Well Being

What It’s Really Like To Run 3,000 Miles Across America

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If the idea of running three miles or even 26.2 miles seems long to you, how about running over 3,000 miles? That's exactly what runner and activist, Katie Visco did because she felt it was just something she “had” to do. So what better day than National Running Day to talk with Katie and find out more about her journey? Because, among other things, we really want to know: How did she run from snow to 100-degree temps to 50 mph winds. And what happened to her body after all those miles? And didn't she get bored running for nearly nine months straight?!

Take a look at what she had to say about her incredible journey and be inspired:

OK, so give me the run-down again…how many miles, how many days, you ran from where to where, and what were the dates?

3132 miles, from Boston to San Diego. 276 days, started March 29, 2009, ended December 29, 2009!!!!

Most people would think running a marathon is far enough. Why did the idea of running across the entire country appeal to you?

When my heart's desire is made manifest, it is almost unexplainable. The idea to run across America hit me in high school, and it quickly became something I knew I would do sometime in my life, for the right reason. I don't know why or how the idea came to me, but it was right. On a cerebral level, it appealed to me because I have always been one for adventure, and doing something “big” (and, of course, I LOVE to run). Call it a determination to leave the world a better place than it was when I entered it. Whether it be starting a business, putting on an event, making eye contact with strangers, or running across America, we can all do something “big” that adds value and spirit and purpose to our collective soul.

How many miles a day were you averaging?
I would do 17-21 miles a day, broken up into 3 segments. Generally, 8 miles, short break, 6 miles, lunch, 3 miles, then walk/run the last few miles.

What was that really like? It had to be emotional and mentally hard at some points?

It was beyond any expectations I could have possibly had upon the outset of this journey! Above all else, really, it was FLOW. The feeling of being totally and completely home in your element, in your calling and/or purpose, and letting what comes out of that home be what is supposed to be. The days were what they were supposed to be. The people I met were whom I was supposed to meet. The spiritual experience of regularly running in the pre-dawn hours was what was supposed to happen. Leading your days from a place of knowing and allowing you heart to feel and burn is true freedom. Of course I was physically exhausted from running up and down mountains in New Mexico and Arizona; at times demoralized running through hail, sleet, snow, rain, 100-degree heat, sandstorms, and 50 mile-per-hour winds; and felt disconnected when population density dwindled beginning in Oklahoma. What kept me going was knowing my truth, and that every mile, every day was a manifestation, in some way, of my innate gifts and internal flame.

Tell me about the physical toll it took on your body.

I walked the last 300 miles. Why? Because running across the country caused me to develop ilitotibial band syndrome, aka, “you can't run anymore” syndrome. In Gila Bend, AZ, my knee gave out, out of nowhere, and could no longer run. I was forced to walk. The last 300 miles were the hardest part of the entire journey. I needed to find something greater to pull me to the Pacific. However, I did take preventative measures along the way. Most days I soaked my legs in a bucket or bathtub of ice water, or wrapped a bag of ice around my knees.

What was the hardest part, mentally or physically?

Walking the last 300 miles of my RUN across the country. I was exhausted spending 8 hours out on the roads alone, in the desert states, walking. I was forced to physically slow down just as the momentum of reaching the Pacific was beginning to build. Ironic. I had to dig deeper, and find another way to keep going. I had to look inside.

Didn't you get bored?

When I was walking the last 300 miles, yes. I was in the desert and saw nobody for miles. I would walk and read books at the same time. Or call everyone I knew who was in my phonebook! How to pass the time became a game, and actually pretty hilarious! I did end up talking to myself a few days, just for kicks!

What life lessons do you feel you learned from doing this?

My response will not do the truth justice. If I were to share two major lessons learned, they would be: 1) Humanity is giving, trustworthy, and remarkable, and possesses incredible potential for rebirth; and 2) God is everywhere, even in me.

How long did it take you to recover, mentally and physically, when you were done?

Physically, I could not run for about six months afterwards. I did physical therapy and had Graston Therapy for several months, and then was back running! It was hard to slow down and not run 20 miles a day after I was fininshed, but life is a journey, right? And it is never finished. Mental recovery was not necessary. What still plays out in my mind is how, again, and continuously will I harness my soul, spirit, heart, body, and mind in endeavors that both make the world a better place and are true expressions on my truth? How do I listen and heed?

Would you ever do it again? Why or why not?

ABSOLUTELY! I plan on doing something similar, in a way, in 2013. Stay tuned at www.paveyourlane.com! Why? Because each of us are artists and creators of our own lives. We can dance with our genius if we give our own selves permission to do so. And we can each do something that leaves the world better just by being in it. Please, we need you. Do something with what you got! You got it, y'all!

Photo: courtesy of Katie Visco