261 fearless

Our own Katy Johansson, Body Back instructor, ran the Boston Marathon one week ago. Qualifying, and training, for the Boston Marathon takes determination and fearlessness. Our entire FIT4MOM family is incredibly happy for Katy and wowed by her achievement. In the midst of celebrating the outcome of her hard work, traveling back home to Washington and recovering from the race, she wrote a great recap of her journey into running that we want to share with you.

katy runner.jpg

(Katy meeting her hero, Kathrine Switzer. In 1967, Kathrine became the first woman to enter and run the Boston Marathon. A race official tried to forcibly remove her from the race yet she still finished. She has dedicated her career over the last four decades to creating opportunities on all fronts for women.The number 261 (found in the title of this blog post) is Kathrine’s bib number from the 1967 Boston Marathon. Women from around the world have been wearing the number 261 because it makes them feel fearless in the face of adversity.)



for the majority of my life, i didn’t consider myself a runner.

growing up i was a gymnast, so i had always been flexible and fairly strong. but i had also been top-heavy, which made running uncomfortable. (thank goodness sports bra technology has changed since the early 1990s! )

the truth is, for the longest time, i never wanted to be a runner. i didn't feel particularly motivated to run because it simply wasn't enjoyable. and i thought people who did like it were: 1) liars; and 2) crazy --especially those long-distance types.fast-forward to present day and it's hard to imagine my life without it. running is my therapy, my stress-relief, my alone time, my drug of choice. added bonus: it is one way i can be a role model for my boys.and yet if you had asked me even three years ago if i ever thought i would run a marathon -- let alonequalify for and run in the boston marathon -- i'd have said, "hell, no!"

enter two things – aside from will and henry – that altered my life forever: candyce lund bollinger's parenting classes, where i: was encouraged to take care of myself for the benefit of myself AND my family; and -- life-changer number two -- met kim bauer, who had decided to bring a fit4mom franchise to the olympia area.

through taking and teaching stroller strides, and later, body back, the self-esteem i had lost by not going back to my office job after will was born started to come back. i was pushing my body to do things i didn't know it was capable of doing, and being inspired by others who were doing the same. i began to enjoy, rather than fear, food again, and didn't grimace every time i looked in the mirror -- no small feat for someone who has struggled with disordered eating and her own body image since adolescence. i also met women who have become my support crew, the ladies to whom i now refer as my sisters.

all of this, combined with having survived two pregnancies and childbirths, resulted in a mental shift that made me feel i like i could do anything. so i thought, “let’s give this running thing another shot.”

shortly after henry was born, i trained for and ran my first 10k. and i didn’t hate it. in fact, i loved it. i surprised myself again by next training for and running my first half-marathon. then my first marathon. turns out, people who say they enjoy running long distances aren’t liars (though the crazy part is debatable). i was hooked on something i previously thought i didn’t like and couldn’t do.

maybe you think running is hard, and you would be right! even to those of us who enjoy running, it can be a brutal sport.

but believe it or not, no matter how much your legs and lungs ache during and after a run, how heavy running makes you breathe, how many new places you discover can drip with sweat after you finish a long run, the physical part of running is actually the easy part. (really.)

if you have the ability to put one foot in front of the other -- something running has taught me never to take for granted -- YOU ARE ALREADY A RUNNER! even if you run "only" in stroller strides, body back, or on a weekday afternoon down your neighborhood street, that makes you a runner. (really.)

you don't have to be fast; remove the word "pace" from your vocabulary. you don't have to go far; starting with a short distance and slowly adding miles is the best way to prevent injury. you don't even have to run exclusively; run-walk intervals is a legitimate form of running. (really.)

the hardest part, the true art of running, is building and maintaining mental strength. get your mind right and, i promise, your feet will follow. decide you want to -- and tell yourself you are capable -- and your feet will carry you any distance. (really.)

by being a part of fit4mom, i have become a part of community that has been rooting me on since that first 10k back in september of 2011. and i have not only become physically stronger than ever, i have also developed an unprecedented mental toughness.

think i am just lucky to have found all of this? guess what: if you are reading this blog, YOU are in luck because you have access to these same opportunities!

opportunities that can lead to your running the boston marathon some day, too. (really.)


katy johansson is mom to will (4.5) and henry (2.5), a body back pro, and rrca-certified running coach. she just completed her fourth marathon in three years and looks forward to training for many more.

photo credit: katy johannson

Body Back: Fusion Olympia
302 Columbia St NE
Olympia, WA 98501

Stroller Strides (Late Spring-Fall): Pioneer Park
5801 Henderson Blvd SE
Tumwater, WA 98501

Stroller Strides (Late Winter-Spring): NW High Intensity Training Center
1202 Black Lake Blvd Suite E
Olympia, WA 98502

Fit4Baby: Babies'R Us
1000 Cooper Point Rd SW
Olympia, WA 98502