Running: Taking Me by Surprise

Megan Englebrecht Running in Prospect Park Megan in Prospect Park

By Megan Englebrecht

I was your occasional treadmill runner. 2.0 – 2.8 miles at a pace of 6.4 tops. Running, I thought, was dull and difficult. Between the years of 2006 through 2009, I would schlep to the Irving Place NYSC after work with the rest of every young professional, living between Murray Hill and the East Village. With me, I carried every piece of my day. I would wait in line, dreading when it was my turn run on that loud, shaky machine. My brain reeling with the coulda-woulda-shoulda’s of my life.

My treadmill jogs were completely dependent on my iPod, and the music video playing on VH1. Beyonce I found motivating, Fox News I did not. And because of the strict 30 minute rule during peak hours, I skipped any attempt at a warm-up and went for my fast pace immediately off the bat. Ten minutes in and I was uninterested, winded and distracted by what the “real” runner next to me was watching on CNN. An inner dialogue took me over.

“That runner must run races, maybe even marathons. They are running at 8.0 mph!...Should I have sushi or another one of Amy’s organic, frozen dinners? Can I even afford sushi tonight?...Is that Lindsay Lohan on CNN? How does she have time to make movies, go to court and stay so svelte?! Ugh.”

“I am not a Runner,” I told myself.

It was during this time, too, that I told myself, “I hate my job, and I am not the kind of person to up and quit my career for work that is more creative, fulfilling and beneficial to the community in which I live….I mean, I’m already 26 years old!?”

I think I might have prayed for something in my life to change. A change of some kind started to easily blow though my life when I found yoga, again. I was casually committed to a yoga practice in college; as a former dancer my body took to the movement, the choreographed sequences, and the student-teacher dynamic. The difference between then and now was that I needed yoga. Yoga gave to me a connection between mind, body and spirit. I learned to breathe in a fast-paced, chaotic and uncertain city. I gained back confidence my body, in my strength, in my grace.

Yoga crept into my life in other ways, too. And though the two may not be inextricably linked, I ended up quitting my hated job. I attained a certification in Pilates, and began to grow with the company lululemon. Somehow living outside of my comfort zone began to feel…good.

“Who am I?” I joked with friends and family as my life transitioned into something different. Even though up until a month ago, “I am not a Runner,” was still in my vernacular. The universe must have heard my declaration, because it introduced to me my run coach, Jessica Green.

“You are a Runner,” Jessica said to me. “No, I am not.” Thus began a series of motivational emails that left me with no choice but to try, yet again, an attempt to run. And run I did [at one of Hot Bird Running's Tuesday night Brooklyn Bridge Park Group Workouts]. We started slow in the Brooklyn Bridge Park, at a ten-minute mile pace. She broke up our 3.5 mile run with some strength training; my strong suit from all the yoga. Somehow she made running light and easy. I didn’t focus on the heat, on the heaving of my lungs, nor the beginnings of a cramp in my side waist. Instead, I looked out to the Brooklyn Bridge and appreciated the view of a city that I love. I met Emma, a lovely new mom in the neighborhood who used to run marathons! I focused on Jess’s persevering positivity and explanation of tricep dips on the park bench. I actually had fun.

That was a month ago, and I am still running on my own and with Jess. I joked about signing up for a race. Then I actually did sign up for a race.  Rock 'n' Roll New York 10k in Prospect Park October 22nd! “Who am I?” The answer seems to be always-changing. In this life, living outside of my comfort zone, I surprise myself everyday. And it feels pretty good.

Megan is the Showroom Manager at lululemon athletica Brooklyn. Megan is from Cincinnati and now resides in Williamsburg. She is a yogi, runner, foodie, wino and creator of Possibility.