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My 18th year was a tough one. I cried, failed, lost, loved, and learned a lot more than I had originally planned to. There were so many times this past year that I felt hopeless and lonely, even surrounded by people who cared about me. I realized that that was because I didn’t feel okay on my own. I needed to learn how to be secure in myself, and part of that meant keeping my promises to myself. So around September, I committed to running a half marathon.
Girl hugging her father while he holds bouquet of flowers
I figured this would be the perfect way to finish off a year filled with so much struggle and perseverance. If I could make it through the last year, I could make it through 13.1 miles. 
Though I committed myself to the marathon and had to hold myself accountable, I was also never truly alone. My dad, big brother, and sister-in-law to-be trained with me, and my little brother, sister, mom, best friends and boyfriend cheered me on along the way. I learned this year how important it is to have people in your life who genuinely want to see you do well, not because it will benefit them, but because they are invested in your happiness with you and truly want to see you win.
Group photo of race finishers holding flowers with medals around their necks
During training, and the year at large, I noticed my loneliness start to fade away. Yes, I spent a lot of time with my loved ones, but I also learned how to enjoy spending time alone. This was the first time in my life that being alone didn’t signify something negative, like being left out. Everyone who is in my life now includes me always, checks in on me, and genuinely cares about my well-being. Now, being alone means working on a business I love. It means writing. It means taking a drive by the beach listening to my music. It means running the trails or beaches near where I live. It’s quality time with the person who has shown up for me over and over again—myself.
Sienna Mae Gomez running by the beach; girl in baseball cap running by the beach
The other challenge I had to face in order to keep this promise to myself was doing things that were uncomfortable. I have never been a runner. It was painful, slow, and grueling to work myself up to 13.1 miles. I cried…a lot. When I started, I could barely run one. I had to make myself run even when my body hurt, even when I was tired, even when I wanted to give up. 
Holding myself to that level of discipline gave me great confidence to know that I was capable of achieving my goal. I could have stayed in bed, but didn’t. I could have given up after I got shin splints during the first week of training, but I didn’t. I could’ve thrown in the towel so many times but I DIDN’T.
Crossing that finish line on the final day of my 18th year was so symbolic for me. It marked the end of a really hard uphill battle, and at the end of it I was surrounded by so much love, both from others and from myself. The runner’s high I felt afterward was the perfect way to enter my 19th year—invigorated, proud of myself, accomplished, affirmed, and ready to take on my next challenge.
Girl in white long sleeve top and San Diego baseball cap pinning a race bib to her shirt in preparation for a marathon
I’ve received a lot of questions in my TikTok & Instagram comments about my training schedule, what apps I used, what shoes I wore, how I stayed hydrated, etc, so I’m going to post a Q&A below. If you’re interested in taking up running or even signing yourself up for a half-marathon, it may be of interest to you! I hope the goals you set for yourself this year bring you joy, love, and most of all, I hope they help you remember that the promises we keep to ourselves are a sure fire road to restoring hope inside. <3
Boy hugging girl with flowers in his hand

Q & A

Q: How did you work up to this in 3 months?

A: I stayed really consistent and started very small. When I began my training I could hardly run a mile without feeling like I wanted to quit. I started with one mile a day, then two, then three, and so on. Breaking the mileage down into weekly benchmarks was so much easier than trying to run a 5K right off the bat. I didn’t pay attention to time at the beginning, just finding my best pace; what felt most manageable but still challenging, what allowed me to endure through multiple miles, and what my body could handle. Then, once I established that I started pushing myself harder, tracking my runs and setting new goals for time and distance.

Q: What app do you use to track your runs?

A: I use RunKeeper! I love it because you can create custom training programs for your goals (for me, a half-marathon!) and because it saves all of your past runs as data you can use to track your progress which was huge because forward progress is such a big motivator for me.

Q: Do you have any tips on how to start?

A: I have three tips that might help: 
  1. Start small and keep it manageable. If you try to run 10 miles straight out the gate, you’re going to hurt yourself and not want to run ever again. What really helped me was using the 4/1 approach: Run for 4 minutes, walk for 1 minute, run for 4 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and so on, until you complete however many miles you have slated for the day. This is actually how we did the half-marathon from the start and it made it feel very doable because it’s how I had been approaching runs.
  2. Stay consistent! There were days when I couldn’t hit my target mileage, and I would say to myself, “Okay, we’re going to run at least one mile. If we still want to quit after that, we will.” Most times, I would end up running more because starting was the hardest part! Other days, I would break up my total mileage in multiple runs throughout the day, with a chunk in the morning and then another chunk in the evening. This was great if I didn’t have time for the whole thing at once and it allowed me to rest in between. No matter what, don’t quit!!!
  3. Get a good support system, whether that’s in person with your family and friends, or online! There are tons of running groups online and plenty of people documenting their training on TikTok and IG. I think having people around me that were motivating and supportive was such a huge help so I’d highly recommend that! 

Q: What shoes do you wear to run?

A: I love my Brooks Revel 5’s! They are so comfortable and supportive. I think it’s really important to have a good, supportive shoe before beginning training because they’re literally going to carry you every step of the way! You can shop everything I used/wore for training and beyond in my amazon storefront here. I have all my favorite activewear linked there so if you saw something you liked, you can find it there!

Q: Do you listen to music while you run? If so, what headphones do you use?

A: I don’t actually listen to music when I run. I find it so much harder to maintain my pace when listening to music because I tend to unintentionally adjust my speed with the BPM of whatever song is playing. For me it was a lot easier to listen to podcasts in the beginning because I would just kind of forget what I was doing and focus on the conversation I was listening to! Let me know if you guys want to know what podcasts powered me through the beginning of training! Towards the end though, I liked the silence, or the conversations I would have with my dad!

Q: What was your favorite part of doing the half marathon?

A: I would say getting to train with my dad was really special. He helped motivate me so much and I genuinely enjoyed our time together. My second favorite thing about it was the feeling of accomplishment I felt afterwards. It was so invigorating and really made me feel powerful. Achieving the goals you set for yourself is such a spirit booster!
Girl holding flowers and showing a gold medal while wearing a long sleeve white tee and black active pants
Sienna Mae Gomez