By Whitney Price
(I Pooped Myself and I’m Proud of It)
I joined Southwest Endurance Training during the height of the COVID pandemic in late 2020, on the suggestion of a friend. I figured that maybe beyond helping me meet a running goal that I’d had for quite some time, I’d make some friends.
When I first joined, I wanted to run a 10k. I had no other goals beyond that. I am, objectively, a sub-average runner. I started with the Running Start 5k group with no aspirations or time goals. And it was during this time, that I was introduced to a brand new concept for me: walk/run intervals, a total game changer. After Running Start, I asked the coaches if I could move up, and they told me that I absolutely could. That I should go for it.
My first 10k training session culminated in a SWET-supported unofficial race. There were no “real” races scheduled at that point because of the pandemic. It rained the entire time I ran and I looked like a drowned rat at the end. But I had achieved a long-held goal!
After the 10k, I ran in STaT (Strength, Track and Trail) where I tried trail running for the first time. I had no idea what my next running goal was. I continued to be objectively kinda bad at running. But I kept doing it. So I anxiously asked the coaches if they thought I could run a half-marathon. They told me yes, I absolutely could.
Many of the training runs for the half-marathon were hard for me. I asked my coaches near weekly if they thought I could do this, and I asked myself regularly what the heck I was doing. I cried when I finished. Never in my life could I have predicted that I would run 13.1 miles.
I completed a second half-marathon, and SWETHogs,a group aimed at heat training. I’d done two halves, and I felt like I had a choice between stagnating where I was, or trying something that I was convinced that I absolutely could not do –
But if I was going to go for a marathon, I was in the best physical condition I could hope to be in. I also hoped that I could balance a full-time job with being a good dog-mom and training. So I asked the coaches if they thought I could do it. And they told me yes, I absolutely could.
I started training for a marathon in Fall of 2022. I spent a lot of time on my feet. My dogs got a lot of exercise training with me. I faced heat, cold, and one time even pooped myself (horrifying at the time, but I own it now). I also regularly questioned if I could run a marathon.
In February of 2023, I crossed the start line and still was not convinced that I had any business attempting this distance. At mile 20, I definitely felt like this. But then, I finished. My objectively-slow self had finished a marathon. I could not have been more proud and happy.
When I first joined SWET, all I wanted to do was run a 10k. But I got that and then some – I met some of the most amazing, welcoming and inspirational people and ran farther than I ever thought I could. I could not have accomplished any of these goals without the coaching I received, and I had no idea how empowering this group was. Ultimately it is the mental strength that I have gained from my endurance training that has made all of the difference for me.
The coaches are fond of saying “You can do hard things.” I now say this a lot to myself during a run and during my daily life when I am facing something challenging. I tell myself, “You ran over 26 stupid miles. You can do hard things. You can do this.”
If you’re on the fence about running; if you want to meet some awesome people; if you want a major dose of empowerment – come run with SWET. Hard things are hard – but also you can do hard things.