Happy Again- A Year of Wisdom

It’s been a long while since my last post on this blog (if you want to check out some riveting posts written for my journalism classes, check out my real life people professional blog) (just kidding don’t it’s incredibly boring.)

Due to the nature of my major I spend a ton of time writing, and it doesn’t leave much time for leisurely writing, but I plan to make more time to continue with regular posts on this blog, reflecting on life is important to me and I really miss sharing my thoughts with fellow human beings on here.

The other day I dug out my journal. Similarly to my blog posts, I have been slacking in the journal department. It’s probably been a good two months since I wrote in my personal journal, but honestly I don’t plan to write in that journal ever again. 

Putting away that journal in the back of my drawer feels like putting away a chapter of my life. A chapter that was both good and bad. To me, my personal journal is an outlet for all of the bad things- all of the things I feel but can’t say. I poured all of my negative energy into that journal in order to make space for the happy. For some time it felt like the bad was much more prominent than the good. It was like looking at the world through smudged glasses; I could see the good but only in a distorted way. I knew there was happiness out there, but I felt I couldn’t obtain it; that it wasn’t really meant for me.

Below are a few different things I had written in my journal with what my response would be to that thought today:

  • On September 3, 2015 I wrote the following: “I am trying so hard to be enough. If  I can’t be enough for myself, how can I be enough for someone else?”

If there’s one thing that is important to remember, it’s that you are always enough. To the people who truly matter- you will be enough. There’s no easy way to learn this or accept this fact. You have to be at peace with the person you are. Bad days do not equal a bad life. Period. Your mistakes and shortcomings are not you. They are not your worth.

  • On October 25, 2015 I wrote: “Why must I feel everything so deeply?”

Over the course of the past year, I’ve come to realize that this is nothing but a good thing. If you feel strongly about something- share it with the world. Your emotions don’t make you weak, they make you an incredibly special and unique human. Embrace all of the feelings- the sad, the happy, the angry, all of it. God created feelings for one reason- so they can be felt. Feeling sad some days is ok, as long as that sadness is not all-consuming.

  • And lastly, on February 22, 2016, I wrote something that now, reading back, breaks my heart. I said: “My sadness leaves me being someone I’m not. I am not Hannah. I am sad.”

Now, I am not sad. I am not my sadness. I am not dragged down, consumed, and engulfed by the bad. Sure, some days I feel sad. I curl up in bed and I listen to music and I just lay. Life can suck and bad things happen. A lot. But the difference between feeling sad and being sad is your ability to recognize it as just that. A feeling. Now I am not sad. I am Hannah.

Through work experiences and through pursuing a life where I was true to myself, I found inner peace. I was living a life where everything I did was followed by this dark cloud that cast a shadow over my every move. Deep down I felt that I wasn’t worthy of happiness.

Now, it is hard to remember the last time I woke up and didn’t view my day positively. Every day is a new opportunity to experience the beauty that exists in the world around us (it’s clique but true.)

I noticed a difference in my life the day I made a promise to myself to be purely myself. I began sharing my poetry and innermost thoughts with the world; I started writing more and shamelessly presenting myself as the person I am. 

I found a job that I loved, and it gave my life a true sense of meaning. It changed my outlook on life and they way I see everything. I can’t explain how or why, I just know the person I was at the end of August was completely different than the person I was when I started working at Change Inc. at the end of May.

I’m not sure exactly what possessed me to share all of this with the world; I guess my shifting view on not only my life but myself is worthy of at least one post. Self love is something I constantly preach, it is the one thing that I wish I could help everyone in this world achieve. The day I realized that I was someone who told others they should love, accept, and embrace who they are yet I couldn’t do it myself was they day I realized that things needed to change.

So is this post incredibly personal? Yeah, it is. But it’s proof that things do get better. They do. If you’re struggling tell someone and reach out. You are beautiful. You are enough. You are not defined by the sadness that you may feel.

If you feel strongly about something, share it with the world. If you’re proud of something you did, tell someone. If you appreciate the actions of others, let them know.

In a world that constantly projects an ideal view of “beauty” and “perfection” on everyone who lives in it, be bold and unapologetically you. 

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Pursue happiness, although not always easy to obtain, it is always worth it in the end. ♥

Running and Life

The start of the new school year is here, which means fun and exciting new classes! After changing my major last semester (hands down best decision of my life) I decided to pick up a minor in creative writing. For my first assignment, I had to write about an activity in my daily life that parallels what it feels like to be an aspiring writer. As I began to write, I realized that running is not only a metaphor for writing but a metaphor for life as a whole. Below is a short blurb I wrote for this prompt:

Running, Writing, and Life

By: Hannah Boudreau

Both humbling and validating, running has many highs and lows. As someone who runs competitively, running is not just a hobby or something I do for fun. I love running because it is worth it. It is worth the highs and it is absolutely worth the lows. Often times, it seems that there are more lows than there are highs. I constantly questions whether or not all of the hard work is worth it. I always end up deciding that it absolutely is.

Running is something you must make a part of your schedule each and every day. Whether you feel like running or not, you must always know in your heart that it is what you have to do.

Some days lacing up your shoes feels painful. It’s like getting started hurts worse than the entire 12 mile run does.

Some days it all hurts. Getting started hurts. Each step seems to ache, pain shooting through every fiber of every muscle in your legs.

But some days, definitely not every day, not even every other day or every week, you get a run that feels more like flying. It feels like with each step your legs become more and more powerful. These days are the best days. These days are why you run. These days are why you don’t quit. These days are sole reminder of why you started doing this, why you love to do this, and why you cannot stop doing this. On days like these, the world seems to stop. The only things that matter are you, your legs, your breathing, and the pavement under your feet. The air around you seems to flow easily and quickly into your lungs: breathe in, one step, two step, three step, four step, breathe out, one step, two step, three step, four step, breathe in, one step, two step, three step, four step, breathe out. The pattern is rhythmic. It seems to sooth your soul. You’re not worrying about anything- it’s just the road and you.

A lot of days, running hurts. You curse yourself for ever deciding that this lifestyle was a good choice. The dedication, patience, and passion it takes to be successful at this is both refreshing and exhausting all at once.

However, all it takes is one incredible run that feels like flying to renew your endearment to the sport.

Some days you find yourself bent over on the side of a back road, four miles away from home, tears running down your face because you aren’t sure if you can make it the last thirty minutes of your run. Your feet throb, your hips ache, you wonder why you do this, why you bother.

Some days you find yourself bent over after crossing the finish line of a race, tears running down your face because nothing in life has ever quite felt this good. You’ve just won the conference championship in the 10,000 meter run. You look up at the sky and you think of the days you spent on the side of the road, wondering if you could do it.

You did it.

Running is all about convincing yourself that you can. It’s not about if you’re physically capable, it’s about how mentally capable you are of pushing yourself to become physically capable of something great.

Running is a metaphor for life and everything in it. What you put in is what you get out. Like a lot of things, it’s very linear.

Some days you stand on the side of the road crying, but successful runners remember what it feels like to cry on the other side of a finish line.

Defined Muscles Don’t Define You

One of the main reasons I decided to start this blog was to share my ideals about body positivity and self love. This is a concept I have struggled with my entire life, mostly due to my tendency to compare myself to the way others look.

Once I began running, the types of people I strived to be like changed. I went from comparing my body to popular movie stars and singers to professional distance runners. 

The photographs we typically see of professional runners are of them racing or working out in sports bras or cropped tops, ab muscles defined to the max, leg muscles flexed- you know exactly what I’m talking about.

My thought process has always gone a little like this: to be fast I need to look like people who are fast.

Here’s something that I’ve realized about the flawlessly toned body I’ve obsessed over achieving:

  1. Every individual has different body types that respond to intense levels of training differently. 
  2. Defined muscles does NOT equate to speed.
  3. If you ever find yourself choosing between a slice of pizza with your friends and washboard abs (I promise it doesn’t actually work this way but in the brains of most athletes like myself, it does)- CHOOSE PIZZA!
  4. The way the human body looks fluctuates based on several factors.
  5. Your dedication to your sport is not defined by how you look.
  6. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Always.

I’d really like to elaborate a little more on number 4 first. Through my journey towards body positivity and self love, I feel that I’ve been a little bit unreal with my followers on my blog, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Good days and good lighting have granted me the ability to take pictures like the ones below:


To achieve a picture like the ones above is truly an art. Suck in, flex, twist a little. Then comes finding the perfect filter than accentuates those abs. 

Don’t get me wrong- I’m all for body positivity and loving the skin you’re in. If you’re feeling good about the way you look (as you should) snap a picture and Instagram that baby!

I’d just like to be real with anyone who follows my Tumblr blog, Instagram, WordPress, Twitter- whatever. 

I don’t always look like that. Like I said before, the way the human body looks fluctuates based on several different factors. Some days when I look in the mirror, I’m not happy with what I see. 


Nope, I’m not even sticking my stomach out in those pictures. By no means do I think that I look “big” in those, but it’s certainly a difference from the toned ab mirror selfies I share on my social media accounts.


Sometimes I look like the picture on the left, probably equally as often I look like the picture on the right.

But here’s the thing- regardless of which picture I look like- I’m still the same person! 

I’m still the athlete who is capable of running a 36:25 10k and 5:04 mile.

I’m still the writer and blogger with big goals and dreams.

I’m still a hard worker with a passion for helping others.

And at the end of the day, my mental health and my ability to love and accept myself is what’s most important.

So if you’re an athlete comparing yourself to others and thinking there’s a certain way you must look in order to perform better- that is not the case. 

No one’s body looks perfect and defined 100% of the time. Never let the photos you see on Instagram or Twitter or wherever change how you see yourself.

The definition of your muscles do not define who you are as an athlete or person. 

I Didn’t Step On a Scale for a Month and Here’s What Happened

I haven’t stepped on a scale and weighed myself in over a month. At first it started as me realizing that I had forgotten to for a few days, then I wanted to try and see if I could last an entire month without knowing what my weight was. It ended up being a lot more beneficial than I ever could’ve imagined, and I’m writing this so hopefully you’ll try it as well.

Throughout the course of my time at school this semester I had a pretty religious post-practice routine. I liked to stretch outside after my run, come inside to our locker room, change clothes, head to the trainer’s, weigh myself, and ice bath. I began stepping on the scale every day, hoping I’d be just a little lighter than I was the day before.

I’ve kind of found that weight to female runners is a big ol’ elephant in the room. It’s not often talked about but it’s a huge mental block for not just me but many other competitive runners just like me. So, let’s talk weight a little bit.

I’d like to think my time spent as a distance athlete has helped me to gain a pretty decent amount of knowledge on how the human body functions, especially under the high stress of endurance running. Deep down I know that weight fluctuates from day to day depending on a wide variety of factors. I know that muscle weighs more than fat does. I know that the number on the scale dropping does not necessarily correlate to racing times dropping.

Believe me, I know all of these things. My coach has spent countless meetings in his office explaining this to me. And I believe that these things are true. But due to the nature of this sport, I constantly find myself comparing the way I look to others. No matter what anyone tells me, there’s always that voice inside my head telling me I’d be faster if I were thinner.

I’ve never been one that believes in restricting what I eat. I believe that food is fuel and constantly remind myself a calorie is a unit of energy- something I burn a lot of while training. I do, however, believe in fueling your body with the right things while still treating yourself often.

This being said- I still find myself obsessing over the number on the scale. It’s a constant disappointment- especially since I began lifting and strength training in addition to running.

I have struggled throughout my entire sophomore year of running with this idea that I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be because of my weight. This belief hurt me a lot mentally which, in turn, affected my running even more negatively.

My month away from my beloved friend “The Scale” was much needed. I’ve been using the beginning of the summer to recover and reset (both physically and mentally) before cross country season and taking a break from knowing the number on the scale has really contributed to my mental recovery.

I have absolutely no idea what my weight is currently at but I would not be surprised to hear if I was close to, if not right at, my highest weight. But here’s something else I’ve found- I have never in my life felt this good about how I look. I feel better in my own skin now than I ever have before.

I have more muscle tone than I ever, I’ve been able to do things in the weight room that I never have before, and although I’ve only had one workout so far this summer, I’m able to run times that I was hardly able to run at the end of my training last summer.

I have no idea what I weigh right now and I am proud to say that I honestly don’t care.

I stopped having the desire to weigh myself daily. I stopped letting a meaningless number dictate my self worth and my self confidence. I started focusing less on what my scale told me and more on the things that truly matter. I spend my time worrying about getting the nutrients I need, getting the proper rest, stretching, strength training, cross training, and most importantly, running. 

As a runner, there are many things that contribute to your ability to succeed and trust me when I say that weight is not always a factor.

If you’re like me and are constantly letting a number on a scale dictate how you feel about yourself- stop letting it.

We are fast, we are strong, we are determined and we are relentless but we are not a number.

Stay strong and keep pushing forward. ♥

 

 

 

Lifting Bricks

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am someone who loves routine. I like things to be planned and orderly and I have a very set way that I like to schedule out my workouts (running, lifting, cross training, etc.) throughout the week.

This disciplined and scheduled mindset is what has helped me to succeed in my running, but it has also caused me to miss out on a lot of things in my life. Which is why I have slowly but surely taught myself it is okay to lift bricks sometimes.

I’ll backtrack a little bit starting with last Saturday. I woke up around 7:30am like I usually do for a weekend long run. I had plans for early that afternoon to spend time with my family and some friends so getting my run done early was a good call. What I didn’t plan for was that due to some training classes for work, I only could fit in 2 lifting sessions during the week rather than 3, meaning I needed to go to the gym Saturday after my run. 

Realizing that I was going to have to pick between spending time with my friends and family or going to the gym, I decided to lift some bricks.

I wouldn’t have time to drive to the gym but I had time for a quick workout at home. My family is not the type to have an at-home gym in the basement but because of the nature of my dad’s work we of course happened to have some bricks lying around.

I adapted my typical lifting routine doing high reps of low weights of different ab, leg, arm, and shoulder exercises using a couple of bricks I found in my garage.

The whole point of this story isn’t that I’m a weirdo who did a bunch of jump squats while holding a brick on my back porch. The point of this story is that adapting and changing your plans is okay sometimes!

I wouldn’t lift bricks every day, but if adapting my original plan to fit something that I want to do into my schedule means lifting bricks rather than weights, then so be it.

In order to be happy, you cannot be so consumed and controlled by your schedule that you cannot adapt when need be. 

Throughout the course of the past year I have grown tremendously as a person and learned a lot about how to find happiness. It is different for everyone, but for me happiness is my routine. Happiness is also breaking away from that routine every now and then to make time for other things in life that are also truly important.

Sometimes happiness is going to the gym, sometimes happiness is lifting bricks on the back porch. Either way, lifting bricks every now and then does not make you any less of an athlete. If anything, lifting bricks shows your passion and determination to get things done and make them happen, even when the situation does not play out perfectly. 

Don’t be scared to stray from the original plan and roll with the punches, after all, weights are heavy but bricks are too.

If You’re Not First, You’re Fourth

“If you’re not first you’re last.”

This might be my least favorite “motivational” quote… ever.

If you’re not first you’re second or third or fourth or even 20th. And each one of those places have value.

I’ll start by saying that during my freshman year of college I experienced a huge rush of success in a short period of time. From becoming an All-American in cross country to winning my conference 10k in outdoor track, I expected nothing less than perfection from myself for my sophomore year.

Setback after setback and nagging injury after nagging injury, I pushed through the best I could. This past year has been hard, it’s been disappointing and it’s been frustrating but above all it’s been humbling.

This season, I went into my 10k seeded second. The same seed I entered my race in last year before winning.

I had no expectations but I had big dreams. Crossing the finish line in first place for the second year in a row was something I pictured every day. I imagined it during workouts, on long runs, I pictured it during class when I should’ve been paying more attention to my professor.

Instead of achieving my dream, I finished in fourth place.

As I laid on the track after my race, stripped of every last ounce of energy I had left in my body, I said to myself “if you’re not first, you’re fourth.”

I wasn’t first. I was not the first girl to cross that finish line.

However, I was fourth.

I was the fourth place finisher of my race. Fourth place was everything I had. Fourth place didn’t mean I was “last”, fourth place was all of the hard work I put in, all the nights I went to bed early because I had to, all the times I said no to doing things with my friends because I had to train. Fourth place was all of the tears I cried, all of the frustration I experienced. Placing fourth was everything I had in me.

I worked really hard. And my hard work earned me a fourth place finish. And I’m not upset or embarrassed or disappointed with that even slightly. In fact, I’m proud of my fourth place.

I am currently writing this post as I lay in my hotel at 5am unable to sleep because my body hurts that badly. I pushed through things I know would cause many others to give up. I’m proud of me because I earned my fourth place finish.

When I made the decision to dedicate myself to running, I promised I would always do this with my whole heart, that no matter what the circumstances were, I would give this my 100%, my focus, and my soul.

I am a runner. Every time I step on the line I know I am about to experience a pain that only other people who do this sport can understand.

Every time I race I leave a little part of my heart on the track, I put in every last drop of focus, energy, and soul I have into every race.

And that’s not just me, either. That’s every single one of my teammates and competitors who truly value this sport the same way I do.

We do this not because we have to but because we love to.

I’m writing this blog post for every single runner out there who wasn’t first. I hope every one of you knows that your efforts, struggles, and hard work do not go unnoticed.

I’m writing this post because there’s no shame in fourth place. There’s no shame in fifth place or sixth place or 100th place.

If you’re not first you’re fourth, or fifth, or 6th or 100th.

And if you’re not first, you’re still giving this your heart and soul. And nothing about that is “last”. Success is not how you place compared to others, success is putting everything you have into something that you love. Success is finishing a race and ending completely and totally on empty.

Never let someone undermine your hard work and never let anyone tell you that not being first means you are last.

Stay strong & keep pushing forwards. ♥

Life Lessons Running Has Taught Me

On average I run roughly 55-65 miles each week. When added up this is roughly 8 hours each week spent just running (give or take some depending on the week). That doesn’t include time spent meeting with my coach, lifting, ice bathing, getting treatment from our trainers, stretching, and traveling to and from meets (which take typically anywhere from 5 to 10 hours). From this sport I have not only learned a lot about myself but I’ve found myself. Because of running, I know who I am. Here’s a few life lessons running has taught me:

Running taught me family isn’t always those related to you by blood. Through running I have met some of the most amazing people. I have been blessed with teammates who truly feel more like family than anything else. These people have seen me at my worst and they’ve seen my at my best. They support me no matter what the circumstances and always are there to pick me up when I’m down. I realize this sounds corny but never in my life have I been a part of such an amazing group of people. Our team is made up of so many different people. Our personalities are all so different yet we mesh in a way that is hard to explain. Through the laughs, the tears, the crazy inside jokes, the bad races, the good races, the hard workouts, the 14 miles runs, these people are not just my best friends but my family too.

Running taught me how to make the most monotonous things in life enjoyable. Let’s be real here. Running is hard and on bad days it can feel extremely monotonous. On breaks away from school, I am stuck training alone for months at a time. Running can feel dull and unexciting a lot. Running taught me that you have to enjoy what you’re doing to get a good result. Those little things in life that seem boring- you have to make them fun. Running has taught me to be light hearted. Running has taught me to laugh and be the goofy person I am shamelessly. This sport is hard. You have to make it enjoyable for yourself and you have to have fun with it.

Running taught me to love my body. When you’re running anywhere from 6-14 miles each day, you have to take care of your body. You have to love yourself in a literal sense. You have to love yourself enough to fuel you body with good, nutritious foods. You have to love yourself enough to take care of any aches and pains before they turn into injures. You have to become so in tune with how you are feeling that you pay attention to things most people wouldn’t. You have to learn to love your body in a more figurative sense, too. Trying to change the way your body looks easily becomes an obsession to runners especially. Running has taught me to not get too caught up in how “fit” I look but to just focus on how  fit I feel.

Running taught me what it feels like to fly. Let me explain this one. You’ve probably heard of or read about “flow”. Flow is a feeling endurance athletes get when they become so totally immersed in what they are doing that they get a rush of endorphins. These endorphins basically cause what runners call “runner’s high”. I’m here to say runner’s high is very real. It’s a feeling that is close to impossible to explain unless you have experienced it before. It is the absolute closest thing there is to flying in my book. Runner’s high is rare, I’d say on average I experience it maybe once or twice a month if I’m lucky. This feeling right here is why I run, though. I push through the bad days because I know just how good it can get. When I get runner’s high, it feels like everything in the world besides me and my body have stopped. It feels like I can keep pushing faster and faster with essentially no effort. When I get runner’s high I’m not thinking anything, not worrying about anything- I’m just flying. 

 

Running taught me just how strong my mind is. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to give up in a run or workout, I’d probably make close to $300 a year. Seriously. Some days it’s a struggle to just get out the door and go. As I write this, I’ve realized that I can’t remember the last time I didn’t run purely because “I didn’t feel like it”. It’s probably been years since I let myself make an excuse as to why I couldn’t run. Weather it’s a 14 mile run when my legs feel like bricks or a 6xmile repeat workout under the hot summer sun, running has taught me that my mind is so much stronger than my body that constantly tells me to stop. Being a runner means spending endless amounts of time in your own head, eventually through all of the miles, you gain a strong brain. To become a runner you don’t need strong legs, or lungs, or any physical attribute really. You just need a strong mind.

Running taught me just how high and how low things can get. Running has brought me to some of the lowest points of my life. There was a time where I felt running had stripped me of any ounce of confidence or pride I had left. I can’t fully describe my lows of running  but picture an image of me laying on the track, unable to finish my workout, crying because everything hurt and I didn’t know why. Then when I think of my highs, I think about the 5:24 mile I ran to win the 10k in my conference championship. I think about receiving my all-American medal. I think of all my happy tears. My lows humble me and my highs validate me. I appreciate both.

And lastly, but certainly not least, running taught me who God is. I’ve written about this before but it is so important to me. Through running, I found God. I realize it sounds a little odd, but before I became a runner I didn’t think God was real. Running changed me into a spiritual person. When things get hard, I pray to He who gives me strength. When things are great, I pray to He who has blessed me with this amazing life. I do not believe God blessed me with a lot of natural talent to run fast, but I do believe He blessed me with this drive, this desire to be better. And for that I am endlessly grateful.

Through running I am constantly learning more. For those who ask me why I do what I do, this is why. Running is much more than a sport. For me it’s much more than the competition or the races. Running is becoming a better me.

Stay strong, and keep pushing forward. ♥