By Contributor Allison Tai
I wasn’t always the “fit” girl… the one who everyone asks for advice on toning this or completing this goal. In fact, for most of my life, I was just the opposite. The last picked for team sports, the one weaselling out of gym class, the girl who always went missing on track and field day.
As a horse crazy girl, I spent most of my days letting someone else do the running. Sure, it’s a sport and it takes muscles most people don’t have – but it’s not marathon running. When I went back to school as a mature student, I started jogging to stave off college weight gain. It snow balled from there: making the national team for cross country, winning the provincial road race series overall.
I realized that my whole life I thought I was terrible at running and sports in general… since most sporting activities involved short distance running. If I was consistently the slowest person in the bunch at the short distances, I figured running longer would only widen the gap. Turns out that I was wrong. Even running competitively I would be the last one out the gate but slowly and methodically be able to pick the tiring speedsters off one by one. It’s like I couldn’t run fast enough to tire out. And it still is.
I did a marathon.. and a 125km ultra marathon called the Canadian Death Race. I did two Ironman distance triathlons, and placed second in my age category at one. People started seeing me as an endurance athlete. I started seeing myself as an endurance athlete.
And in less than a few minutes, everything changed. Everything.
I was hit while riding my bicycle at highway speed. I broke my back, pelvis and arm. I couldn’t roll myself over in bed. I couldn’t dress myself, feed myself or even sponge bath myself. It took me months to be able to walk around the block.
I had worked so hard to become that “fit girl” to others and to myself. And I had to work five times as hard to get it back.
As soon as I could hold a book up I studied. I earned my group fitness and nutrition and wellness specialist certifications. And as soon as I could walk I started coaching. I was lucky enough to be one of the pioneers in the “bootcamp” movement and had the opportunity to introduce fitness into the lives of people, like me, who had never known it… and people that had lost it somewhere along the way.
Since those days, I have completed races from triathlons to marathons to 24 hour obstacle course races. I have felt the pride and glow of standing on the podium. I have also felt the unparalleled joy of seeing a client cross the finish of their first 5k race. Without my accident, I am not sure I would have ever gotten to feel that immense connectedness to someone else or their achievements.
We all have obstacles on the road to a better us – but if we just keep on, we might find more than we ever could have dreamed!
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