I've been a recreational runner for as long as I can remember. When I moved to Charlottesville 18 years ago I began to meet others in the local running community and signed up for local races, which were a blast! Running, especially on trails, always helped me to stay healthy and fit, and was a great stress reliever. Eventually, I worked my way up from 5K's to a marathon, which felt like quite an achievement at the time. Running was fun and it made me feel great.
Over the past few years, however, my enjoyment of the sport had waned. Injury after injury sidelined me, and when I could run I felt weak, sore, out of breath, and (most of all) defeated. I gained weight and suffered from back pain, plantar fasciitis, and aching knees. Running became a chore, and most days I had to force myself into my running shoes and out the door. I worried that my running days might be coming to an end.
When I first met Ann and Jason, their method made so much sense and I was excited for the possibility that it might work for me... but I worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up in the classes. Ann assured me that I'd be able to manage, and that gave me the confidence to give it a try. I was relieved to see that I really could control the pace and intensity which allows everyone in the class to get the most out of it, regardless of fitness level. As I was improving my strength and endurance, their guidance in the classes made me realize that I also needed to work on my form and my focus. Within one month I was participating in up to 5 classes each week. 4 months later I feel like I've gone back to the person I was years ago, when running and exercise made me feel confident, fit, and energized rather than exhausted and unhealthy.
Every month, I've been able to increase my baseline pace and my weights and repetitions, and I see and feel clear benefits. I've lost about 15 pounds, but even better than that is feeling that my body has become stronger and more toned. My posture has improved, and my clothes fit me better. At home, I can run up the stairs carrying bags of groceries without feeling winded. I sleep better and have more energy and motivation throughout the day. The soreness in my back and knees is largely gone. My stress level is lower, and my general level of confidence has improved.
The greatest benefit I've noticed by far, however, is that I have my love of running back. Running the 10 Miler several weeks ago was more fun than I've had in a race in years. I'm excited about the upcoming spring and summer race calendar, and I feel confident that my workouts will help me continue to enjoy the sport for years to come.