The Strength in the Stride

by Sophie Bergeron

I still remember my mom… She’s shivering and she’s in a hurry to take a hot bath. I still remember the smell of snow and cold as it floats through the house. You all know what smell I’m talking about and it’s one only runners can recognize (well, perhaps skiers too!). She’s coming back from a run.

My parents got divorced when I was a little girl, and my mother had us full time. Running is what she did to relieve stress and to allow herself to be patient with us. And then, during the pandemic, I followed her example. It was a total whirlwind: I was the CFO of a company in the process of being sold, pregnant with two young children stuck at home, a house under renovation and a partner who works as much or if not more than me. Stress and the unknown, it was too much! So I went out, took a few deep breaths and got running. A baby in the stroller, the other 2 on scooters and off we went!

It didn’t take long for me to get a real taste for it and, as I am very demanding of myself, I wanted to improve. Strava became my ally: I could compare each of my races, see my evolution, learn and make sure to follow the programs I gleaned everywhere. It took me a while to want to run with others, even if I got lots of Kudos and wonderful support messages on the app. I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough, that I would slow others down, that they would judge me or find the route boring. But at the same time— As a group, we surpass ourselves, we belong to something.

When I was young, I played competitive sports for a long time. I missed it. By constantly being asked by friends to accompany them, I let go of my pride and I ended up going. Guess what? All of a sudden, I could run a good 45 sec/min faster than usual, while talking! I discovered new strengths. I have exceptional runners around me and I always look at what they do. My partner laughs at me when I exclaim, “Wow, Julien did 2:45 at his marathon!!!”. Seeing people who have big schedules like me surpass themselves, have goals and achieve them, I find that super motivating.

When we are together, we time each other: they go on their slow routes and, me, on my fast ones, and it’s perfect like that! It doesn’t take anything away from me to see their success or their speed, on the contrary, it proves to me that with consistency, discipline, endurance, that I too can do it. I had never done more than 16km when I managed to complete my first half marathon! Seems, however, that doing wake surfing all afternoon the same day and hiking the next day, may also mean that I didn’t push myself enough... 

I keep learning about myself every run, even the bad ones. I will probably never be as good as I would like to be, I have to take into account my reality and my priorities, family outings; and that’s okay too.