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What Running Means To Pro Runner Neely Spence Gracey

After announcing her pregnancy and break from pro running earlier this year, Neely Spence Gracey reflects on what running means to her.

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Neely Spence Gracey uses cycling as a way to supplement her exercise during pregnancy.

What does running mean to you? Wait, what? I’ve never consciously thought about it. Running is just such a part of my life, I don’t know any other way of being…

I recently was asked this question, and it totally caught me off guard. But now I can’t stop thinking about my answer. SO let me start at the beginning, where my mind was when I took a moment to engage my conscious.

I realized that, for the first time in my life, I will be choosing to not run. In the past, every period of no running was either required from a coach for recovery post-season or resulted from injury or illness. Now more than halfway through my pregnancy, I have determined that I don’t want to force running. When the time comes where it feels like running is not what my body needs to be doing, then I plan to stop. I am already sad about this. This freaks me out, considering running has been my life since eighth grade. But do you know what else has been a lifelong passion of mine? Having a family. For me, a healthy baby is my number one goal right now. I feel good about my decision to not push through the heat of summer or force miles if I don’t feel good doing them. It doesn’t mean I won’t deeply miss running! So here we go: what does running mean to me?

Neely uses the FITsplint by ReCORE Fitness to support her back and belly during exercise.

I’ve spent 15 years focused on training, racing, setting goals, achieving them and setting new ones.

I have traveled the world, competing in Jordan, Mexico, Scotland, Japan, Australia, Poland and Italy to create impactful experiences that I will never forget.

I have made lasting friendships through running, because we all know that, while out on a run, all the walls come down and you can talk about anything. I’ve started runs with complete strangers and finished feeling like I’ve known them forever.

This sport has made me feel incredible joy and wrenching heartache. When you believe so strongly in making a goal happen, success is like nothing else–and unfortunately, failure is devastating.

I bonded with my dad through running. I met my husband through running. I have the life I have thanks to running. Heck, my whole job is running!

It’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be who I am (or where I am) without the incredible influence that running has had on my life.

All these reasons are why I have every intention of pursuing running, racing, goals, the World Marathon Majors and the Olympics post-baby. I know it won’t be easy–running never has been easy–but it will be rewarding.

Neely shares her 20-week baby bump photo.


Neely Spence Gracey’s Fit Pregnancy: 16-Week Check-In

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