For Amy Patel, running began as an outlet during a tough time in her life. “Around 2014 I was going through some personal issues and I felt like I could eat my anger away, I could drink my anger away, or I could do something that would push me mentally and physically. So I started to run.”
Initially, Patel says she would have anxiety about heading out on a run and going too far to be able to get back. “There was no Uber at that time so literally you have to run home to get back. A 5K was so daunting to me,” she says. (Want to get started with running? Go from walk to run with our 10-week training plan.)
It wasn’t long before Patel started noticing changes in her body and how she was improving as a runner. “I was tracking everything with the Nike Run Club (NRC) app so I could see differences in my pace. It started to become a game for me and I started challenging myself,” she says, noting how it was important that she wasn’t comparing herself to anyone else. “I wanted to zone in and take care of Amy,” she says. “I didn’t want to focus on someone else doing super well I just wanted to be me and measure myself against myself.”
Many of those early runs were done on her own, with just the app as encouragement. “I loved being alone,” says Patel of her solo runs. “The way that some people meditate – it was just me by myself with my thoughts.” (Yes, it’s possible to love running. Here’s how.)
Eventually, Patel found a community and began to run with others, which she admits was “weird at first.” She and a group of Toronto-based women started running together and training for the Nike Women’s 15K in 2015. “Since University I’d always done the Run for the Cure but that 15K was the first longer distance race that I really trained for,” says Patel.
Throughout her training, Patel continued to log her runs on the NRC app with her Apple Watch. “I’m all about stats,” she says. “I’m a finance person so I wanted to be able to quantify whatever I was doing,” says Patel, who previously worked in Toronto’s financial district for nearly a decade. Those solo runs, training miles and races started to add up and Patel blew past goal level after goal level on the NRC app. “One day I looked at the app and realized, ‘Oh my god, I’m so close,” she says about the app’s milestone goal of 15,000 km – Volt status. “I thought, if I continue to run the way that I’m running – on average 250 km a month – I’m going to get to this very fast. That’s when it started to hit me,” she says.
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Looking right at you VOLT status. 😍 In 2015 I had 10,000 more KM’s to go, thinking it was daunting out of reach and like I’d be SOOOOOO OLD, my knees would be shot and I maybe I wouldn’t even care by then. I can report back that I’m am in fact older, my knees and feet have gone through some real shit, I’ve taken breaks to get back to running full speed and I DO in fact CARE ! A freaking LOT !!!! I’m currently eyeing my last 40 KM and taking it verrrrry slow now. I’m milking in these feels through the reflection of it all. The commitment on holidays, figuring it out if I had an early morning deal in finance, long nights at work, run commuting to release stress, waking up at 4 AM to see the sunrise and the moon set, waking up in new cities to explore it alone and running outdoors everyday at 2 separate destination bachelorettes before having a real time. It makes me think how thankful I am of the individuals around me who constantly support my choices. I can’t even. I mean, obvs I can. #lavielesbest 📸 : @e_fancy
The thought of achieving that milestone was a little bittersweet for Patel: “It was a weird feeling of ‘But then what?’” She says she had gotten used to having a constant goal to work towards and the thought of not having some sort of tangible finish line was daunting. Volt is currently the last level on the NRC app (15,000 km +) and Patel is one of just a handful of people to have recorded enough runs on the NRC app to reach it. (Want to start using tech to improve your workouts? Here’s what Apple’s latest launches can do for your health and fitness.)
Patel decided on a day earlier this summer when she would hit that 15,000 km milestone and many old and new friends came out to cheer her on for her last 10 km. “Running is so interesting because everyone can do it. You need your body and a pair of sneakers,” she says. “I found with the running community that I wouldn’t have naturally become friends with some of these people and they’re now who I consider great friends. There’s something about it that connects people and it’s so beautiful.
While she may have reached the final level on the NRC app, Patel’s run journey definitely doesn’t end here. “I do it because I love it and it’s something that got me through something really dark in my life. And I don’t talk about what that is because that’s not the important part. To me, the important part is doing something positive out of something negative,” she says. “So if I can impact someone with a similar journey I think that’s so cool and I feel really honoured.”
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