In Her Shoes: Catalina Drouillard

Hey y’all,
(Saying that because we have another Texan on the blog today!) I’m so excited to introduce you to my sweet friend Catalina.
I was lucky enough to meet Catalina on Maui last December. And in just four quick miles together, she brought me so much sunshine, wisdom, and encouragement! We could relate on so many levels – we both love running, Jesus, try to eat as plant-based as possible…and we both moved across the country with our husbands to live by the beach! I just knew I had to include her in the In Her Shoes series that so that you, too, could soak up her goodness and hear more about her beautifully intentional life. Let’s dive right in and meet Catalina!
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Hey, Catalina! I am so glad to be featuring the beautiful soul that you are on SGMG today. For those who don’t already follow you – say hello! 🙂
Charlotte, thank you so much for interviewing me, this is so cool!
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The Drouillard Ohana
Well, where do I start? I’m a 30 year old native Texan who moved to Maui with her husband and dog in January of 2017. My husband and I are both hairdressers and were looking for a change of pace in our lives during our engagement. We knew we could work anywhere with our profession and during our honeymoon we fell completely in love with Hawai’i. One year later we stepped out in faith and uprooted our entire lives after 29 years of never living outside of the greater Houston area. God has been so good to us and we have been successful in building our clientele, made incredible friends, and found our church home.
What’s a typical day like in your shoes?
Normally I wake up and freak out over how beautiful it is outside. Really, it hasn’t hit me after 14 months that this is my home. Most mornings I start with a run, except for Wednesday, I run with our running club in the evening. Saturdays & Sundays I meet up with my friends in our local running community just before dawn and run long. If I’m not running I’ll walk the dog to the beach or over to the farmers market for our package free produce and tofu. I love to drink a cup of hot tea while I get ready for the day and water all of my plants. Three days a week I work in a beautiful salon, other days I do on location bridal hair around the island, and on my time off I’ve been volunteering at Leilani Farm Sanctuary. Every time I leave my house it looks like I’m moving out, I’ve got all of my tools and usually a suitcase sized cooler of food. Food is important, I’m always hungry! So the first thing I do when I get home is cook dinner and then I finally get to relax with my husband before we go to sleep and I do it all over again!
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One of my favorite ladies of Leilani Farm Sanctuary.
How long have you been running? What made you get started?
Oh man, I ran my very first full mile my senior year of high school around the track, I felt like a champion! I ran off and on (mostly off) until July of 2013. That month I started hitting the treadmill at our apartment fitness center and began to play games as I call it. I would start with 2 miles. Then I would get comfortable with that distance and try to beat my time. Then I would add a quarter of a mile and do the same thing. We got our dog in January of 2013 so around this time she and I were going on long walks and that made me get back into running outside. In August of 2013 I ran my very first race, a free local 5k, and something happened. I knew I wanted to do this distance running thing so I immediately registered for a half marathon that was taking place in 12 weeks. My goal for that half marathon was a sub 2 and I made it in 1:56:23 and to say that I was hooked is a complete understatement! 5,000+ miles later I still tell people that a free 5k changed my life.
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Terrible photo but I keep it to remember that very first 5k. August 2013
What are your proudest running moments?
It’s hard not to include your first marathon finish! January 2015 I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon for the first time and oh my goodness was it incredible! For being a girl who never, ever played a sport I trained for and finished a marathon, that moment was unbelievable.
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Finishing my first marathon – January 2015
The following year I decided that I wanted to be an Ultramarathoner by the time I turned 29 so I trained for a couple of months and on May 3rd, 2016 I ran 50k (31miles) around Memorial Park & the Buffalo Bayou trail in Houston. It makes me proud because it wasn’t a race. There was no crowd, no shirt or medal, no fanfare, just me and a goal that I smashed! I was SO incredibly happy the entire time. Because it wasn’t a race I had no pressure, I would do whatever it took to stay in motion for 31 miles and I ended up running the distance in 5:09. Yeah, pretty proud of that one.
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Most recently I guided a runner who came from NYC with Achilles International to run the Maui Marathon. My runner Allan has a traumatic brain injury and to be beside him for 26.2 miles as he finished another race was so incredible. His teammates who also came out for the race all ran shorter distances so they were waiting at the finish line calling his name as we came in to the finisher’s shoot. I have never shed more tears or felt that accomplished when crossing a finish line. That race was a gift.
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Guiding an athlete with a traumatic brain injury for the Maui Marathon. October 2017
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Pushing for Ainsley’s Angels during the Stomp Out Hunger 5k. October 2017
Why did you adopt a plant-based diet? Has it benefited your running at all?
Oh wow, that is a long story! Growing up I never liked milk and I didn’t want to eat meat but it wasn’t really an option in my house. When I went to college I finally switched to a vegetarian diet. I learned a lot about veganism along the way and after 10 years I decided to give up the animal products all together. I actually made the switch 2 months before running that 50k and I’ll tell you the change was very noticeable. My recovery was much faster, I actually made fun of myself because the only thing sore was my arms from pumping them while running. Hahaha. The benefits of a plant based diet are incredible. My stomach doesn’t get upset, my skin cleared up, my cheeks are less round and I think that was the dairy, I have more energy and just overall feel really great. I will say that I am not a perfect vegan or 100% plant based. My wonderful husband will never even consider himself vegetarian but he eats mostly vegan food with me so we have a bit of a compromise going on. There is no meat or fish in our house so sometimes I will eat something that has eggs or cheese with him. While I would much rather be 1 million percent vegan I still feel like we are treating our bodies better and making an impact by both of us not eating animals. 
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Running the notorious Road to Hana during the Hana relay. September 2017
What goals are you currently running after?
I’m currently working on building a stronger clientele base in the salon. Same for my husband, I would love for him to be busier in the salon so he can quit Whole Foods and we can play more!
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Running the trails in Makawao Forest.
As for running I am currently training for a 50k in Makawao Forest. It’s in Upcountry Maui so I’ll be facing hills at elevation on technical trails. Lord, it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that is why I can’t wait!
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote or mantra?
I’ve written Isaiah 40:31 on my hand for most of my long races.
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
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My hardest miles to date, running at about 7000 feet.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to become a runner?
Just start. Start walking, maybe run a quarter mile at a time. Tell yourself you’ll run for 3 minutes, anything! The reason I love running is that anyone can do it anywhere. It is such a personal sport the it doesn’t matter how fast or how far you go, you just lace up and do it. You don’t have to race to be a runner either. If you are intimidated by races or can’t spend the money on registration fees please do not let that deter you. My ultra is not “official” but I certainly claim it! Set a goal for yourself and find accountability if you need it.
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Sunday morning long run with my running ohana.
Social media can be wonderful for that or join your local running community. I have found new reasons to run by connecting with the runners around me. Oh and don’t forget to be proud of every accomplishment and to celebrate every milestone, that will keep you going.
What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from running?
Eating good vegan food. Grocery shopping package & plastic, buying bulk bin items in my own glass jars (really, it’s like a high when I create no waste). Spending time with friends. Being outside. A good yoga session. Making my guests feel wonderful about their hair. Plants. My dog. Everything is my favorite thing!
Just for fun…what are three things that you’re grateful for?
Today? The grace of God, my health, and my husband who is my very best friend.
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Living the dream. Mahalo ke Akua (Thanks be to God.)
See, I knew you would love her! Isn’t she the best?
To keep with Catalina, see her awesome hair work, and be inspired by her plant-based recipes and waste-free habits, follow her on Instagram: @catalinadrouillard
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In Her Shoes: Jenn Kafka

It’s time for another interview with another amazing lady! Meet ultrarunner Jenn.

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I have been following Jenn for a while now and am in awe of her endurance. Not to mention, I LOVE seeing photos of her adorable baby boy! I know you’ll enjoy hearing her heart and learning about her life on and off the trails today. 

Welcome Jenn! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

Hi there! I’m Jenn and I’m living life in Aubrey, Texas. I’m a 28-year-old stay at home mama to our son Kaden who is our world. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know what I mean because I’m basically obsessed. Goodbye running pictures and hello to way too many baby pictures but I just can’t stop! My husband and I were both born and raised in sunny Southern California, but I spent a good few years living in Oregon. We really love living in in Texas. It’s the friendliest, hottest, most flat place I’ve ever been but we feel right at home here.  

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What’s a typical day like in your shoes?

A typical day for me is not all that exciting I’m sure. Our son wakes up bright and early at 6 AM, and he’s an energetic 8-month-old. I try to drink my coffee and get some breakfast in me while he crawls all over me and drags every favorite toy into my lap. He naps around 8:30 AM and then we suit up and go for a run with our dog. I try to get out of the house at least once or twice a week especially as he’s getting older.

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It can be so easy to get sucked into the baby schedule of nursing, eating solids, playtime, and nap time that days and weeks pass by and I haven’t gotten out of the house outside of a daily run and a weekly grocery store trip. We play and clean and he takes a few more naps and then I cook some dinner at 5pm and start our bedtime routine. See? Nothing too exciting but it’s everything to me and I enjoy the simple day to day mom life.

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How long have you been running, and what made you get started?

I first began running when I was 17, so a good 10 or 11 years ago. After graduating from high school I got my license, packed up my car, and drove 16 hours straight to Oregon. I had a friend who set me up with a place to stay at her sister’s house. I had one week to find a place while they let me crash on their couch. I found some random girl on Craiglist who had a room for rent in her two-bedroom apartment up on the hill near Spencer’s Butte in Eugene, Oregon. I didn’t know a single person and it was pretty lonely so after job searching every day I started going for a run. I’d run up the Butte every single day rain or shine. Then I began to run into town and back, taking all the trails along the Willamette River and the dirt track trails through the suburbs back up the hill. Running was my companion and escape when I felt alone and scared and when I doubted myself. Could I really start a life all by myself in a new place with no plans? I joined not one, but THREE local running groups to meet other like-minded people and fell in love with life in Oregon and of course with running too.

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What are your proudest running moments?

Hmm, well full disclaimer I am NOT a fast runner but I can run distance. I’d have to say my proudest running moment was running my first 50k, the Leona Divide 50k/50M by Keira Henninger in SoCal. It was not only my first Ultra Marathon, but also where I met my husband for the first time at the finish line and it was the race that led me on a path to be saved by Christ. What could ever beat that right?? Second to that would be the Cuyumaca 100k in the San Diego mountains because I just had so much fun.

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Do you have a favorite race distance, and why?

My favorite running distance is the 50 Miler. I love Ultra Marathons but I also really love early bed times and warm coffee with breakfast in my PJ’s as the sun rises. Not to mention I hate bugs and can’t see at night so the 100 miler which involves running through the night is not an interest of mine. I love that in a 50k or 50 M race you get to meet new people, play in the mountains or trails and eat tons of food at aid stations all while making it in time to drink a beer at the finish line and be in bed by 9pm. My kind of party!

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Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?

Currently my only goal is growing our family.

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My husband Matt and I got married a year and a half ago, and we’re really focused on saving money for our future and growing a big family, God willing. As far as running goes its still a huge part of our lives. I feel like all we do is take turns running and watching Kaden or go on family runs together with our baby and dog. I run 30 miles, 5 runs a week and my longest is 12 miles. I’d love to sprinkle some half marathons in there, and hopefully do a full marathon at some point but for now I’m just focused on nursing our boy and running for fun when I can. At first it was difficult to not compare my running to other new or recent post-partum moms because I initially wanted to jump right into training but I really had to step back and just enjoy exactly where I’m at right now. I’m prone to mastitis infections and have had mastitis five times in my 8.5 months of nursing so far so I’ve scaled back and try not to run too long. The marathon is calling my name as soon as I can though ;).

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Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that inspires you?

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:12

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And of course, Isaiah 40:31, But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to start running?

Just start somewhere. Also, maybe try out a running group! I found when I first started, that the runs I did with others flew by and I wasn’t so caught up in the difficulty. Once I got out of my head and talked with people it began to feel fun and the miles flew by! Now anytime my husband and I move we find a local running group and it helps us meet new people and make friends too.

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What running products/gadgets do you swear by?

I’m super simple and usually just run with a water bottle and a Lara Bar and maybe some Nuun in my bottle if I’m running long. Total mom life-I can’t run without my amazing Thule jogging stroller so Kaden can accompany me too! He does all my midweek runs with me in the stroller.

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What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from running?

Apart from running I’m also an avid reader. If you have any good book recommendations please share with me! I enjoy cooking homemade vegan meals for my family, I love hiking and being outdoors and meeting new people. I love a good glass of red wine at night. That’s about it ☺.

Just for fun – what are three things that you’re grateful for?

I am so very thankful for finding my faith in God and that I’m saved by the grace of Jesus. I’m thankful for finding the love of my life and having our sweet boy. Although my day to day isn’t all that exciting to most people it really is a dream come true for me. I wouldn’t trade these simple days for anything. We don’t have a lot of things but yet it feels like I have everything. Thanks for letting me share a peak into my glamorous mom life Charlotte! I love reading your In Her Shoes blogs and I’m always so inspired by all the runners you interview. I’m shocked and flattered anyone would want to see what my running and daily life is like and I hope it inspires someone or is relatable for any other first-time mamas.

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To keep up with Jenn, follow her on Instagram: @jennkafkaruns

Is this your first time reading an In Her Shoes interview?

Catch up with past interviews here!

 

In Her Shoes: Katie Shepherd

The In Her Shoes interview series is back! We’re all about ladies cheering on other ladies. Meet one of my favorites to follow – Katie Shepherd! She is so sweet and she has a special place in my heart as she was one of the first women to wear one of my SGMG tanks when I took the leap with the business. Since then, she has been a source of encouragement to me and is a godly woman that I admire. She is strong and fierce and funny, and you’ll love getting to know her today! 
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Welcome to In Her Shoes, Katie! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. For anyone who might not know you, please give a brief introduction of who you are outside of your running life. 
My name is Katie Shepherd, I am 38 years old and live in Leakesville, Mississippi. I have been married to my husband, Christopher for almost 15 years. We have three children: Aubrynn (14), Addyson (11), and Cayne (7). I’ve been a stay at home mother since Cayne has been born, but I taught fitness classes three days a week for 2016-2017 school year. I had an abdominal partial hysterectomy August 18, 2017 which kept me from returning back to teaching my class. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior March 11, 2001. It’s important for my husband and I to raise our children in a Christian home. God first, marriage, kids, then career, hobbies.
What’s a typical day like in your shoes? 
My mornings are a little chaotic since we got our new white lab puppy three weeks ago. I used to start my day with coffee and writing in my prayer journal. I make lunches for the kids and get them ready for school. If it’s a running day, I run then do all my chores. I’ve been training since I was released to run after my surgery which was the end of September. Some days, I go to the gym and lift weights/crosstrain. Sunday’s-Wednesday’s we are able to eat dinner as a family. My husband owns a restaurant open Thursday-Saturday so those nights it’s me and the kids. I hate to admit, we mostly eat out those nights for dinner or I make something simple. 
How long have you been running, and what made you get started?
I’ve been running for 5 years. I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse at age 23. That was also the year I got married and had my first baby. MVP is a minor heart problem, but comes with some scary symptoms: chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, low blood pressure, and anxiety. I think it’s normal to have anxiety when your heart races or gets out of rhythm. I’ve struggled with it since my diagnosis. My main issues are palpitations and chest pain. Over the years my cardiologist said doing some sort of cardio exercise would help with the symptoms. That was one reason I finally started to run. I started when my youngest baby was almost 2 years old. I could not get the last 10 pounds of baby weight off and one of my fitness class teacher’s suggested running. In February 2013, I found a flier for the “Hippity Hop for your Heart 5k” and decided I would use the Couch to 5k program to train for it. I will never forget “Day 1” of the C25k program. My heart got out of rhythm and my chest started hurting when I tried to run for one minute. I went back to my car after only 15 minutes it scared me so badly. The next day, I tried again and made it the full 30 minutes of the workout. Week 5 I ran for 20 minutes straight and couldn’t believe it. I had never been a runner. I played soccer in high school and never could run the 2 miles required for tryouts. I had to run and walk and remember how miserable I was. Who knew I would find a new passion at age 33 after having three kids?
What was your proudest running moment?
When I became a marathoner. I ran the St. Jude Country Music Marathon in Nashville aka the RNR Nashville Marathon (they changed the name after I ran it and I missed out on the marathon jacket) April 25, 2015. I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon in 2014 and raised over $11,000 with my team for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I raised $1000 on my own for the hospital when I ran Nashville. It was important for me to run for this cause and it helped me make it through a tough race. I trained too hard and ended up injured. I taped my knee up for the marathon and finished in 5:49:45, barely making the 6 hour cut off. My two daughters crossed the finish line with me. By far, my favorite moment ever. 
Do you have a favorite race distance?
I love half marathons because I feel like I’ve accomplished something huge every time I cross the finish line. I am stronger at short distance and can run faster. I am a slow distance runner lol!
My Family at the St. Jude Half Marathon December 2, 2017. My third time to run this half and as a St. Jude Hero
Are there any goals that you’re currently chasing?
Yes, I have been training for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon coming up March 18! It has taken me three years to fully commit and train for another marathon! I’m so excited because I made it all the way through my training and remained injury free! I did miss a few long runs and I made it to 18 instead of 20 miles for my last big training run. I feel very prepared this time around because I only made it 17 miles for my first marathon plus I was hurting. 
[]I took this after my 18 mile run. When you make it this far, you ugly cry. God gets all the glory!
Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that inspires you to keep going?
I draw strength from the Lord during my long training runs. Isaiah 40:31 is my favorite Scripture “For those who hope (trust) in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 
What’s your advice to someone who wants to start running?
 I would definitely recommend using a Couch to 5k program. It worked for me! I would also tell them to not compare themselves with other people or worry about their pace. I will never forget someone telling me I look like I should be a fast runner because I’m a small person. I told someone today that everyone is different and we are not all supposed to be able to run the same pace as others. I can’t run 8 minute miles and probably never will be able to. I think social media can make people feel defeated before they even try because they see so many who are fast and it can be discouraging. Whether you run 7 minute miles or 12, you are still lapping everyone on the couch! 
I just ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon Sunday, February 25 2018 in probably around 3 hours!
What running products and gadgets do you swear by?
I started out with just using a running app on my phone. I like Garmin but really enjoying my Apple Watch because it has a wrist based HR monitor. I wear Procompression Socks and Brooks Glycerin 15’s since they discontinued my ASICS I had been wearing for two years. 
What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from running?
Spending time with my husband and kids. I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like, but hoping to have a girls trip with my bestie this summer. I was a worship leader for 7 years before my surgery. We recently left that church and had to start over. We go to a much smaller church now in our community. We moved to Leakesville over a year ago and even though we are just one county away from where I pretty much grew up, I don’t have many friends. It gets lonely sometimes, but mostly people here tend to stick with their families which I do love. I just miss girl time and adult conversation so much sometimes. Being a mother of three is hard. I would love to start a Bible Study here at my home, but waiting for God’s direction. 
Just for fun – what are three things that you’re grateful for?
My relationship with Jesus. I sure do miss my morning fellowship and quiet time since we’ve had the new puppy, but I know He understands. I am thankful for my marriage. My husband is so supportive of me. He is not a runner, but he sees how it makes me happy. 
15 years is a long time to be married in the world we live in. It hasn’t been easy but so worth it. I do not have much of a relationship with my own father which makes me appreciate the father my husband is to our kids. He always says “I love you,” and he hugs and kisses me and them. My father was not like that at all. I’m so thankful for each of my children, Aubrynn, Addy, and Cayne and the relationship I have with each of them. Being a mother has been my greatest reward in life, but it has not been easy either. I just pray they each follow the Lord and will know the plans He has for them. 
Thank you, Katie, and have a great marathon next weekend! Follow along with Katie’s running journey: @katieshepherd03

I’m Breaking Up With Garmin Selfies

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Picture this:

You finish up an epic, endorphin-filled, long run on a beautiful, warm and sunny morning. You pushed yourself faster and farther than ever before. You crush your goal. You couldn’t do this six months ago. You feel yourself getting faster, tougher, stronger. And you’re soaking in that post-run bliss… nothing can bring you down!

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Until it does.

You cool down, stretch out, grab some water and a protein shake, and mindlessly hop on Instagram (oh, what a terrible habit it is!) only to scroll and see that another girl just ran the same distance. Except way, way, WAY faster than you.

Your parade TOTALLY just got rained on, right? 

Suddenly, you’re not proud of your run anymore. You just feel inadequate – again.

Sound familiar? At least, that’s the way it’s been for me before. Countless times, I’ve hopped on social media wanting to share something I’m proud of, only to be instantly crushed when I feel like my best run isn’t good enough. I got caught up in the stats and the times and the splits and was so focused on what everyone else was doing that I couldn’t celebrate how far I’d come on my own running journey.

If you’re in the Instagram fitness + running community, you know it’s amazing. Like me, I bet you’ve made some incredible friendships and found some serious inspiration, encouragement, and really helpful resources in those little squares. When running is such a solitary sport, the online community can bond and connect us to feel like we’re all on the same team.

But you know what else is tucked away in the dark corners of the Instagram game? Self-doubt, insecurity, and comparison.

And I’m breaking up with it.

I’m not breaking up with Instagram – I’m just breaking up with posting Garmin (watch) selfies and my running stats. No more numbers. I might share how many miles I ran or a beautiful shot of a route I enjoyed, but why get caught up in what the watch says? I’ve got nothing against those of you who post Garmin selfies – I love seeing you improve and cheering you on! But I don’t want my running stats to be someone else’s measuring stick. I never want someone to see the numbers behind my run and feel like they are less than.

Because I know I have felt like that before. I’ve felt like my personal accomplishments don’t matter, when I see girls that are qualifying for Boston or the Olympic Trials and I’m over here just trying to build my mileage up without passing out at the top of every hill. I’ve run long and fast tempos, faster than I ever have before, only to hop on the ‘gram and see that someone else’s “easy” day is still two minutes per mile faster than my best effort. That kind of thing can crush your spirits like no other, if you let it.

And alternatively, I’ve had friends say to me that they wish they could run at my pace, or that they’re embarrassed with their pace compared to mine as they start to build their endurance and figure out this whole distance running thing.

Y’all, that’s crazy. My friends are out there running SO MANY MILES – and a picture of my watch and some numbers just diminished their achievement?!

Your best effort is never something to be embarrassed about. Your best effort is just that – your BEST – and that is something to be celebrated!

All of this comparison, ladies, it just ain’t worth it. I don’t want to play anymore.

I’ve posted lots of Garmin selfies over the past couple of years. And I’m so sorry if my numbers ever made you feel like yours aren’t amazing, just like I know I have when I look at other women, crushing their goals.

Hear me loud and clear – if you are a runner, you are amazing. The fact that you are out there, running at all, is a huge accomplishment that can’t be measured. Numbers are just that – silly little numbers. When we get caught up in the stats, we miss out on the joy that drew us to this sport we love in the first place.

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So for now, I’ll keep taking Garmin selfies. But you won’t see them on my blog or Instagram anymore. I might occasionally send them to my mini-group text of real-life running friends – we do that with each other and I love it. But mostly I’ll just store them on my phone, privately, to quietly celebrate my wins and to not let them be dampened by or dampen anyone else’s.

And perhaps most importantly – I want to run, JUST TO RUN! What a novel idea. 🙂 Not to have something to post. Not to prove anything. Not to get likes. Not to impress. Not to measure up.

My mom (best coach I ever had) used to preach this to us during grade school cross country: It does not matter how fast or slow you go – it just matters that you go.

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Keep running, ladies. Keep pushing past your limits and keep finding your new best.

Did you hear that last one? YOUR new best. Not her new best. 😉

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And don’t let those silly numbers get in the way.