective: there is a lesson to learn, I have to see the joy in the simple things, and I need to be generous and share that grace with others. I’m not a finish line success story, and I’m certainly not a daily human success story! I’m just a gal, who falls down, but has the courage to get back up again, puts one foot in front of the other, and gives praise to the One who sees me there. No one is going to steal that joy!
What are three things that you’re grateful for?
I am especially thankful that God created me to enjoy the beach…or He created the beach for me to enjoy. Either way, the sand and waves and salty air give my heart all the feels!
I’m grateful for passions, desires, and the means to fulfill them. I firmly believe God places them in our hearts and allows us to pour ourselves into them for His glory. For me, that list seems quite long, but I’m so thankful for gifts of music, activity, creation, and writing!
I’m grateful for the spirit of conviction, for without it I’d be a hot mess!! I used to always wonder what that “little voice” was when I felt tugged in one way or another, and as I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to understand that it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me in the way I ought to go! What a gift is it to have this wisdom instruct us!!!
Thanks for inspiring us, Amanda!
To keep up with Amanda, follow her on Instagram: @amandaghent