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Moms on the Run is great because of the women who are part of our family. In an ongoing series, we'll feature an Ambassador who will share her story with you. Today we feature Anna Carlson, who runs with Roseville (MN) Moms on the Run.
Our youngest daughter Maya has a rare brain condition called lissencephaly, or “smooth brain syndrome.” When she was two years old, she started going to a specialized therapy that helped her learn how her body could teach her brain to do movements rather than the other way around. She worked on a series of very small steps to get to a larger movement and her therapist commented that for Maya, learning one complete movement was like running a marathon. And that’s when I started to run. I thought if Maya could work so very hard on something, I could too, and so my husband joined me in the Couch Potato to 5K plan that we found online.
After running a few 5K races, I still did not consider myself a runner. I thought that was a title only for people that ran longer distances and ran much more often per week than I did. I felt like I needed some accountability to increase the frequency and distance of my running so that I could consider myself a runner. That’s where Moms on the Run came in.
I joined the Roseville Moms on the Run group for the spring and summer season in 2014. I saw an advertisement for it somewhere online and figured that if I could do that for one summer, I would develop a running habit and that I could take it from there on my own. Little did I know that Moms on the Run would become a consistent part of my life and that I would still be involved six years later. In fact, I have not missed a single season since I first joined, so it’s a part of my life year-round. However, it was not the running accountability that got me hooked.
I am very much an introvert and running with my husband or a little on my own was very comfortable. I figured that once Moms on the Run formed the running habit in me, I would be good to go on my own. That changed at one of my very first classes. Our Roseville group was large, so at the beginning of each class our head coach assigned two to three members to introduce themselves to the group so that we could get to know everyone. When it was my turn, one fact that I shared was that I have four daughters. As we started running that night, I soon had someone running next to me saying, “Hey, I have four daughters too!” and we talked for the rest of the run. That conversation was the beginning of my relationship with my BRF Rhianna Stave. We ran our first first ten-mile race together that fall and trained together for our first marathon last spring.
Moms on the Run hooked me with friendships and the support of a group that this introvert can now not live without. And it has also pushed me to have the confidence that I can do even more despite my shyness. I became an ambassador a few years ago and have been able to share how much I love MOTR with others. I always admired our coaches and in the back of my mind wondered what it would be like to do what they do. In the summer of 2017, I had my chance to give it a try when our head coach asked if I would be willing to coach an early morning endurance group. I took that on, which led to subbing when some of the other coaches had to miss a night of interval classes. Now I am in my third year of being an assistant coach and I love it. At our coach’s training last spring, I really appreciated some comments that Karissa Johnson and Carrie Tollefson shared about coaching styles, and how the two of them are very different from each other. Karissa shared how she learned that her introvertedness could still make her a good leader, and I have learned that lesson through Moms on the Run as well.
I now have three mantras when I run: “If Maya can do it, I can do it,” “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength,” and “MOTRstrong.” I am so thankful to MOTR for not only helping me realize that I am a runner, but that I also have the confidence to do other things in life that I may not have done before.