Hi everyone! It’s such a pleasure to be asked to be the guest blogger for this month and I hope you won’t get too bored by reading about running. Eric’s decision to run across the US inspires me to reach for my dreams, so to be a part of his blog is a wonderful experience for me. My message I wish to convey to you by the end of this “article”, “own story” or whatever you may call it is to accept yourself, seek your goals, personal growth and to move “your ass from home” even if the forecast says it will start raining or snowing! Don’t look for excuses, just do it!
Let me introduce myself first. My name is Gelija and I live in Lithuania. A cold, freezing country at this time. If you use Instagram you can simply find me by typing @run_geli. I am not promoting myself, don’t worry 🙂 It’s just a part of my story I want to share with you.
Run Geli Run!
When people look at my page they ask “Geli, so how did this all start?” or “How can you be so crazy about running when it just makes you sweat, die and feel like you are just about to have a heart attack?”. This makes me smile. My journey started in 2014, you know, when teenagers have a crush and something goes wrong. Looking back it makes me laugh but at that time this was the reason for me to start running. Back then, I didn’t know anything about the differences between footing, fartlek, interval training or the right choice of HR, etc. I ran because I liked it. Then, my participation in running events started (I had already forgotten the crush by then for sure:) ), and my first competition resulted in a 3rd place in my age group. It was only a 2.5 km distance but it felt like I held so much power in myself. “Hey, people, watch out, I can do it!”. I could do it but I was not aware about how running affects our muscles, what is the value of the right nutrition and so many other things which can lead to further success in any sport. So this inspiration for running actually stayed until it got cold outside. “I can’t do it, it’s snowing”, “It’s too cold”, “It’s too windy I might get sick”, and I could go on and on with those excuses:))
Then the winter came and I had to leave my home country and visit Australia for a year.
How can you be so crazy about running when it just makes you sweat, die and feel like you are just about to get a heart attack?
I am not a professional. I am not an elite. But I am a crazy girl! Crazy about running, Crazy about Asics, Crazy about Suunto, Crazy about running holidays and Crazy about race kits:)) The second chapter of my running journey was my stay in Australia. You know when people say “When I on holiday I will run long runs and fartlek and I will do all possible sport activities”, and in the end it turns out that they end up doing everything but training 🙂 My stay in Australia was no different. When I arrived I had 3 friends who motivated me each day to take my bicycle, go to the gym and go home. This lasted for 3 months, although a limited knowledge of nutrition resulted in gain of fat. At that time I did not realize that sport with wrong nutrition leads to no changes of body shape. I ran in some events for fun but it was just to remember what I actually liked before. Due to the 13 kg I gained there my results were bad, but I was so happy because it is just impossible not to be happy in Australia!
I love my country but like most places there are some things I could criticize. And here is one – people are crazy about their looks, and people are likely to judge on those looks. When I got back from Australia with all that extra weight I didn’t feel bad until I tried to put my old clothes and they did not fit. Based on the image society holds of a “beautiful, good looking girl”, I felt that I did not belong to it anymore. So I went on a diet. For 3 days I ate boiled chicken, 3 days fruits, 3 days vegetables. No sweets. No oil. No products that would contain bad fat. I lost a bit of weight and joined a gym, although I had no clue why my body would not lose as many kg as I would like it to. Eventually I just learnt that I don’t need to concentrate on the image I am expected to have based on other people’s opinions, I have to be myself, to love my body the way it is.
First Half Marathon
This is my favourite chapter in my story 🙂 So, in March 2017 I decided – I need a challenge. I had run 5 km and 10 km distances before but how about running a half marathon I thought! I researched lots of training plans, information and, luckily, I got a chance to be looked after by Remigijus Kančys who is a Lithuanian Olympic athlete! He helped me with a plan and provided all of the information I needed and I will be thankful for him for a long, long time. So, I started running again. I was running 4-6 times a week including trainings and races. I learnt about footing, fartlek and interval training. I actually learnt how to run, how to have a balanced diet, and how to actually fall in love with running. That’s what actually happened. I fell in love with it, more and more every day. My favourite thing to do would be to enter a race, my favourite shops became all sport related, and I became obsessed with my Asics running shoes. Believe it or not, I wanted to wear them literally EVERYWHERE. My circle of friends changed slightly and I met some wonderful people I would have never met without running.
This half marathon proved to me that I can do anything if I seek my goals and work hard for it. Distances such as 21 km, 42 km, ultra marathons require psychological strength, it’s not only about the physical abilities. I have learnt how to train my psychological strength, how to fight with my weaknesses and move forward. I now apply this in my daily life too. To achieve something I need to “work my ass off” for it :)).
I actually learnt how to run, how to have a balanced diet, and how to actually fall in love with running.
First marathon and @run_geli
And here I am! At the age of 19 I want to complete my first marathon. Some people say it’s crazy as most people do it in their late 20’s or 30s. But I believe I can do it. Until September I have 7 months left to prepare. I know I will go through the “American Rollercoaster” with the ups and downs, and it’s okay to go through it, everyone does. But I must make sure I follow my plan and use support when I need it the most.
I have created my Instagram page @run_geli. And I am so glad to happy all those people that follow me, sponsors that support me and my friends who actually contribute to who I am now. This January I also joined the RED January project which is a fundraising project for mental illnesses in which a small contribution could be made to help others. If you are interested then you can see more about it here.
To conclude, believe in yourself and don’t think about the image that society had created of a “perfect” person. Being ourselves makes us unique, yet perfect. Follow your goals, having a plan for whatever you want to achieve and feeling supported can result in some amazing things that you never thought it could achieve. I hope you will join Eric’s journey or support him by fundraising for his challenge! Who knows maybe one day you will decide to run across the US too :))