Anna Lane Maltby is one of the happiest runners we know and she always seems to find that runner's high. We asked her a series of questions to find out what running means to her, the most rewarding and the toughest aspects of running, and how it has changed her life.
Read her story in our Runners Essentials Athlete Profile.
Growing up, I was never considered an athlete and never really enjoyed participating in sports. I remember dreading PE class because I never felt like I fit in with the other kids or that I could perform at their level. I barely squeaked by in the presidential mile, panting and wheezing my way to finishing the 12-minute mile.
I struggled with drugs and alcohol as a teen and young adult and didn’t know how to cope with life. Once I got clean I realized I needed something positive to chase, something fulfilling and self-esteem boosting to fill the void the drugs had left. After several years clean I found myself in a very dark place again and I knew I needed to do something different or I was going to use again. I turned to running as a way to clear my head and sort through all of the chaos that was my mind. I found that when I was out there putting one foot in front of the other I was able to sift through all the thoughts running through my head and it helped me to align with myself again. Running has become very meditative for me. Running gave me back what the drugs had taken.
I had no idea what I was doing when I first started. I bought a pair of shiny pink Nikes I thought looked cool on Amazon and would run around the neighborhood until I couldn’t breathe anymore, usually less a couple of blocks at a time. A co-worker mentioned a running club he was a part of and encourage me to come out and try it. I took him up on his offer and went to the UNCW track for my first group run. This particular run was an all-levels run with people of all speeds and abilities. They were stretching and talking about tempo runs and paces and using terms I didn’t’ know the meaning of. I was terrified. I left during the warmup because again, I felt less than and not worthy enough to run with these athletes.
I didn’t give up though. I came back to a beginner group and started actually getting to know these athletes. I started going to practices regularly and was eventually talked into signing up for my first half marathon, the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon. I still didn’t believe I was a real runner because I wasn’t as fast as some of the other runners and I didn’t look like the stereotypical runner. What I soon learned, was that there is no stereotypical runner and if you run, you are a runner.
I ran that half marathon and something happened to me in those 13.1 miles. My thoughts and beliefs shifted and I started to believe in myself again. I continued running with Without Limits and I started to believe maybe, just maybe, I was capable of more. With the help of my coaches and teammates, I started pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and I liked it.
Even after completing marathons, an Ironman, and a 50K, I still get those feelings of not good enough. Not fast enough, not strong enough…not enough. I had heard people say running was a test of mental strength more than one of physical strength and I never understood what they meant until I actually started running. My mind will start to give in long before my body does. My mind will tell me that the pain is too much, that my legs cannot possibly continue on, that my lungs will surely burst at any moment if I continue. My mind will come up with an array of excuses to convince me to stop. The biggest struggle I face with running is deciphering fact from fiction within my brain. There is no greater feeling than that of conquering my own thoughts. That is my runners high, my breakthrough moment when I could very easily give up and call it quits but I don’t, I continue on.
Every morning I wake up at zero-dark-thirty and run when I’d really rather sleep for another hour makes me stronger. Every time I leave work and run in the southern summer heat when it feels like I’m running on the surface of the sun I get stronger. Every time I lace up and go outside I win another little battle within and I become stronger. Those little victories aren’t something I can buy, those only come from continuing to push myself past my perceived limits and keep moving forward towards my goals.
Runners Daily Vitamin has been such an amazing addition to my running. I can tell a noticeable difference in my sleep quality and in my energy levels during the day. My joints feel stronger and more capable and my recovery time has been cut in half. I don’t wake up sore and achy and my muscles don’t cramp during tough workouts. I have PR’d every race since starting with RDV. It’s hard to imagine how I was able to perform without them before.
I have the Berlin and Chicago marathons on tap this year and I recently signed up for my first 50-mile race in January. 5 years ago, I never would have even imagined I’d be running a marathon, let alone 2 world majors with a 50-miler chaser. I couldn’t have even told you how long a marathon was back then. Now, I believe in all kinds of dreams. One of my loftier goals is to qualify for the Boston marathon. A goal that terrifies and thrills me at the same time. I now truly understand that if my dreams don’t scare me, they’re not big enough, and I like to dream big because I know I’m capable of achieving big dreams.
I’m just over here turning dreams into goals and then reality.
Q & A with Brenda Estlack, Local Running Legend and Inspiration
For the Endurance Athlete…Surround Yourself with Great People for Great Performance
Tom Clifford - Elite Endurance Athlete and Coach on Runners Essentials Daily Vitamin
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