It may be difficult to understand why someone might want to train for a half or even a full marathon. Choosing to run for 13 or more miles may seem impossible or even slightly crazy. There are all kinds of reasons why people think that they cannot run long distances. They believe they do not have time to train for a race, or they may believe they are not physically up for the task. However, for those who are willing to accept the challenge of long distance running, they often find that they are rewarded in ways they did not expect. Sarah Vyhnalek did not think she could run at all, much less run a half-marathon. Yet she took on the challenge and in the process of training, transformed her life.
Sarah Vyhnalek grew up in California. Though she was not involved in organized team sports, she was a dancer for many years. After graduating from high school, Sarah moved to Nebraska for college. She loved the Midwest so much that she decided to make Nebraska her permanent home. Sarah met and married her husband Steve, and they eventually started a family. Over a period of five years, Sarah and Steve welcomed four children. Sarah gave birth to son Owen, then three years later had daughter Ella. Two years later, Sarah gave birth to twins Myles and Mason.
Sarah struggled with her weight prior to having children, but carrying twins was particularly hard on her body. After the twins were born in 2011, Sarah decided she had to make some major lifestyle changes. Sarah wanted to lose weight and get back into shape, but she did not believe that she could ever be a runner. Sarah says, “I tried to run before, but there was a voice in my head that kept telling me I could not do it. One day, I just did not listen to that voice anymore.”
With the help of a friend who is also a personal trainer, Sarah put together a program that incorporated running and walking. She slowly built up to the point where she could run one mile without stopping. Once Sarah could run a mile, she steadily increased the time and distance of her runs. Sarah also began watching her diet more closely, cutting back on carbohydrates and refined sugars. As she increased her activity levels, and improved her diet, she found that she felt better and had more energy. The Lincoln Marathon was approaching, and her friends encouraged Sarah to register for the half-marathon.
Sarah was unsure if she could run 13.1 miles. However, her best friend had recently lost her mother, Sharon, to Pancreatic Cancer. Sharon had been like a mother to Sarah and losing her was a devastating experience. She knew she wanted to do something to honor Sharon. So, even though she was not sure that she was capable of completing the distance, Sarah signed up for the Lincoln Half-Marathon.
To train for the half-marathon, Sarah began running with friends. She gradually built up the distance of her long runs and even added some speed workouts designed to help her become faster. Though it was a challenge, Sarah finished the training program. By the time the half-marathon came around, she had lost an amazing 40 pounds.
Sarah completed the Lincoln half marathon in 2013 and 2014.
She admits that a love of racing is not what compels her to run half-marathons. She explains that while she is not a competitive person, she will run for Sharon as long as she is physically able to do so. Sarah says that running for her friend’s mother brings meaning to her running. What Sarah has discovered over the last two years is that she truly enjoys her training runs. Sarah enjoys how running allows her to clear her mind and forget about the stresses of daily life.
Sarah loves running because it has helped her to believe in herself. Setting and achieving goals that she previously thought were impossible makes her see herself in a different light. Losing weight, running and achieving her goals has improved her self-confidence. Sarah believes in herself in a way she never did previously. Not only is Sarah proud of herself, but so is her entire family. Sarah says that her husband and their four children are her biggest supporters. The family encourages her to go run on the days when she is not feeling motivated. Sarah’s parents also think that her running is phenomenal and they are very proud of the lifestyle changes she has made.
Sarah Vyhnalek is a woman whose life has been transformed by her commitment to running. Running has helped her to set and achieve things she once thought were impossible. Her commitment to exercise has helped her lose a total of sixty pounds. Sarah has gained self-confidence and has learned to view herself in a new positive light. She is proud of herself for setting a good example for her children through maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program. Sarah believes that almost anyone can become a runner. She says, “If I can do it, you can do it! You just have to get all of the negativity out of your head.”