How I went from Sedentary to Marathon Runner x3

Hello everyone!

As I am in the middle of marathon training, I thought I’d share my fitness journey - which is really just my running journey. I went from a sedentary student to Pilates instructor/marathon runner from 2012 to 2019. It’s been a long, slow journey where I’ve discovered so much about myself. That’s my biggest piece of advice to anyone. If you are coming from a non athletic background, take it slow and be patient with your body. So, here’s my journey in chronological order…

This weekend was spent running all the miles, and eating all the carbs 👌👌

Before 2013 (Sedentary)

Before college, I danced at a mediocre level about 3x a week for 2-3 hours at a time. I also participated in marching band (a lot of standing/dancing) and badminton for one season (I was not very good). I rarely walked, biked or incorporated movement into my daily life.

Once I entered college, I was exposed to the concept of a gym and “working out”. For my family, “working out” meant going on a walk around the neighborhood (probably 1/2 a mile). During my freshman year of college, I “regularly” worked out - once or twice a week. Those air quotes exist for a reason. My gym routine was less than an hour and consisted of 10 minutes at a 10min/mile pace on the treadmill (aka 1 mile), and then a stretch and a couple of bodyweight ab exercises. I rarely ventured to other cardio machines and NEVER touched the weights (I was terrified of them). I could barely keep my breath under control for those 10 minutes and remember feeling like 10 minutes was FOREVER. I was introduced to Pilates at this time via Youtube videos and would regularly do them in my common room or my dorm room. I, as most college kids do, began walking regularly to classes. I also went vegetarian for my whole freshman year of college. I didn’t see huge changes in my body but, I started developing healthier habits when it comes to eating, activity and working out. It was a start! Never in my mind did I ever believe I could be a marathoner, or even call myself a runner. I mean, I could barely run a mile!

2013 - Starting my Fitness Journey

The fall of 2013 (my sophomore year) was when everything changed in a big way! I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon and began taking Mat Pilates classes 2-3x a week (1 class was more of a HIIT bootcamp) at a local Pilates studios instead of the gym. My running went from 10 minutes 1x a week to 10-15 miles a week. I still remember the first time I ran 5 miles straight. I was so nervous and didn’t think I could do it. I postponed it for hours out of fear. When I finished it, I was so proud of myself. That was even beyond expectation. It probably was about an hour of running. My Pilates practice went from 10 minutes 2-3x a week to 45 minutes 2-3x a week with the careful guidance of experienced and caring instructors. I still didn’t understand Pilates as a system but I liked how challenging it felt. I felt the changes! This is when I first started to embrace a new lifestyle. I became an omnivore again but became more health conscious - intentionally eating veggies, salads, and more. I became interested in cooking and baking for myself at this time as well.

I ran my first half marathon in 2:45.

2014-2016: From Half Marathon to Full Marathon

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After my first half, the journey continued. I went on to do two more half marathons over the next year before considering a full marathon in the spring of 2016. I made the decision in fall of 2015 to fundraise and run the Boston Marathon as my first marathon. It was a big deal and I was SO scared. I still had the same mindset as I did when I was not active. I was so fearful of pain and of failure. I didn’t know if I could do it and part of me was held back by my mindset. Either way, I persevered and trained with the tufts marathon team. I trained 2-3x a week. Yup. You heard it. One mid-distance run and one long run and MAYBE one short run a week. That’s it. I probably never peaked over 27 miles a week. My goal was simply to finish - and I did! My time was 4:45. I never worked on speed or really my mileage, I just wanted to get through. With the support of my coach and teammates, I did! I was hooked! I never thought of myself as someone who could run far, run fast or do much of anything athletic. Again, part of this was a mindset issue. I underestimated myself constantly and wasn’t completely open to new possibilities. Around this time I also became a vegetarian again (summer of 2015) and over the next few years would become a vegan.

Running that marathon was the best decision I could have ever made. It has transformed my mindset, my perspective and my self belief. I am now someone who knows I can handle the pain, who can work towards goals and succeed. It has made me tougher, more disciplined and more dedicated.

While I was training, I also seriously started training to become a Pilates instructor. I would go for intensive weekends and teach classes at a studio based in the South End. I was dedicated and would teach despite a 1.5+ hour commute and a busy college schedule! My love for Pilates started to blossom and I loved sharing it with others. I started to see how Pilates could be beneficial for athletes - seeing the benefits for myself.

2016-Present: Marathoner & Pilates Instructor

Recovery looks different for everyone. And despite what we believe, it’s more than just the physical. It’s the mental and the spiritual. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Physical recovery from running and working out for me is... ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• stretching and foam rolling (hello @bdysqd) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• drinking water and fueling (still working on figuring this one out, I am rarely hungry the day of a hard workout) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• sleep (last night I got 8 hours and a 2 hour nap during the day 😂) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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Mental and spiritual recovery is a lot different. I find I need to recover from workouts to approach the next day with fresh notification. I need time to rest when emotionally challenging things come my way. I..⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• meditate, pray and journal in silence ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• go on long walks ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• spend time with loved ones and share what’s going on ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• spend a day doing nothing ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
• spend a few hours drinking a latte and having a pastry ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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what do you do to recover?

Now, after my first marathon, I have run two more and am planning on running my fourth this September 2019. I am a full time Pilates instructor (as of spring of 2017) and own my own Pilates business. A LOT has changed but, I can definitely say that running, physical fitness and my journey towards embracing it has been a huge factor in that positive change. Running has made me discover a part of myself I had never accessed previously. I now run 5x a week (about an hour + each run), lift weights, practice Pilates 2-3x a week and do Yoga. Fitness is truly my life.

So, let my story be a push for you to move towards that goal that seems out there. You CAN do it if you put your mind to it. If you are looking to get into marathon-ing, my best advice is to take it slow. Going from 0 to marathon in 3 months is challenging. Take time to get to know your body and your limits. Marathoning is about discovering more about yourself and your body in that season. It’s about learning your limits and learning to push them.

I hope that my story was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or message on Instagram/social media.

Christie Wang