Susan Wagner, 44, Freelance Writer and Editor, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Why do you run? I run for a lot of reasons: health, peace of mind, fun. But I think what keeps me going is the challenge of trying to run faster or farther — or both. It gets me out of the rut of my day-to-day life, which is pretty much just the same school lunches and loads of laundry and work projects, over and over.
How long have you been running? I started running almost three years ago, on my 42nd birthday. Honestly, it was my response to a small mid life crisis. And it worked out pretty well, I must say.
Do you compete? Tell us about that. I run quite a few organized races — in 2012, I ran four half marathons, plus some 5 and 10k’s — but I don’t know that I run them particularly competitively. If anything, I’m competing with myself, not the other runners. My goal is just to finish strong, and maybe finish faster than the last time I ran that particular race distance.
Most challenging aspect of running: The hardest part of running is just doing it, consistently. There are a lot of days when I don’t want to run, when it’s a slog to get my shoes on and get out the door, but when I’m finished, I’m never sorry I went out. Ever.
Most fun aspect of running: The last mile of a race, when I know I’m going to finish, is always the most fun part of running for me.
Most rewarding aspect of running: The most rewarding aspect of running is knowing that I’m strong enough to run long distances. I ran 16 miles recently and it was no big deal — it’s still cool that I can say that. It’s also nice to know that I’m setting a good example for my sons, and that I’m taking care of my health by committing to regular exercise. But really, I just like knowing that I can run really really far.
Who/what inspires you when you’re feeling weak? My husband is a cyclist; he’s been riding, on and off, for the entire 20+ years we’ve been together. I’m inspired by his consistent commitment to his sport, and by the joy it brings him. He’s also my biggest supporter — without his help, I couldn’t organize my schedule to accommodate my training and races, and he always has faith in me, no matter what crazy thing I’m doing (running two half marathons in three weeks, for example, or adding swimming to my race training). The commitment he has made, to his sport and to mine, is really inspiring to me.
Advice for others who’d like to get started: Be kind to your body; give yourself time to get used to running. Don’t expect to start Couch to 5K this week and finish a marathon next month. But don’t forget to challenge yourself — push harder, go faster, run farther. You really can do it.
Your must-have equipment for this activity: I’m a minimalist runner; all I really need are my Mizuno running shoes, my iPod shuffle and my $12 digital sports watch. No fancy GPS watch for me! And no phone, unless I’m running long miles on a trail far from my house (and even then I use the “do not disturb” function because I hate it when people are calling or texting me during a run).
Favorite training song: Right now, it’s “Scream and Shout” by Will.I.Am and Britney, but I’m a big fan of anything with a good beat and some totally inappropriate language.
Favorite healthy food: My favorite healthy food is oatmeal, made with milk and almonds. I eat it every single day.
Favorite not-so-healthy food: I’ve been on a big Sonic tater tots kick lately. But that really needs to stop.
Funniest /weirdest/most awkward experience gained from running: I ran the last leg of a relay for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon a couple of years ago. It was freezing cold and had rained every single step of my 10K. Two of the other girls on our team met me about five blocks from the finish and ran in with me. Just as we crossed the finish line, it started to hail — we were being pummeled by golf ball-sized hail stones. I think the fastest I ran that day was the crazy sprint to the first aid tent to get out of the hailstorm. And then I called my husband to tell him I was done and the first thing he said was, “Did you see the hail???” Yes, yes I did.