By: Tracy Armstead
Running has always intrigued me. As a chubby child, I was not encouraged to be active outside of the mandatory gym class. I used to watch runners in the park near my school and admire their graceful form. Always envious of the freedom that running seemed to bring them. Throughout the rest of my school years I remained attracted to running but conceded to the thought that running was something people my size couldn’t possibly do.
I first became serious about physical activity after finishing college. I joined a gym and spent years focusing on cardio and strength training. During this time I started listening to my inner athlete and became aware of how I could train my body to respond to a variety of activities. Still, running eluded me.
My love affair began with a one mile walk/jog in Prospect Park one morning 3 years ago. I didn’t expect much, but knew that I wanted to be outside and I wanted to feel free. I knew I was not as fast as the others. Knew that I might never be. As I watched runners pass me by the envy I felt in past years was replaced by a sense of camaraderie. I thought to myself “I belong here too!”
Within the past year I have incorporated running into my life. I run about 10-12 miles a week with walk-run intervals when needed. This method works for me and I have worked up to a faster pace because of it. I am still humbled by the support I receive from other runners. One “great job” or “keep it up” makes me smile.
There are plenty of women and men of different shapes, sizes and abilities who are out there running with me. I no longer feel like an outsider hoping to be invited to the party. I can finally say with confidence: I am a runner.
Tracy Armstead has been committed to fitness for almost 20 years with various excellent and not-so- excellent patches along the way. She has been running for about 3 years but only in the past year has she really made it part of her life. She is a member of BGR! NYC (Brooklyn, Prospect Park).