Feature Friday: Don't Think, Just Run

Every Friday we chat with one of our blog content network contributors to find out what most inspires them to be fit and find adventure every day.

This week we're chatting with running and fitness blogger Leanne Richardson.

Leanne is a wife, mother of three, and a Beachbody Coach. In addition to blogging about her own fitness journey, she also coaches people online by providing them with fun workouts and encouraging support.

Read on to find out the inspiring story about how she fell in love with running, what inspires her to keep going, and what happened when she accidently forgot her gear while traveling to her first ever marathon.

The Active Times: How did you first become involved in running?
Leanne: After my mother passed away from breast cancer my girlfriend suggested that we participate in The Weekend To End Breast Cancer, a 60km walk over 2 days.  I ended up participating in it the 7 years that it took place in my home city. Somewhere after the 4th year or so the walking turned in to running.  I enjoyed the "alone" time that running gave me as well as the sense of accomplishment when I set goals for myself and then achieved them.

What are the wisest words you ever heard about running?
A quote comes to mind.  "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." John Bingham.

Often, it's the registering for a goal race that terrifies me the most. Once I'm registered, I'm pretty committed. I will push myself to follow a plan and put the hard work in. Only an injury or unexpected circumstance will cause me to not reach that goal. So when I sign up, it means that I'm doing it!

What spurred you to start your blog?
I think it was to connect with others online, to help encourage the "average" person to believe that if they wanted to do something, if they set a goal, figured out a plan or schedule to achieve it, put the work in, then they could achieve anything they set out to do. I also wanted to journal my own journey as I set out to achieve my own personal goals. In part, it was also for accountability. To say "out loud" what I wanted to do and then work towards getting it done. I now post my training schedule, more for me as it helps me get the runs in so I can post that I did it, instead of reasons why I didn't.

Describe in 140 characters or less how you judge the success of your blog.
I think if I'm able to encourage someone, better yet inspire them to dream big and set some goals for themselves, then that would be successful.

What is the greatest joy you get from running?
I enjoy so much about running. I love the challenge it gives me, mentally, physically and spiritually. I feel strong and empowered after I've completed a tough run or sometimes by just getting out the door when I really didn't feel like it makes me feel proud that I've accomplished something.

What's one thing many people don't know about running?
I have a lot of non-running friends who can't understand that the competition often isn't with someone else but instead you're competing with yourself. Running is about personal goals, accomplishments, PR's, running a race just for fun. Most of us run without expecting to win the race :) We are there to beat ourselves or achieve the particular goal we had for that race.

What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome while running?
Probably when I forgot my entire running gear when I went out of town to run my first marathon. I had a choice to not run or go out the night before and attempt to purchase all new gear (a big no for any runner is to run in new gear). I bought all new gear and completed my first marathon the next morning.

What is the one mistake you've learned the most from?
Forgetting my marathon bag :)  My family was travelling with me and there was a lot to pack in the car. I've learned that I will personally carry out my own bags and my marathon bag will likely sit at my feet!

What advice would you give to someone trying running for the first time?
Be patient. Learn to run. Give yourself time to build a solid base to help avoid injury. Walk/Run programs work and they help you build up slowly. If there is an opportunity to take a clinic on running form then do it. Learning proper form early on can spare someone from a lot of injuries.

What is the one piece of kit or equipment you'd never be without?
Probably my phone. I like having it for safety reasons, but also I use it for music and run my runkeeper app from it. I can run without it but it is the one thing I almost always have with me.

If money were no object, what piece of kit or equipment would you buy?
Wow, that is a tough question. I think I would just like an endless supply of shoes. If I could get sponsored for shoes I think that would be a huge accomplishment. Shoes are so important as they allow you to continue to push your limits, but it can get expensive to keep replacing shoes.

What is the one book everyone should read about running?
Running for My Life: On the extreme road with adventure runner Ray Zahab (by Ray Zahab).

Who do you think is the most inspirational figure in running?
My inspirational runner is Ray Zahab. He is truly remarkable.

 Are you passionate about any activities besides running?
Not as much. I do like a good strength training workout, I appreciate what yoga can do for me (and running) and most recently I started cycling for cross training and do enjoy it.

What is your favorite quote, and what do you so like about it?
"Don't Think; Just Do"— It came out of training last fall. Some days I would spend too long debating with myself whether I was going to run outside or inside. Should I run now or wait till later? I was wasting time with the battle in my head so one day I just said "Don't Think; Just Do". I knew what my plan was for the week. I knew I had to run, so just go and do it.

What is at the top of your bucket list when it comes to running?
Currently, it is to run the Dopey at Disney in January 2016. But I know there will be something to replace that when I get it done. A big bucket list goal might be to run the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim.

What, if anything, did you most recently knock off your bucket list?
August 2014 I ran my first official trail run, 23km. I was crazy nervous as I had very little experience with trail running and had no idea what to expect. I think I love it more than road running.

What is your least favorite word, and why?
I'm not sure about a word but least favorite phrase would likely be, "you don't really have a runner's body".

What would your life be like without running?
I honestly cannot imagine. I've been injured twice with stress fractures and couldn't run for 12 weeks both times. I thought I'd go crazy. If something happened where I couldn't run, I trust I'd learn to deal with it and find something else that gives me pleasure. But I wouldn't want to and it wouldn't be easy.

Where is your favorite place to be?
Home, with my family.

Learn more about Leanne on her blog, leannerichardson.ca.