Running is a Gift

TORONTO. July 25th. Digital Champion Catherine Azoulay was reintroduced to running after a long hiatus due to major back surgery. Running is an integral part of Catherine’s daily life and when she is not in a courtroom trying a case, Catherine is promoting her love and passion for running by coaching beginner and intermediate level runners. STWM has been on Catherine’s bucket list and will be her first full marathon run on Canadian soil. Connect with Catherine on Twitter @marathoner514.

Running is a Gift. By Catherine Azoulay.

Like the majority of people, I run for fun! Yes, we all have specific reasons why we run, be it to get in shape, lose weight, raise money for a charity, cross “marathon” off your bucket list, but bottom line is, it’s all about fun…well…it’s supposed to be.

For me it was about re-discovering running. With the goal of running my first marathon, I joined the Montreal Chapter of Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. My training goal was to run my first marathon in Rome, Italy in March 2011.

Today, after having successfully reached that goal, I can say that running a marathon was no doubt one of the most incredible, life-changing experiences I have ever had. I could continue this post talking about how wonderful it was, but I would rather talk about how it was a difficult, character-building, and life-altering experience.

As I embarked upon marathon training, I was prepared to make training a priority and implement all the changes necessary to ensure I was being as effective as possible. In the early stages, I became injured and pursuant to medical advice, I was forced to take my training indoors…to the “dreadmill.”

Close to 800 of the 1000km I ran in training were run on a treadmill, even my 33km long runs! Needless to say, this was not easy. In fact, it was incredibly difficult. Marathon training in ideal circumstances is not easy, but having to train entirely indoors seemed an insurmountable task.

I decided to view this curveball as a blessing in disguise. I saw it as a golden opportunity to focus on my mental training. I began to change my way of thinking to learn how to face obstacles, and unexpected detours, and keep my eye on the prize. I focused on why I chose to start running, why I registered for the marathon, and how I could continue training in the face of these new and unexpected challenges.

As I was putting in the hours on the treadmill, it was easy to focus on the pros of the situation: not having to look for a bathroom, staying warm when it was snowing and minus 25 outside, not worrying about my water bottles freezing. In this context, my short runs were a breeze!

On my longer runs, I will admit that my mental resolve was not as strong. That little voice inside my head was very loud and it would constantly question me, saying things like: What have you gotten yourself into? There is no way that you can do this!

During a particularly challenging 28km run, as I was on my 3rd hour of running, the mental desire to stop was overwhelming. Besides the fact that I am not a quitter, I told myself that I needed to learn from this challenge. I had to find a way to keep going. Suddenly it clicked in my head: the treadmill is my friend and it is here to teach me a lesson and give me the tools necessary to rise to the challenge of completing my first marathon! Despite the challenging circumstances, I chose to run and I would continue.

I began to think of all the people who would do anything, give anything, to have the gift of being able to choose whether or not to run. Deciding when and for how long you will run is truly a privilege and a gift! I realized that I was blessed with this gift of running and I vowed that I would not only complete this journey, but have fun doing it.

These thoughts fueled me through my tougher training runs and eventually propelled me to the finish line, despite my knees giving out on me 15km in. It was a difficult journey, but I would do it again. Why? Because running is a gift! It is a gift we give ourselves and should never take for granted because the benefits we reap from this gift are not only endless, they are priceless. The point of this story is simple: you can do it!

At the finish line of the Rome Marathon

I wish everyone participating in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon a great success. Remember to have fun, savour every moment, and enjoy the entire experience, no matter how difficult it may seem during those final few kilometres. Focus on how far you have come and what it took to get you to the start line, because 42.2km is the end of a journey which will definitely leave you wanting more! Don’t forget to cross the finish line with a big smile – you’ve earned it!

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One Response to Running is a Gift

  1. Wow, can’t believe the timing of this post as it echoes exactly what I was thinking at the end of my training run today. Sometimes we forget that running is a gift. After a few frustrating runs this week, I finished today’s run at the beach in Fitzroy Provincial Park. I had the water to myself and was able to do my stretches in the cool river water. It was stunningly beautiful out and it suddenly hit me – what a gift each run is. It was a moment of peace and clarity that I won’t forget. I will draw on the memory during those tough runs that invariably come to us all.

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