Extra Miler: Anna Saewert

Less than two years ago, Anna did not think that she could run a 5K. Since I am her sister and I have no problem telling her exactly my opinion, I immediately disagreed. I knew that if she had to, she could run a 5k that day. Little did she know that she would one day race in a half marathon and dream of completing a full marathon. Anna exemplifies many of us, who view fitness goals as something that are near impossible. But instead of believing that lie, she chose to believe someone who believed in her and began her inspiring fitness journey.

Anna ran track and played volleyball in high school, but the years of studying and college activities had put a gap between then and now. No matter what your background is- whether you played sports in high school or if you didn’t, whether you were considered a collegiate athlete or not… it does NOT matter. Everyone starts at a different point, but that has absolutely no effect on the end result. You can achieve whatever you put your mind to. All it takes is courage to start, strength to endure and determination to finish.

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Pictures of Anna’s past races. From left to right: Turkey Trot 5k, Bunny Rock 5k, Mudderella 12 miler, Baker’s Dozen Beer Run Half Marathon

The Beginning. “I had no idea where to even begin for a doable running routine. When I told Paula that I wouldn’t be able to run a 5k, she said, ‘Yes you can! You can do it tomorrow if you wanted to!’ Hearing her say that out loud was helpful and make me realize it was an attainable goal. Up to this point I would work out here and there, but didn’t have a structured running schedule.”

Accountability. “Running apps were a source of accountability and the Coach to 5K app was perfect for me. I wanted to start right back up where I had left in high school, but it was physically impossible for me to do that. The fact that this app gave doable steps was huge, because running a mile was not fathomable at the time. Walking/running was encouraged and I felt like it was ok to walk. It was like having a third party coach telling me what to do. The workouts changed so it didn’t get boring. I was still able to work out with a friend, but it was so helpful to have a program and accountability, but also something I could own and be proud of. I literally did not think I could do that… but I did! Baby steps!”

Hard Work Pays Off. “I surprised myself when I did do my real first 5k (Anna’s actual first 5k had been before she started her couch to 5k training and she struggled to finish. It was very discouraging to her and led to all negative thoughts) because the training had really worked and I did better than I thought I would. It was eye opening to see how a little at a time pays off. It’s like learning a new language, where a new horizon is opened to you. There’s so much more beyond a 5k and I felt like I had learned a completely new language. It was something new to apply and relate to with other people and experience different places in an intimate way. It opened up a door for me of countless opportunites. My next 5k race was a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot that I did with Paula and we both placed in our age group! I also did a Color Run 5k, a Bunny Rock 5k, the Mudderella and last month I ran in my first half marathon.”

Running is an Example of Life. “You realize your whole life is considered a race and when you get to the top of the hill… you have to keep running. It’s similar to life also, where it’s hard but there are lots of rewards if you push through the challenging times. During my half marathon, mile 3, 7 and 10 I just wanted to quit- I had the choice where I could either stop or push through and it’s the same thing with life. You can either finish strong, stop, or have a bad attitude. Long distance running has shown me a different frame of mind- like mental toughness plus physical and spiritual well-being. Life is not a sprint and a lot of times that’s how I am- I go, go, go and then get exhausted and stop. You have to pace yourself in life. You can’t just stop with 10 miles to go.

Running is Social. “I met someone in the small group I had been attending who invited me to running club. I don’t always necessarily enjoying the running aspect, but more the fruits of the labor. It is such a blessing to bond with people through running and amazing conversations and friendships have resulted from it. “

Motivation. “I think what motivates me is keeping it as a way to experience the outdoors. I’m in a place of life where I don’t always have a group of people at my fingertips to be outside with, so getting myself to run is a way to be outside and see the beautiful state of Michigan. I don’t have to depend on having enough people to play volleyball, I can just go out for a run on my own. Running allows me to experience a place so much more intimately- you go through a struggle with a place and conquer it! I had an opportunity to run through Gettysburg and I think of it so differently than if my only experience there would have been seeing it in a tour bus. You have a relationship with it instead of just driving through it. It’s also a way to experience places in a cheaper way! Stress sometimes motivates me too after being in an office all day. In the winter I can’t just sit after work so it’s a way to get me up and moving. I am so blessed to have a work out accountability partner, who motivates me in the winter as well. “

One Word. “If I had to describe my running journey in one word, it would be ‘thankful.’ It’s a goal in my life that I’ve attained, so many relationships have grown through it and I have been able to experience the world around me in an intimate way.

Life Goals. “Less than 2 years ago I didn’t think I could do a 5k. When I thought about my life goals back then I listed marathon as one that I could maybe do, at some point in my life. I now see it as something that I WILL accomplish and it’s going to happen one day. I also want to make a Turkey Trot an annual tradition with Paula, ‘Run the Mitten’ (the coast of Michigan) with a relay team and run a marathon with Paula.

Anna's TimelineAnna’s Race Timeline… you can do this too!!

It goes without saying that I am SO PROUD of my sister. Keep up your hard work and positive attitude Anna! Now, time to go train for our second annual 2014 Turkey Trot 5k!

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