Tales From Another Mother Runner Thursday: Heather Johnson Durocher

Heather Durocher Board revision 2

Welcome to our next round of Tales From Another Mother Runner Thursday, where we preview one of the 22 essays and authors in our forthcoming book. While our names are on the cover, the book is a truly celebration of this amazing, badass community: not only does it contain 22 essays from a range of talented writers and mother runners, it has miles of insight, advice, stories, and humor from hundreds of you. 

Up today is Heather Johnson Durocher, aka Michigan Runner Girl, who is a mom to three kids, ages 14, 12, and 9. 

Important Schedule Note: We're filling in our book tour as quickly as we can. We've got readings in Portland and Denver on March 2, we're hitting Andover, MA; Syracuse, NY; TBD, New Jersey; and West Hartford, CT from March 9-12. Sarah is bound for Austin in late March, Dimity's hitting Atlanta in late April, and there's much more to come.

Check out the details and the growing list here of stops. (Little Rock Marathon: We're coming for you first!)

My running history: As a child, I distinctly remember disliking running, particularly during gym class; painful side stitches stand out in my mind. I attempted to become a runner as an adult (mostly to impress my athletic then-boyfriend/now-husband, I’ll admit) but it never stuck. About nine years ago I gave it a go again, entirely for myself, and I kept at it. I’m so grateful to have unearthed this passion. It’s completely transformed my life and positively impacted how we’re raising our kids.

My writing history: Working on my high school newspaper led to studying journalism at Michigan State University. Internships and post-college positions at daily newspapers in the Midwest followed. I was working as a reporter at the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in St. Paul, MN when our daughter was born in 2000. Not long after I transitioned to freelance writing, and I’ve been contributing to magazines, newspapers and web sites, ever since. In 2010 I began publishing Michigan Runner Girl a health-travel web site about running and living happy in Michigan.

My essay, “Taking the Long Way Home" centers around: my getting lost (figuratively, not literally on a run) several years ago, and how the string of choices I made during this period only took me further away from my true self. I write about the aftermath of this confusing and painful time and how running helped me heal and realize what the best version of myself could and should be. Ultimately, this journey helped save my marriage.

I was scared—still am—to put this piece of myself out into the world. But I think I’m more afraid of keeping the truth inside me. I spent many miles working through these emotions and figuring out how best to describe my experience. I also talked through a lot of it with my husband, given it was our story I was sharing.

I'm a die-hard Mitten State runner because: Nothing compares to Michigan’s landscape. The abundance of fresh water is what makes our state so lovely; the Great Lakes beaches are among my favorite places on Earth . I’d also say the extensive trails, especially in northern Michigan where I live and in the Upper Peninsula, are world-class. It’s a runner’s paradise.

My gotta-have gear: Earphones for listening to podcasts (Serial, AMR, TED Radio Hour) and tunes on long training runs.

Recent memorable run: A little over a week ago the stars aligned and I was able to meet up with three of my best running friends for a long run. We’re all on different schedules and had varying mileage on tap for the day: Pam and Erin are gearing up for spring half-marathons, while I’m training for the Boston Marathon and Katie was about to give birth to her fourth baby. So it was kind of a miracle that we all could figure out how to run together. It was just so good to catch up and enjoy what would be our last long run all together. (At least for awhile; Katie gave birth a few days ago to a beautiful little girl).

Recent horrible run: I’m not sure I’d call it horrible, but this morning’s speed workout (6X800) wasn’t something I was looking forward to. I am following a new-to-me marathon training plan, the Hansons Marathon Method, for marathon #7 and it’s tough.

I’m grateful to feel healthy and be injury-free at this point in the training, but I’m TIRED. And hungry. So, today, as I faced this challenging interval workout, I just didn’t want to do it. It’s a frigid week here, temps in the teens and low 20s, but the sun was shining today. And the roads are mostly clear. So I headed out, willing myself to get my head in the game. It took the entire warm-up mile to get into it, and then I did. I told myself I built some mental muscle today.

Next up on my running calendar: I’m focused on my second Boston (praying for cooler weather, compared to 2012’s ridiculously hot weather), but I’m also hoping to make it up to the U.P. for my second snowshoe race of the season, the Tahquamenon Snowshoe Race later this month.

10 responses to “Tales From Another Mother Runner Thursday: Heather Johnson Durocher

  1. Sounds as if we may share similar stories with different endings. I just don’t get the sharing part…I’m ok of only a few people closest to me knowing my history of running/relationships and how one can both positively and negatively affect each other. I’ve put it all down in private journals and then burned them…I feel that’s all I needed to move on, and move on I have. Kudos to you for putting it all out there in book/essay form!

  2. I can’t wait to read your story and all the others in the upcoming book. Although I’m just a tad more excited to actually have the chance to meet you in person at Boston. We have to make it happen just so we can talk Michigan. Maybe I’ll even let my Michigander accent come out! 😉

  3. How am I suppose to narrow it to one? I want to inhale it all! Strength, speed, and nutrition would be top 3, taking it to one, strength. I know this is vital, but I need the info reinforcement!

  4. I cannot wait to read your story and all the others. You’re an amazing writer who is doing a very brave thing by sharing what seems to be a painful and difficult memory from a time in your life. I’m sure it will help countless others and hopefully you will feel the love 10-fold by putting it out into the world. Congratulations and good luck at Boston this year!

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