Arete’s Monique Davila: The Privilege to Run

{Many of us have that thing that brings us to running in a new way. When it no longer becomes a chore, or a way to stay fit, or a resolution. It becomes intimately tied to our being. We crave it. Maybe it’s an injury or an emotional stress or finding community that awakens us to the run in a whole new way.

For Monique Silva Davila, running has always been a part of her life. But it wasn’t until she became a mother and then again a mother of twins that she realized running was what she needed and wanted more than ever in her life. Monique is one of the original Arete members and is a huge reason we’re here and growing today. She believed in the team from the start and we’ve loved watching her rediscover running with Arete and with baby twins. Monique, thank you for sharing your story of how you’ve evolved and grown with running. We call ourselves lucky to have you part of our sisterhood!}

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Monique (center) with father and older sister Nicole, post-race, circa 1988

The Privilege to Run

By Monique Silva Davila

Running…we have a fickle relationship you and I. I realize now that I took you for granted. You see, you were always around; available. In fact, I can’t recall a time in my life where you weren’t in it. I was born into you. My first experience with you was on the sidelines. Watching from the stands or the side of a cross country course as my sister ran her heart out. Listening to the words of advice from my father, a successful runner in his own time. I saw from an early age that you could be a source of overwhelming joy, or that of great disappointment. I saw the work that you required from those who attempted you and the incredible sense of dedication and mental strength you expected if you were to succeed. To be honest, I was a bit scared of you at first; intimidated might be a better word.

I always envied those that went into races with so much positivity and a care-free attitude about them. It was as if they were running free. I was never one of those runners. I over-thought everything. I was too rigid and would often let self-doubt eat away at me before I even laced up. I would compare myself to others and wonder if I was good enough. I would often let bad workouts get to me and instead of using it as fuel to improve for the next one. I would allow negative thoughts to creep in.

Don’t get me wrong, you were a source of so much happiness in my life as well. In fact, you probably shaped a lot of it. You largely determined my friends, my activities, my college choice, and probably my husband whom I met at the college you led me to. You helped shape me to be who I am in life and surrounded me with a strength that can only come from persevering through one of the toughest sports out there: long distance running. For it is not for the faint of heart. I really think you helped prepare me for one of my greatest challenges of all time: motherhood.

Which leads me back to you always being “available.” Well, pregnancy and motherhood changed that pretty quickly. In reality, I think I was ready to take a little break from you. Competitive running throughout high school and college can be a bit demanding, especially for a worrier like myself. I never quit you altogether though, as I don’t think I could ever do that. I just quit running competitively. I would run when I felt like it, how I felt like it, and for how long I felt like on any given day; a stark contrast from competitive running in which workouts, mileage and locations are mapped out for you regardless of weather or life activities that may interfere. I had to be out there in the rain, occasional snow, and on days when I really did not feel like running. I sometimes resented you on those days. You were a task that needed to be done, not a choice.

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Monique rocking motherhood (and probably hoping to squeeze in a mile run).

It wasn’t until you were no longer available to me that I realized just how much I needed you, just how much I took you for granted. I missed the joys of a PR, a great workout, a successful race, and a long run that flies by as you chat away with your friends. I felt this longing for a bit when I had my first child and chose to quit running mid-pregnancy and had to wait until after my c-section healed to start back up. It was probably the longest time I had been without you. With a few bumps in the road, we managed to find our groove back and I found that I could run again. However, now I would have to bring along a stroller occasionally. I was OK with that.

Fast forward to having the biggest curve ball thrown at me thus far. TWINS! And you became a challenge in so many ways. I could no longer run when I wanted, for now when my husband was working, I had three little humans and one double stroller. The math didn’t add up. I was left with a body I no longer recognized, and a sense of responsibility for these two additional humans that was all encompassing and overwhelming at times. I needed you more now than ever.

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As running was passed down to her, she’s once again passing down running to her oldest daughter Ellie.

You did not make coming back to you easy, however. You definitely made me work for it, and let’s be honest, it was a bit awkward at first. I felt like a first time runner and never thought we would find our way back again. You were worth the effort and I’m so glad I didn’t give up on you. I’m so glad you didn’t give up on me. You became my lifeline; a source of freedom. Remember when I said I envied those that ran free, I felt like maybe I was on the path to becoming one of those runners, and it felt good.

Motherhood has changed me. I’m not the same, and I don’t think you can be. Even my relationship with you has evolved. I’m more confident than in the past, and I appreciate you so much more. I enjoy you so much more. You are my outlet, my sanity saver, and allow me to come back home with more patience to tackle the day. You are no longer a task, but a privilege. When I lace up my shoes I no longer think, “I have to run today.” I now think, “I GET to run today. How lucky am I?”

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Monique (second from right) with some teammates after the very first Arete run in May 2016.
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