Nature's Gym

I love training. I relish those mornings that I can get up at the crack of dawn, rested and ready to do my first training session of the day after my requisite coffee. This routine is a staple of my life. It is the way that I choose to begin my day–in the spirit of movement and momentum.

By: Mirna Valerio


I have this huge overarching goal in my life when it comes to the physical activities I do. I train so that I can get through the next 50k or Tough Mudder stronger and be able to endure more distance and difficulty. But I also have a greater reason for grinding on the daily.

I put in the hours at the gym, out on the trails, on the track, and on the road so that I continue to make deposits in my bank of physical, mental, and spiritual longevity. I see my training as a way to elevate the daily grind, to make every movement worth it–to ensure that I am strong and able to function and move about freely and purposefully as long as I can, as long as I’m alive.


My training now looks different from what it used to be. It’s gone from a little haphazard and experimental to more planned and goal-driven. I’ve gone through several iterations since 2008. Up until about four years ago, I used a combination of training plans that I found in books like Claire Kowalchik’s Running for Women, to help guide me through 5Ks at first, then 10Ks and half marathons when I was looking to challenge myself with even farther distances.

For my first marathon, I used John Bingham’s and Jenny Hadfield’s Marathoning for Mortals and then a Hal Higdon novice plan for my second and third marathons. When I became a USATF certified coach, I began using my experience along with periodization techniques to craft my own training plans. I would also add in a few heavy lifting and bodyweight cross training sessions under the guidance of my weightlifting coach, who understood that I was a runner first but that I also wanted to be strong all over, you know, because life.

Now, I have a running coach and he doesn’t play around. His name is Mike Ehredt and he has literally run across the country several times. He believes in me so he pushes me to mileage and heights I never thought I could do. We are currently focused on Trans Rockies. My goal is to finish it this year, so I’ll be working mostly on preparing my body for high-altitude running and hiking, since that is what did me in last year. I’m excited and terrified! Also, I will probably never go back to being coach-less.


Other areas of my life have been touched by my athletic training like the way I think and the way I go about my day in a more confident manner. Not only do I walk taller, but I feel as though I can conquer almost anything. Knowing that my body is strong and able to endure hours out on the trail, or in mud, makes it easier to withstand obstacles in my way at work, or in life. All I have to do is have a goal, make a plan to get there, and work tirelessly to make it happen. And just like running, if it doesn’t happen the first time, I try again, and again, until I achieve it.

Follow Mirna Valerio on Instagram @themirnavator


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