As I said in my recent post about Melissa Lewis, I am part of a phenomenal mutual admiration society fan-girl club of Cherokee women scholars. We keep tabs on each other (and our brothers) at ThinkTsalagi. Julie Reed co-hosts ThinkTsalagi and holds down our Penn State outpost.
Julie has brilliant takes on everything from politics to mom stuff to running, as you will see below. Her humor is quick and razor sharp. Her research is truly cutting edge as you will see in this quick read in Smithsonian Magazine. For a longer read, take a look at her book: Serving the Nation.
What excites me the most about Julie’s talents? It is way past time for the Cherokee story to be told by Cherokee citizen historians. She’s the leading authority in our generation poised to get it right. We owe a debt of gratitude to the works of Grant Foreman + Rennard Strickland and others, but finally, it’s our time. Period.
Julie’s health journey and nuggets of realistic running wisdom:
“I pretend to be a runner. When asked about my physical activity, this has been my go-to answer for years. I answered this way because I am not fast, I am not a natural athlete, I am definitely not skinny and I have struggled with my weight since I was nine. And yet, when we pretend long enough, we start to become that thing. This pretend runner has “competed” in Sprint Triathlons, completed one marathon, ran two ½ marathons the year I got pregnant with my daughter (15 years ago).
My only prize for my running beyond completion medals or ribbons was a coffee mug from the Cherokee Nation in the early years of the 5k at the Cherokee National Holidays. It was sparsely attended then and it had an Athena division, or as I often referred to it, the chubby woman division. I had the best time in the Athena Division. I have longed to be that pretend athlete a lot in the fifteen years since my daughter was born, but age provides some perspective.
Since I turned 40 a few years ago, I realized I needed to break up with the “pretend” runner of my past in order to ensure the existence of the future runner I want to be. A knee injury on my one runs at the beginning of the pandemic forced me to physical therapy, which was long overdue because I was also ignoring a reoccurring ankle injury. Shifting perspective about the running goals I set (whether because of injury or age or any number of other reasons) has enabled me to think of myself as a runner now, who aspires to be a runner in the future. Who knows, if I’m still running at 90 maybe I’ll get another coffee cup for oldest participant.
I have always run because of the positive feelings I associate with running. For years, those positive feelings connected to changes on a scale. Now, I look more to my blood pressure numbers or how my clothes feel. To riff on something I have heard Candessa Tehee say, I am outrunning diabetes.
Running has always made me feel better mentally, spiritually, and physically (probably the endorphins, but I’ll take it.) On days I accomplish nothing else on my to-do list, I can check that box on my run, regardless of the distance or time. Running enables me to acknowledge that my body and my mind have a symbiotic relationship, albeit more hostile some days, but ultimately more connected and intimate most days.
I have given up on Personal Records (PRs) and running the entire time in long distance events. Instead, I run intervals (for example, run for 7 minutes, walk for 1). I used this method the last time I ran a ½ marathon and I intend to use the same method again when I run the Cherokee Harvest ½ Marathon this September for the 2nd time. And in recent years, when I have been away from running for a period of time, I treat myself like a new runner when I return. I tackle a couch to 5k, then move on to a couch to 10k, then I modify interval plans for the ½ marathons.
For those of you considering becoming a runner, or faking until you make it, I support you.
Here is link to the plan I intend to use for this year’s Cherokee Harvest ½ marathon and links to some free apps that I have also used.
Pretend to be a runner long enough and you will be.”