A Runners Life,
Amandah Povilitus @pandahamandah
Growing up, I never considered myself to be a runner. Running, for me, was simply a means to burn calories or extra conditioning for softball. I would log my miles with one of a number of goals in mind, all of which had nothing to do with running. I wanted to be able to more easily stretch doubles into triples. I wanted to be fast enough to get to those close-to-impossible foul pop-ups. Sometimes, I just ran to burn off the pizza that I had for lunch. It wasn’t until a seemingly terrible day in 2008 that I finally realized what running had been trying to give me all along: mental clarity, freedom, strength, and the beginning of my future: my career, that I absolutely love, in fitness.
The “terrible” day mentioned above was one that we have all experienced at one time or another. You know the type: one thing goes wrong, then another, then another, until you just can’t take it anymore. So, I ran. Literally. I ran right out the door! As I was running, every step was like therapy. I was flying! Before I knew it, I was smiling and in a fantastic mood. I decided to keep going, and ended up running to one end of the city and back again. By the time I returned home, my mind was clear. I was able to organize all of the tasks that had been stressing me out, deal with all of the “problems” that I encountered, and I was flying high on endorphins.
The next day, I decided to try it again. I laced up and I ran. In fact, I ran every single day that week. I felt incredible! Eventually, I heard about this fancy, new gadget called a Nike+ wristband. Paired with a chip that you attached to your shoe, it tracked distance, pace, time, and calories. I needed to have one. I am a competitor by nature, so being able to see and understand these metrics pushed me further and challenged me to be better every single day. I was addicted. I was a runner!
Soon after, I saw an ad on NikeRunning.com looking for Running Ambassadors. Ambassadors would serve as online running coaches, travel to different cities to attend various races and events, hold running events in his/her city, and of course be completely outfitted in Nike products. The ad mentioned that runners of all abilities could apply, and that eight ambassadors would be selected for the continental United States based on his/her story, writing ability (ambassadors would also write a weekly blog on NikeRunning.com), and willingness to travel. I was very new to running, but something inside me inspired me to apply for the job. I am so grateful that I did!
About a month later, when I had completely forgotten about the opportunity, I received an email from Nike; I was in! If I accepted the position, they would be flying me out to Oregon in one week for training! I said yes, did a happy dance, went on a run, and found myself at the starting line of my fitness journey, as a Running Ambassador for Nike+. My life has never been the same.
In the time since working for Nike Running and finding my calling, I slowly began to shift my life towards a career in health and wellness. I continued running, began helping newbie runners with running and meal plans, and began working as a manager at a local Lululemon Athletica store. From there, my fitness network grew, and I began working part-time in gyms as a manager and as a group fitness instructor. Some of my favorite/funniest/most embarrassing running moments:
- Running my first half marathon in San Francisco (hello, hills), grabbing a cab at the finish line, and flying back to Philadelphia a few hours later to take a final exam.
- Running 28 miles in the rain, setting a PR, experiencing my first runner’s high, and arriving home to realize that I’d dropped my keys somewhere along the route.
- Placing third in my age group for my first trail half marathon, after deciding to “just do it for fun.” I opted to do the optional river crossing (twice!), got lost in the woods for about ten minutes (I’m not even joking), stopped to chug a beer at the beer station (the race is called The Sloppy Cuckoo Half Marathon), and let the person who placed second in my age group pass me about a quarter mile before the finish line because both of my feet were bleeding profusely and I decided to wash them with a hose that I found along the route.
- Taking the subway home after completing a mud run in Fairmount Park (probably one of the only times I got a whole section to myself AND nobody bothered me on the subway!).
- Getting on the JumboTron at Citizen’s Bank Park for the first time in my entire life while completing a Spartan Race.. about 45 minutes after I broke my leg on an obstacle. I was representing Team Flywheel and had “Never Coast” plastered across my shirt, so once I heard the bone snap, I didn’t coast! I couldn’t coast! Not with that shirt. I hopped to the finish line and completed every obstacle along the way.
- Deciding to run (and win) a 5K at Bonarroo a few summers ago. It was the middle of the summer, I had been sleeping in a tent, and was extremely dehydrated. Nevertheless, I decided to all-out sprint the race. Obviously, this is was a terrible idea. About 2/3 of the way through the race (I was killing it up until this point), both of my quads locked up. I tried to keep going, but my body was done. I fell, and couldn’t get up. Yes, just like that commercial. I crawled to a nearby stranger, asked if I could use his beer can to roll out my quads (pro tip, by the way!), and asked if he could help me get to the medical tent. When I got there, they weren’t prepared for any injuries, so they gave me a wheelbarrow and a handful of VIP wristbands for me and anyone who was willing to wheel me around for the rest of the festival.
Of course, every story has it setbacks (or opportunities, depending on how you look at them). One morning, as I was biking downtown, I was hit by a car. My bike was destroyed, my knee was shattered, and my running career was put on hold. Every time I tried to run again, something would go wrong: I’d pull a muscle, something would scream in pain, I’d fall, I’d break something, the list goes on and on. Eventually, upon visiting my doctor for the fourth time with a new running injury, he suggested that I find a replacement for running. His suggestion was spinning. I was heartbroken. But, this was the final step in taking my fitness career from a part-time hobby to a full-time job. I became certified in spinning, and moved from gym to studio to studio before finding my now full-time job as an indoor cycling instructor at Flywheel Sports.
I have been at Flywheel since May of 2013. Currently, I lead 11 or 12 indoor cycling classes a week, and I absolutely love it! Earlier this year, one of my regular riders, Josh, reached out to me about a new running studio he was opening: Incline Running. Even though I hadn’t been able to run in a number of years, I decided to check out the studio. Once again, I am so happy that I did!
Incline Running is like no class or running group that you have ever experienced. We have 19 Woodway Treadmills, the most beautiful, boutique fitness space, lights that change with the intensity of the workout and/or the music, and we offer a variety of running classes to choose from. I personally teach the DYNAMIC30, a 30-minute powerhouse class that torches your entire body through utilizing the treadmill’s extremely difficult Dynamic Mode (you use only your bodyweight to move the belt!), and the RUN ONE, a 45-minute HIIT workout: 40 solid minutes of running intervals followed by a quick, but powerful core and stretching combination finish. The best thing of all? I am running again! Our Woodway Treadmills have individual rubber T-slats and ball-bearing transportation systems. These result in less stress on your joints, muscles, and tendons while running in addition to eliminating the shock on your body. In other words, they’re miracle-workers!
My advice to everyone is to always jump at opportunities, to try to see the positive light in all situations, and to live a life that you truly love. Think about what you love to do, and THAT is what you should be doing! We have one life to live. Stop making excuses, stop going to a job that you hate, and start doing the things that make your soul sing: all day, every day! Everyone is capable of greatness. Listen to your body and listen to your heart. Be your best self, and live the best damn life possible. If you need a little kick to get started, come and sweat with me at Flywheel or at Incline.
Thanks for reading my story and my journey, please reach out to me for any questions or inquires, and thanks to my friends at Endeavor Athletic for letting me share my story!
I would love to meet with the creators