Written by Ashley Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto

Why do you run? Four weeks into training for my first marathon “why do you run” is a question I’ve been asking myself frequently. The answer varies somewhat but always present in someway is “because I can”.  We’re now four weeks into RUNLAB 2.0: The Road To Scotia and looking for the answer to the “why I run” question is as easy as looking at the members of both this and the previous round of RunLab.

RunLab 1.0 has many success stories, Mary Higgins is one of them. Mary is one of those people you want to have around you - positive, happy, funny, infectious laugh, with all of the good stuff and none of the bad.  In the first round of RunLab Mary tackled a full marathon distance for the first time, and she crushed it. Here’s Mary’s story.

Why do you run?                                                                                                        

 I started running at a very low point in my life. I was recently sober and struggling with finding myself and feeling alone. Running was the only time I felt at peace and it helped me meet new people and build confidence. Today, running has connected me with the most amazing people and is incredibly important for my mental, physical and spiritual health. I was running with a crew before joining RunLab and this program felt like a natural extension of that community, supportive vibe.  

What prompted you to join RunLab?                                                                    

I had been taking Jenny's metcon classes, they are incredibly empowering and I was seeing an improvement in my races as a result - joining RunLab pushed me and gave me the tools and support to train for my first full marathon.

How did your running change after completing the training program?           

My long runs definitely changed- I didn't believe I could run those distances and the people in RunLab helped me get over that doubt and fear.

 Mary and her pacer Altaira running through Crew Love Corner during the GoodLife Marathon. 

Mary and her pacer Altaira running through Crew Love Corner during the GoodLife Marathon. 


What was your your biggest takeaway?                                                          

 My favourite part was training with other people working towards the same goal, it was so amazing to see everyone push themselves and progress every week. The biggest takeaway for me is how much more I commit to something when other people are there, we motivate and hold each other accountable. I never could have done those long runs on my own!

What do you enjoy most about running with a group?                            

It gets me out of my head and is super motivating to witness people's running journeys.

What advice would you give someone thinking of joining RunLab and tackling a distance they've never ran before?                                            

You can do it! Don't overthink it, just show up and try :)

What does #inthis2gether mean to you?                                                             

We don't need to do those painful long runs alone!! It means I'm supported and accountable.

Was RunLab successful in helping you achieve your goals?                              

Yes! I didn't commit to signing up for the marathon until running a few times with RunLab, talking to people who had trained for marathons and running a few long runs with them helped me feel supported and believe that I could do it.

Now that you'd crushed a marathon, what's next for you?                                   

I definitely want to give back and help other runners on their journey. My training goal for this round is to get faster and run a speedy half.

I was listening to Dr. Jack Daniels (yes, that’s his real name), a legendary, world famous run coach, speak last fall and he said something that stuck with me. “Give every run a purpose” - before you head out the door you must be clear to yourself what the purpose of the workout is whether it’s increasing your aerobic capacity, spending time on your feet, or simply clearing your head, know the purpose. Knowing the purpose keeps you on track, focused and honest. His message extends far beyond running, think about it.

Why do you run? Look in the community around you, runners like Mary are a perfect example of why I and many others run. RunLab 2.0 is filled with stories like hers - people tackling firsts, looking to crush PB’s, running simply because they can - each story unique, each story inspiring. Over the remaining weeks of RunLab (12 to be exact...YIKES!) I’ll be sharing RunLab member stories. Training can be tough, but knowing that there are others experiencing similar “pains” as you makes every step a little easier. We really are #inthis2gether.

Happy Running! :)

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