Friday, March 12, 2021

Featured Follow: Linda Signal, @lindasig_runs

This week's Featured Follow is determined, tough, and 100% badass. I think I first found Linda's Instagram (@lindasig_runs) via the Skirt Sports Ambassador program. I was excited to follow her because her page straddles the line between professional influencer and everyday runner; while Linda definitely has a large following, she still strikes me as a down-to-earth athlete. I never get the sense that she looks down on hobby runners and back-of-the-packers.
Linda's feed is dynamic and exciting. In her running photos, she's strong, poised, and grinning; the views are amazing and the sponsored posts feel genuine. You get a feeling that Linda truly believes in the things she promotes, and that if you take her advice and try a product, you won't be disappointed.

I read Linda's responses hoping to find the secret behind why seeing her posts makes me feel so inspired, and I came away with an understanding that this is a woman who follows her passion, gives her all to her goals, and never takes the easy way out.
Some of her responses brought me to tears as they brought back memories of triumph and determination in my own running journey. Her running origin story is deeply moving and relatable; you can read about it below!

Section 1: Getting to Know You

Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in California on the Central coast. I am a Christian wife, Mom of two young men, full-time teacher, and runner. My hobbies are running and hiking. I grow roses, and I am a little bit of an amateur astronomer.

Pre-covid, were you a racer? What’s your favorite distance, and what is the first race you’d like to do when races open up again?
I was definitely a racer pre-Covid. I’ve been running for about 12 years. I raced 5Ks for several years. I ran a lot of halfs and several marathons. I had just begun running ultramarathons before Covid. 

My long term goals before Covid were going to be to sub a 3:30 in a marathon over the age of 50 and to run a 50 miler. 

I enjoy most distances. My least favorite distance is the 10K. It feels like the all out effort of a 5k, but it lasts twice as long. 50K was the distance that I was most looking forward to running.
What does your running look like these days?
I run almost every day, but my volume is significantly decreased. I am hiking with my family more than ever. This is mostly because we are all home together. They won’t run with me, but they will hike with me. I’d rather hike with any member of my family than run alone.

What role does running/fitness play in your life? 
I always say that I could live without running, but I don’t know how I could orchestrate my life without hiking or just the ability to get outdoors.

Section 2: The Deeper Stuff

What is your running origin story? When did you start, and why?
I discovered fitness in the late 80s, and I embraced fitness as a way of life. I had my first child at the age of 30, and it all changed after I gave birth. We did not live near family, and my husband and I worked different hours, days and shifts. It left both us acting as single parents. My desire to workout was non-existent. I found myself overweight and dissatisfied. I thought that my problem was that I needed to lose weight.
In my 20s, fitness was not about losing weight, but I had forgotten what fitness had brought to my life.

One day, as I was taking my kids around to different sports practices, I saw a woman in the park with 7 or 8 people working out. I stopped the car and got out and asked them what they were doing. The woman running the workout said that she was teaching boot camp. She invited me to join them. I immediately said yes. Her name was Gina. 

Boot camp with Gina in the park changed my life. It reawakened something in me. Since the park was close to my house, I started jogging to the class. That is why I started running. At some point I ran a 5k. I have no idea why I did it or even when I ran my first 5K. I’ve run so many 5ks that the memories are not easily distinguished. 

I had never played a competitive sport, so I didn’t know that I was a competitive person, but it turned out that I was. I loved everything about training and running 5ks. From the time I ran my first 5k, I didn’t stop racing until Covid cancelled racing for me. I ran 5ks exclusively until I basically met my 5k goal. 

I always thought that I could get faster, but I had started running half marathons and halfs took over my focus. Halfs are a great distance. I had told myself that I would not even consider running a marathon until I had run 1500 miles the previous year. One year, I just accidentally ran 1500 miles, so I decided to run a marathon. 

That marathon training cycle training was an incredible experience. When I approached the start line, it was the first time in my life that I truly felt that I had won before the race started. It truly didn’t matter what happened. That was the second beginning, because I realized that racing was about the training and less about the race. 

A race triumph lasts a really tiny amount of time, but the training is what is life changing.

At what point did you feel you could call yourself a runner?
I don’t remember, but it was pretty obvious to me and everyone else pretty quickly. I think maybe, at first, I equated running with speed. Someone must have told me that all running, regardless of pace, is running.
Is there something you struggle with in particular when it comes to running/fitness?
Things have changed a lot over the years. At first, it was believing that I could and/or should do it all. A lot of women believe that dinner has to be cooked and on the stove and everything has to be planned out before they go on a run. The truth is that my husband didn’t have all of those expectations, but I felt like I had to do it all. Now, I struggle with adapting my training to the changes that come with aging.

What do you love most about running?
I love the cathartic aspect of running. The act of running relieves my stress. After a run, bad feelings subside. Negative feelings like anger, frustration and worry are less are less pronounced after I run.

What is something running has taught you?
I knew I was tough. I knew that could be disciplined. I discovered that I have an innate desire to set goals for myself and then push myself to meet them. I’d much rather PR than win a race outright. Don’t get me wrong. I am not fast enough to win any race or a first female, so there is no possibility of that happening, but if it were a possibility, I’d take a PR over a medal any day. 

In truth, winning a race, isn’t about you. It’s about the competition. There are a zillion people faster than me, so the only question is who is showing up. A PR is about me.
Share your hardest running moment.
I got lost on a trail race. I think it was a 50K. I was out of water, and I wanted to cry. I ruled out crying, because I thought it would be a terrible waste of water. 

I was about as frustrated as a person could be, but I went over my options and decided on a course of action. It was probably one of my proudest moments, too. I faced my fear and I was decisive. I’m someone who second guesses everything, so knowing that when the chips are down, I am capable of making the choice and moving forward made me feel good.

Running the Boston Marathon was also incredibly difficult. I felt so much pressure because for the first time in my life, people were watching me. Any pressure that I had ever felt running before that was only the pressure I put on myself. My husband, kids and friends were proud of my running accomplishments, but they didn’t really care about running. They care about me, so they care about running in that it is something that I love. 
I never felt an expectation from anyone to do anything or accomplish anything related to running, but this was different. My kids were watching, my husband had been bragging for a year, my students, my friends. It had even been picked up by a local newspaper. 

For the first time, running was related to other people’s expectations. 

The race was incredibly hot that year, and I pushed myself to the brink. I was so glad to see that finish line.

What is your proudest running moment?
I won my age group in a pretty big marathon, and I PR'd. My body was beat up, but I asked my husband to go check the board, because I didn’t know if I had actually PR'd. He called me on the phone to tell me that I won my age group. I was such an awesome moment, because it was completely unexpected.

How has running/fitness changed your life?
I have met the most awesome people racing and training. I have traveled. I’ve set goals and accomplished them. I set goals and failed. I have endured injury and triumphed. I’ve made great decisions. I’ve made terrible decisions. Running IS life!

What is a non-running accomplishment you’re proud of?
I’m probably like everyone else. I’m proud of my family.

Section 3: Favs and Feedback

What is some advice you’d give someone who is interested in starting to run?
Consistency is the most important aspect of training.
Do you have a favorite running item or article of gear to recommend?
I am fortunate that I am able to be an ambassador for great brands. Headsweats visors are awesome. I love Ultimate Direction packs and Roadrunner Sports VIP program is top notch. It allows you to actually run in a shoe and return it for store credit if you don’t like it.

What is your preferred running shoe?
Hoka Clifton is my go-to shoe for an easy run, but I like a lot of different brands, and I have different shoes for different workouts. The most important thing about a shoe is the fit. You should know from the very first run whether or not a shoe is going to work for you. Shoes should be comfortable the moment you put them on your feet.

I don’t run in barefoot shoes, but I am big believer in barefoot (like) training and strengthening your feet. I like to work out, hike and walk in Vivobarefoot. I do some running in them too.

Recommend an essential accessory you think every runner needs.
Shorts that don’t chafe. That means different things for different people, but you need to find clothes that minimize chaffing.

Linda's responses really struck a chord with me, and I have to thank her for sharing so openly! To dive deeper into Linda's story and keep up with her, you can follow her on Instagram and follow her blog, here. She's a beautiful writer; I especially love reading her race reviews.


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