I’m super-excited about today’s Rockstar Runner, Brittany Tyson! She’s turned her challenges into inspiration, and has one of the best approaches to running I’ve ever come across. In her own words: “I love it because it’s something I know I can’t fail at.”
That’s really the heart of it, isn’t it? Put your shoes on and head out the door, and you’re already a success. Love it!
I grew up with my nose in books, always the big sister to the ‘sports star’ little sister. I eventually went to the military where I met my ex-husband who turned out to be mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive. After my daughter was born, I left my ex-husband and moved back home to Delaware, where I met my current husband and am very happily married. I was medically discharged from the Air Force after 5 years and 1 month because I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. So life hasn’t been awful to the point that I can’t stand it, but I have definitely questioned it sometimes. Within the past couple years though, I have started going to church and appreciating what I have and the happiness and love I have more than I ever thought possible; and as corny as it sounds, most of that is a result of finding my love for running!
How/why did you start running?
I started running on and off about 4 years ago to try to lose weight after having my daughter. I told myself I was trying my hardest, but I wasn’t. I ended up not running or walking, or anything at all for a while. Then, about 2 years ago, I got so fed up with my ex-husbands voice in my head, and hearing all the things he used to say to me, I started crying…..after I was done crying, I started running. I didn’t make it far, maybe a mile or so. But, when I was done, I felt better than I had in a long time. So, I started with maybe two or three days a week I would go for a run. Then, I was running more often and trying to increase distance, or on shorter runs I would try to decrease my times. So although it started out as trying to run from my past and the voices in my head telling me I can’t, I now run just because I can. Because I want to, because it makes me feel good. It’s now about making me happy rather than escaping.
What do you love about running – what keeps you coming back time after time?
I love that I hate it some days. I know, that sounds so backwards. But seriously, there are days that I just have such a BLAH feeling towards the run. But every time I feel that way, I force myself to run anyway; because the sense of accomplishment, the ‘I DID IT EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T WANT TO’ feeling is such an exhilaration and high that can’t be found anywhere else. I love that I can run inside or outside, or in the rain or heat, on a trail or the road. There are no rules at all. I love it because it’s something I know I can’t fail at. Even if it’s a ‘slow’ run for me and I might be down on myself for a few minutes, I eventually realize, it’s still getting up and moving; it’s still doing something, and being alive and feeling free. I keep coming back time after time because it’s my way of proving to myself that I am not who my ex-husband told me I am, and that I’m not just a ‘disease’.
How do you get yourself out the door on days when you’re just not ‘feeling it’?
I tell myself – okay, maybe no run today, maybe I’ll just walk. I know a walk is easy, so I’ll get out there and start walking. And, it will never fail, I start walking, and I say ‘screw it’, Brittany, you know you can run this, you do it all the time…..just run. It doesn’t work all the time, but for those days, I put on some killer music, or the movie 300 on my tablet, and hop on the treadmill and at least walk/jog for my ‘minimum’ time (30 minutes). Either way, I’ll find a way to force or bribe myself into it when I’m not feeling it!
Do you have an inspirational and/or funny running story (or stories!) to share with us?
Well, I look back now and think, well that could have been a lot worse, but when it happened, I was honestly laughing at myself for the rest of the run! I was doing a virtual 10k race on a treadmill at my YMCA. I got about 2 miles in when I had a Cataplexy attack (Narcolepsy with cataplexy is a disabling sleep disorder affecting 0.02% of adults worldwide. It is characterized by severe, irresistible daytime sleepiness and sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), and can be associated with sleep-onset or sleep-offset paralysis and hallucinations, frequent movement and awakening during sleep, and weight gain.) I was able to catch my right leg and arm on the side of the treadmill, but my left side didn’t regain the muscle as quickly and I fell off a moving treadmill! My first thought was oh no, I hope no one saw that, I don’t want to be on YouTube!!! But, instead of looking around, I got right back up and finished the remaining 4 miles, and faster than I thought I could. I think I wanted to get out of there I just kept going as fast as I could at times to just be done and leave!
How has running changed your life?
Running has given me a confidence I didn’t know existed in me. I have grown as a person, and become so much happier with everything in my life because of running. It gives me the freedom to think over situations before reacting. I can run off my stress and anger. It gave me an extra push to quit smoking (8 months ago!!!) As a whole, it has just made me a happier, healthier person.
What words of wisdom do you have for brand new runners?
Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t compare yourself to other runners. It will always be your race, your pace!
What are your favorite inspirational blogs to follow?
I love reading Jill Angie’s blog!!!! Through Jill’s blog I also found The Fat Girl’s Guide to Running blog that has had some amazing inspirational posts. I also have recently started following NYC Running Mama’s blog, just another running mommy, another perspective. It’s nice to see what other people go through.
Have you ever been injured running, and how did you recover?
Yes, well first off, I skinned up my leg on that dang treadmill fall caused by a cataplexy attack! But, that wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle!
During hell week, at boot camp, I was participating in a rucksack run and rolled my ankle pretty badly. It probably could have been very minor, however, I was given some ibuprofen and had to continue to run. So to this day I still get pain in ankle during my long runs, but I still get through my runs alive. I have seen my doctor about this, but because it’s not too serious, and it is an old injury, there is really nothing I can do, except wrap it to help during the long runs and don’t force through it if it gets too painful.
What running gear do you think you can’t live without?
My phone!! Honestly – between my music and my GPS – I don’t think I could make it through a run without it!!!! But next to that, my new Asics Gel Nimbus sneakers!!!! They are like running on air!
What’s your favorite race distance?
Considering I have never raced anything longer than a 10k at this point, I’m going to go with that. However, by the end of this year, I will have put in some longer distances, and hopefully will be working towards a marathon by either the end of this year or in the beginning of 2016!!! (Never ever thought I’d want to run in a marathon!!!)
What was your favorite race?
My favorite race so far is the first race I ran. I ran on a team with two of my aunts and my little sister in a local 5k mud run, and it was AMAZING!!! Once I was done I was so proud of myself! I think that started the addiction to the races!
What are your top 3 songs to listen to when you run?
Imagine Dragons – Who We Are
Miranda Lambert – Little Red Wagon
Awolnation – Sail
Treadmill or outdoors?
Either or – depends on the babysitting situation as the gym has a babysitting room for my daughter to go to!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I am always up for a virtual running partner, or just to be there for words of advice or encouragement if anyone needs it!
How can we find/follow you on social media?
Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational story, Brittany!
If you’d like to read about other Rockstar Runners, click HERE.