For the two years that I have known my fiancé, Nick Monroe, he has raved about this running program he’s a part of called Without Limits. At first I kind of selectively listened to what all he would say about it, that is until I realized that pretty much every conversation we had consisted of something regarding running, WOL, his level two teammates, or when the next race was he was training for would be.
This eventually got me curious enough to drip my toes back into my CouchTo5K app on my phone, that hadn’t been open in a few years, because I definitely couldn’t let my then boyfriend, outrun me, right? He slyly told me about how WOL was promoting their Winter Walk2Run program, starting in December, and how I should consider joining.
My first thought was “ARE YOU CRAZT?!” (Yes, all caps is necessary to depict how insane I thought he was.) My automatic answer was “That’s a negative, ghost-rider. There’s no way I’ll be able to keep up! I can’t even run 2 minutes without stopping to resuscitate myself back to life, right now.” He laughed and said “Just think about it Tayler. I’ll even pay for it. It can be one of your Christmas presents.” Well now that I don’t have to pay for it… Okay, maybe? After thinking for a few days on this horrific sounding feat, I said “What the hell? I’ll do it! I keep falling off the bandwagon with my Couch to 5k app, and maybe this will hold me more accountable… Sign me up!”
I remember that first Walk2Run meeting on a freezing December Wednesday night, nervously going to Hoggard’s track and thinking to myself, “Why am I so nervous? I’m a people person. I love meeting new people and making new friends. What is so intimidating about this? Surely there won’t be any running tonight. It’s just a meet and great and then I can leave.” As I approached the track I saw this big WOL tent and this tall, bearded guy saying hello and welcoming everyone like he was a Walmart greeter! (Here’s looking at you TOM!) I chuckled to myself and thought “Well, at least they’re a lively bunch!”
Soon after getting there our coaches introduced themselves, Coach Maleia and Coach Nina. We did the whole “everyone go around and introduce yourself” thing and then we got lots of information about the program. I remember thinking that I really liked the fact that they let you come out to a meeting (Which I would soon learn was our first practice – yikes!) before you pay for and commit to the program.
After brief introductions, where I literally remembered nobody’s name, Coach Maleia and Coach Nina said we were about to start our first practice. I think I peed myself a little because I was not mentally (or clearly physically) prepared for this running endeavor that was about to take place.
I don’t remember the exact specifics about how far they had us run that night, I think it started off as mostly walking, with 100’s every lap, or whatever you could do. What I do clearly remember is that they never once made me feel like I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t capable. I actually did better than I thought that night and left feeling proud of myself.
This Walk2Run WOL program has honestly changed my life. During the first round (Winter Session) I suffered from terrible shin splints and calf pain. So much so that I had to take about two weeks off from running to rest, just walk, and stretch. During that time Coach Maleia and Coach Nina said “You better still come to practice, missy!” (In the most loving way possible, of course.) Coach Maleia took an entire practice to teach me how to properly stretch using foam rollers, and who would have thought, but also with a lacrosse ball! I ended up liking the way the lacrosse ball felt on my calves/shins so much, that at the end of that practice, she gave it to me. That was so meaningful to me; not because now I didn’t have to go buy one for myself, but because she saw what an impact it made for my body, and she wanted me to not go without it.
Spring session was even better than Winter. I pushed my boundaries, safely of course, and saw improvements I had never seen before. I realized I really enjoyed running intervals and two minute runs were my thing. When I told Coach Maleia my realization, she literally jumped up and down with excitement. I kind of looked at her like she was crazy, but she told me that’s her favorite thing to hear from her runners, when they find their niche. She encouraged me to continue to run at that pace, no matter what the training program said. She gave me so much encouragement that day and I will never forget it.
Every single practice, both Coach Maleia and Coach Nina, have been my biggest cheerleaders and support system. There were practices where I was the slowest one there (Well, let’s be honest, every week I was the slowest one there. Hahaha. I’m the tortoise of the group and damn proud of it!) but Coach Nina would ALWAYS come run beside me to help motivate me and tell me how proud she was of me! Let me tell you, I needed that extra push more than I realized at the time.
During my first 5k with them, I was the last Walk2Run member to finish the race. When Coach Nina realized I was still on the course running/walking, she came to find me and FINISHED THE RACE WITH ME! I still don’t think she knows how much that meant to me. Coach Maleia will always text me or ask me at practice how my shins/calves are doing, how I’m feeling, and ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS cheer me on at practice! It’s the motivation and support I didn’t realize I needed in that moment, until afterwards, when I looked back and figured out, those encouraging words, from both Coach Maleia and Coach Nina, is what helped me finish that lap. And don’t even get me started on when we were doing pacing one day involving pacing. I literally had no idea what that even meant at the beginning of that practice, but by the end, I was running faster than I ever have in my life, just to secretly impress my coaches. I absolutely LOVE making them proud of me!
And let me tell you one more thing, I didn’t realize how special these two ladies were to me (and to Nick) until we were planning our wedding guest list and I immediately added them. I’ve known them for approximately 6 months now and I can’t imagine our wedding day without them. Unfortunately, we have too many people right now, but they are on our “alternate list” and as soon as two people RSVP “NO” – they’re getting added! And y’all know what that means, with Nick being the groom, Shawn Rhodes (level 3) being there, since he’s engaged to my one of my friend’s, and with Coach Maleia and Coach Nina hopefully being there, there will probably be some sort of make-shift Monroe/Robinson wedding WOL 5k! Lord help me, but I can’t wait!
I am stoked to be re-joining Walk2Run this fall! I can’t wait to continue to improve upon my running abilities, as well as spend more time with the ladies I look up to the most, basically my older sisters at this point, Coach Maleia and Coach Nina! If you have any interest in running, or even if you don’t, please please please give Walk2Run a chance! These coaches are AMAZING and will not only improve your running ability, but will improve your self confidence, self worth, and the way you see yourself and others. Give Walk2Run a try and I promise you won’t be the same person you were when you joined – you’ll be a much better version of yourself. Remember: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. But most importantly, always remember to #EmbraceTheChallenge and that you are #WithoutLimits!Posted by