Find Your Stride
Nicole Aguilar of Nikki Nurtures, Finding Her “Stride”!

I don’t think there is anyone that’s in the middle when it comes to running. You either love it or hate it. I was one of those ones that hated it. Sure, there are some naturally great runners, but I think most people have to work for it. Running the mile in high school was always the worst day of my life. I wasn’t fast, I couldn’t breathe and I was always in pain afterwards. I was the student that got an “A” for effort and an “F” for time. I didn’t understand how people could breathe through the running. How are you that fast? Don’t you feel like dying? Am I that out of shape? Granted, I was always a little chubby growing up and didn’t play sports, but I was in the Marching Band; played piccolo. Clearly, I had good lung capacity.

The idea of running was always one that I liked. Lace up your sneakers. Pull your hair back. Put your headphone in and start running. The wind hits you in the face and you forget the world. When I got to college, I tried this process of running again. College for me was in Savannah, GA and Forsyth Park was THE perfect place to run… if you could actually run. I would go to the park every so often and try to run… the operative word here is “try”. It was like high school all over again. I felt embarrassed at the face that people would see me start to run and not be able to make it a block. I’m sure no one was really looking at me, but in my head, everyone was saying ,“Wow! Look at that fat girl. She can’t even run a block”. That’s when I started telling people who would want to run, “I’m not a runner”.

I met my boyfriend in Hollywood and we bonded over our love of working out. We both had lost a substantial amount of weight. He t old me that he loves running, to which I replied, “I’m not a runner.” He basically called bullshit and said that anyone can learn how to be a good runner, so he took it up on himself to teach me. We basically started running stairs and short distances around town, adding more stairs and distance, as it got easier. I bitched and complained A LOT while we were training, but something in me didn’t want to be a quitter, so I huffed and puffed my way through each workout. We started doing mud runs together and I think that’s where I really started to find my love for running.

After a year or so, I convinced myself I could do a ½ marathon which is 13.1 miles. We picked a race in Long Beach, right along the coast, so we knew it would be flat. It was a great pick for a first time ½’r. Here is my testament to all of the couch to 5k and running training schedules they have online…. THEY WORK. If you put in the work, the program will work. I was running about 5x a week with varying distances, building up to 13 miles. I was having some trouble with my knees, so the longest distance I ran before the race was 7 miles. I don’t know if it was the flat terrain, the adrenaline, or the training, but I managed to run my first ½ marathon in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I wasn’t incredibly fast, but I let go of the competition and just focused on me. I focused on my breathing, my stride, cadence and the fact that I was doing what I told myself I couldn’t do. Whether you run for 10 minutes or 2 hours, enjoy the time. Don’t worry about speed or distance, just focus on the act of running and

the world will fade away.