happiest mile

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, it’s a delight to reflect back over running accomplishments and favorite events, but it also made us wonder: Is there one mile that stands out over the course of your running career? We asked some of our BAMRbassadors to tell us about their happiest mile, and today Leah Wiesner to shares her story.

Tell us, Leah, how you became a runner. ​In 8th grade I decided to join this new sport at our middle school called Cross Country. I showed didn’t realize it was a sport where all you did was run. I was ready to quit after the first practice as I spent most of it dry-heaving, but my parents always taught me that when you sign up for something you see it through, so quitting wasn’t an option. I ended up sticking out the season and gained a love for running. I was the slowest on the team and came in last at every meet. I began to enjoy my slow pace, and my first running mantra became “Someone has to come in last place.” I decided to make it fun. 

I did run on and off after that season, but I’d start for a few weeks or months to lose some weight and once I hit my goal or lost patience, I’d quit again. It wasn’t until I joined a gym as an adult and was using the elliptical one evening when I saw a television show that featured a half-marathon. It planted a seed in my head. The next day on my way to work I saw a billboard announcing a local half-marathon. It felt like the universe was handing me a sign!

I registered that day, switched from the elliptical to the treadmill, and quit smoking after that first run. That was 13 ½ years ago and my longest break in running since has been when I was pregnant with my son, but I started right back up once I was cleared by my doctor. 

Was it easy to narrow down your happiest mile or was it hard to choose? It was hard to choose! I can estimate that I have covered about 8,500 miles in 13 ½ years.

I don’t think I’d keep coming back to running if I didn’t have so many happy miles in my memory.

From miles covered with BRFs that feel like therapy sessions; the miles I’ve shared with my son (in a running stroller, on a bike, or running alongside me); the miles covered at Another Mother Retreats or meet-ups when virtual friends became friends IRL; the final mile of my 50-miler and mundane miles where I felt like a total Bad*ss Mother Runner because I took the time for me and my mental health—all those miles have been happy.

All right. Let’s get to the good stuff. What was your happiest mile? My happiest mile was in February of 2021. I had joined AMR’s Love the Run You’re With that spring and the first race of the series was a timed mile. I decided to meet myself where I was at and stop chasing the younger and faster version of myself. I committed to stop looking at my watch and determined that any effort was a great effort if I gave what I could in that moment.

I did some dynamic stretching, my warm-up, and mentally prepared myself. I turned on the playlist I had cultivated for the mile and took off. I tried my hardest to not look down at my watch. I tried to run based on my effort so I would not push myself to a pace that I couldn’t sustain or get upset with myself. My lungs were burning but I kept pushing, and I told my legs to be quiet when they were begging me to quit.

That mile reminded me why I enjoy running! It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I cannot always find in other aspects of my life. In that moment I was able to focus on myself and my goals; I didn’t worry about work, I didn’t think about how my son would be waiting for me when I got home and require help for breakfast, and I didn’t let my mind wander into thinking about my to-do list for the day. 

​That mile was my happiest because it was a reminder of the validation I seek through movement. It showed me how strong I really am both mentally and physically. It put me on a trajectory that helped me find the joy in running again. And as I look back on my running and the miles I’ve had since that day, I’ve never been happier. 

happiest mile

Leah remains consistent with her miles, often at 4:30 am!

What advice do you want to share with other runners? The advice I give is the hardest for me to take: give yourself grace. Remind yourself why you run, find what brings you happiness on your run, and do that more often. I realized that one of the reasons I run is that sense of accomplishment after I do a hard workout, so I try to incorporate 1-2 harder workouts every week to push myself. Push yourself to see just how strong of a Bad*ss Mother Runner you are!

Have a mile that was pure happiness?
Tell us about it in the comments.

Want more happy miles in 2023? Check out Many Happy Miles.