I never ran before I turned 31. Neither I had played any sports when I was a kid. I didn’t even know how to ride a bike at this age and I had no intention to become a runner.

I separated from my ex-partner when I was 31, and my son was 2 years old. I was very depressed and was surviving on 3-5 mugs of coffees and 1 meal per day. I lost a lot of weight and looked skinny. The problem was I was feeling so bad mentally that some mornings I just didn’t want to get out of the bed.

One day I pulled myself out by a thought that life wasn’t that miserable as it looked to me. I’ve decided I want to get my energy back and decided to start exercising. I couldn’t afford any gym membership. Running was a great option as it was free.

Thus I started running. Every day. After work. With the pram. I got so much encouragement from random people on streets when they saw me pushing the pram and sweating out. It pumped me up.

I started running with small distances of 2km, then 5km, then 12km. 3 weeks later I did my first City2Surf and I felt amazing at the finish line. Eventually through daily training I was capable to run half marathons. Signing up for races kept me focused and motivated.

I was running every day. Rain or hail. Tantrums or headaches.

What’s next? Marathon? It seemed like doing something impossible.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a training for the full marathon by myself. So I joined a running club in the city of Sydney.  The guys trained every Tuesday night after work.  I was still new to running (only 3 months of running experience). The guys from the running club looked experienced. They would talk about races and crazy long training runs they did over weekends.  I honestly couldn’t keep up a conversation during the run. I was just aiming to finish my training without passing out.

Again, hail or rain I was at the training every Tuesday night. Too shy to talk to other runners. My only child free night was Tuesday night, which I consistently spent on pushing my limits above and beyond my running capabilities.

A couple of months later I started running faster and surprise-surprise I started to be able to keep a conversation with runners while running. I started to make friends! Hooray! I started to do long runs with my new friends over weekends. We would go to National parks and spend half of a day training, chatting and eating big breakfasts/lunches after the run was done. That was the best feeling ever: to belong!

Having run for half a year, I knew much more about running by that time, including that there were gels and other supplements, Garmin watch, carb loading process, Bodyglide, glycogen storage, sports bra etc. But the best part about running for me was its social side. I also got my confidence back. Not everyone runs marathons, right?

Being able to run made me a happier person. I was happy to run all over my neighbourhood and had a chance to see so much.

But the best thing was yet to come. I met my husband 2 years ago. And guess what? He is a runner. A very good runner. A good looking runner too. I met him on my walk in the neighbourhood. He was on his run on that day. His shoe laces turned out to be loose. Well, that’s what he said to me. We started chatting. I remember he inviting me out for a long trail run in the Blue Mountains. I always dreamed about going for a trail run there but thought I was not strong enough to keep up with my running buddies.

A year later we celebrated our wedding on the beach in Byron Bay among our running friends. I was wearing a beautiful white dress of my dreams and he was wearing his white beachy shirt. We both had our matching bright yellow Garmins on. My watch probably didn’t look too elegant to the wedding photographer as she politely asked me if I could take them off. No way! That’s what running brought into my life. Husband. Happiness. Confidence. Friends and the sense of belonging.

I could not have asked for more from running. I could not have dreamed of a better husband than HIM. Who would be so keen to wake up before 5am to complete long runs before a work day starts? Ah well, we have finally found each other.

Sasha Maricheva

Sasha is a practicing PT and mum two one and resides in Sydney with her now life partner!