Community Discovering My Love for Running and Making the Impossible Possible: Just Run

    Discovering My Love for Running and Making the Impossible Possible: Just Run


    ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re running for the first time, stepping out after a long break, or trying to rekindle your motivation, it’s a new day and a new start. You don’t have to run a certain number of days a week or a set mileage. All of this is irrelevant. You do you. You can do it. Just run.’

    I didn’t feel like a runner when I pulled on my cotton leggings and a hoodie. Despite my self-doubt, I laced up my old, uncomfortable running shoes and headed out, seeking a mental break from the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    I live in Lincolnshire, England, but I was born and raised in Estonia. Sport wasn’t a big part of my childhood, so my mom found it amusing when I started running. Someone who would do anything to avoid PE was now running for fun.

    I had brief periods of running during my teens and twenties, but I wasn’t consistent and didn’t truly enjoy it. However, as I achieved milestones—running my first 5K, 10K, and half marathon—I still questioned whether I could call myself a runner. It wasn’t until I trained for and completed my first marathon, running solo, that I began to see myself as a ‘proper’ runner.

    Running a marathon had seemed like an unachievable goal for me, so when I accomplished it, I felt compelled to document my journey. This led me to start writing a book. I discovered that writing and running are quite similar; both require resilience and determination. Neither is easy, but with effort, progress comes.

    Running was the catalyst for me to switch to a plant-based lifestyle, a change that has had profoundly positive effects on my health and recovery times.

    Despite facing several injuries, I am grateful for them because they pushed me to start strength training and prioritise proper warm-ups and cool-downs. I’ve learned the importance of these routines and the benefits of cross-training, which I now incorporate regularly. Cross-training isn’t a punishment; I find it enjoyable, especially cycling and walking with my dog.

    I also discovered canicross with my 3-year-old standard schnauzer, Jack. It hasn’t been always easy, but it has strengthened our bond and become something we both look forward to.

    Running has introduced me to new friends, boosted my confidence, and provided a way to spend more time outdoors. While it hasn’t cured my depressive episodes, it has equipped me to manage them better. Through running, I unearthed strengths I never knew existed.

    In just over four years, I’ve achieved a lot: running two marathons and two 40-mile ultras, qualifying as a run leader and coach, and fulfilling my teenage dream of writing a book.

    Currently, I’m embarking on my next challenge: training for my first 100-mile ultra. It’s a daunting goal, but one that excites me and pushes me to new limits.

    Merili Freear is an ultrarunner, running coach, and author of the running memoir Just Run: Discovering my love for running and how the impossible becomes possible. You can find her on Instagram @meriliruns.