Ana’s Inspiring Journey: From Bookworm to Passionate Runner

Ana's journey from a book-loving introvert to an enthusiastic runner showcases the transformative power of embracing fitness and finding the right support system.


The Unlikely Runner

I’m Ana, also known by my pen name, TheLadyInBlack09. I wear many hats: a writing workshop facilitator, radio drama scriptwriter, book author, and enthusiast runner. My journey began in stark contrast to the typical athlete’s narrative.

Growing up, I shied away from sports, finding solace in books instead of engaging in physical activities. The stigma of being perceived as weak and overweight plagued me, leading to a reluctance to embrace fitness. I faced incessant bullying for my perceived shortcomings, which fueled my aversion to exercise. Consequently, I succumbed to an unhealthy lifestyle, grappling with weight gain and health issues like acne.

Despite the challenges, I found refuge in writing, using it as a means to rejuvenate my creative spirit and alleviate stress. Previously, during bouts of writer’s block, I’d resort to either sleeping or overeating. However, I discovered a new outlet: running. Running became more than just a form of exercise; it became a catalyst for refreshing my creative mind. Through sharing my running journey, I aim not to boast but to inspire, debunking the myth that weakness is immutable. I firmly believe that everyone possesses untapped potential and that it’s never too late to embark on a journey of self-discovery and improvement in any aspect of life.


The Turning Point: Embracing Fitness

I started running back in 2018 while still working at a BPO company. My shift started at 8 PM and ended at 5 AM. By 5:30 in the morning, I would go for a run around MOA. At that time, I ran to lose weight because I was a bit heavy, almost over 60 kg. Initially, I wasn’t very serious about running; I just wanted to lose weight. But I don’t think it worked out because eventually, I stopped.

In 2020, I began my fitness journey, doing home workouts since the pandemic limited outdoor activities. Like many others during the pandemic, I experienced anxiety and didn’t know how to cope, especially with stress. That’s when I started doing home workouts not to get fit but to release my stress and anxiety. It helped me cope and became an outlet for my stress.

As the pandemic eased and people started going out again, I began walking and doing short runs. I remember there was a time when I walked home, just a 3 km trip, after buying medicine for my mom. It was raining, and I felt a heavy burden while walking. I suddenly burst into tears. I don’t know why, but maybe the burden was just too heavy. Then, when my mom passed away in 2022, it became even heavier.

That’s when I became addicted to fitness activities, especially running. It became a huge help for me to release stress and sadness. When I couldn’t write for my job, when I felt lost… All I needed to do was change clothes, put on shoes, and run, even for just 30 minutes wherever my feet took me. And afterward, my creative mind would be refreshed, my stress relieved, and I would feel lighter.

Challenges Along the Way: Overcoming Criticism

I grew up without any hobbies related to fitness or sports. I was always indoors, eating, working, and sleeping. I enjoyed staying up late and indulging in unhealthy foods, which led to being overweight. When I started working out and running, I quickly got tired. I always felt weak. I wished I had started working out or running earlier, not now that I’m an adult. I also want to become stronger and faster in running. I want a better version of myself, so I underwent running training. I’m so proud of my small progress that I always post it on my profile and social media. I worked hard for it and pushed myself even though I know it’s easy for others who are sporty, strong runners, and already fit. Whereas for me, my progress is just starting, slowly but surely, but I’m extremely proud.

However, I’ve heard and read conversations where a coach belittles my progress. They are mocking my progress in running. They say I’m proud of such small progress too soon. As a sensitive person, I was deeply hurt because I’m genuinely proud of that small progress. I worked hard for that progress for myself, not for them to laugh at. I felt down, and I felt weak. I felt like I’m improving too slowly, just like what they’re saying. Suddenly, I felt out of place in the running community.

Finding Strength in Support: Joining Team SOAR

At first, I was really hurt by the negative comments from the running coach and the stronger runners. As a sensitive person, I couldn’t help but feel hurt because of the mocking remarks I read about my running journey. But still, I continued training and told myself that I would become stronger no matter what. I didn’t need validation from others because I was doing this for myself – for my own health, physical body, and mental well-being.

I found a team that felt more like a family than just a running team – the South Active Runners, Team SOAR. They made me feel like I was not just part of a team but a running family that would help me improve not only my running and endurance but also my self-confidence. Coach Cris Paningasan, along with the whole Team SOAR, showed me that there’s no such thing as being too late to start with fitness. There’s no late age for anyone who wants to improve themselves, whether it’s in lifestyle, career, self-confidence, fitness, or life.

The true game-changer has been my running family. Their support goes beyond just tracking progress; it boosts my self-confidence and proves that I’m capable of more than I thought possible. Although doubts may linger, their consistent reminder is crystal clear: my journey begins and ends with me.

They’ve taught me that self-belief, dedication, and having the right support system are crucial for success. With their encouragement, I’ve learned to embrace the process, understanding that every small step forward adds up to significant progress. With their backing, I’ve developed the resilience to keep going, knowing that slow and steady leads to meaningful outcomes. And despite occasional doubts, they’ve reminded me that I have the strength to overcome any obstacle as long as I remain committed to my goals.

The Transformation: A Newfound Confidence

I’ve become more confident in myself. That’s where I realized that age and time don’t matter; it’s all about self-determination and how we approach our goals. Before, I just wanted to lose weight, that’s why I ran. Now, I run to enjoy and for my mental health. It refreshes my mind and imagination so I can write.

I have a lot of goals in running, but as Coach Cris says, “Slowly but surely, each training session brings us closer to our goals.” Progress shouldn’t be rushed; even if I can’t see progress right away, others can see it in me, and I’ll feel it eventually. My self-confidence has grown, and I’ve realized that I can do more. There are more achievements waiting for me. Remember, it’s never too late to start your journey and chase your dreams. Every step forward, no matter how small, is progress towards a better you.

Growing up, I faced weight issues and struggled with endurance in fitness activities. As someone who preferred indoor activities, I wasn’t naturally athletic and easily tired during workouts. Despite being new to running training, I entered the fitness world to prioritize my health as I aged. Entering the fitness or running community wasn’t easy for me, unlike others who were naturally built for sports. I had no knowledge whatsoever; I was completely clueless, so I really struggled at the beginning and had to push myself. I easily got tired and lacked determination.

But when I started running for myself and for my mental health and peace of mind, that’s when I began to enjoy everything, especially when I met the right people to accompany me. These people knew how to help me build not only my endurance for running but also myself as a person. As a writer and a novice runner, I’m still dedicated to evolving in both of my passions. That’s why I am grateful for the genuine individuals I’ve encountered in both the writing and running communities, who have unwavering belief in my potential for growth. They remind me that it’s never too late to pursue our passions and strive for advancement. Remember, every step forward, no matter how small, is progress towards a better you.

A Journey of Self-Discovery

To those like me, aspiring to enhance their fitness or any other aspect of their lives, don’t be discouraged by negativity. No matter when we start changing our lifestyle, it’s never too late because at least we’ve begun and we’re continuing. We’ll hear a lot of negativity from others. Many may try to drag us down, and many may mock our progress, but remember, we’re doing it for ourselves and not for them. We want to improve ourselves, not for their worthless validation. Let’s appreciate ourselves. No matter how small or big our progress is, let’s appreciate it because we worked hard for it. We’re doing this to improve ourselves. Even if it’s a small achievement for others, let’s appreciate it because we’ve worked hard for it all. Surround yourself with supportive individuals and remember, progress takes time and is a personal journey.

It’s never too late to start your fitness journey and rewrite your story. Regardless of age, the journey to a healthier you starts today. It’s never too late to take that first step towards a better tomorrow. Remember, every step forward, no matter how small, is a step towards progress and a better version of yourself. Keep moving forward, and never give up on your goals. And always remember, you have the power within you to make the changes you desire.

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