Michelle Austin believes running friends, sunshine and pockets of joy can turn a tough day around — or make a great one even better.
A treatment coordinator in a dental office in Windsor, Wisconsin, Michelle is always ready to harness the power of those good things. She tells more ...
How’d you become a runner?
I ran track in middle school and high school. After that, I stayed active but not really running. As a member of a gym, I little by little went from walking to running while my kids were in the daycare. Twelve years ago I trained for and ran my first half marathon.
What’s your current relationship status with running?
Still running all the miles.
What line from the Joy flower resonates with you most?
“To appreciate sunshine.” Sunshine has so much power. Sunshine on the face can lighten a heavy day or make a good day even better! We all need the vitamin D.
What — and we’re taking big things, small things, silly things, anything! — brings you joy?
Listening to the stories on our car rides — they may be mundane, they could be crazy, you never know what you are going to get. Even the tough conversations bring me joy because I feel so trusted, so valued.
Where is your happy place?
Anywhere with my people, and also home all alone.
Why is joy important to you?
You have to find it. If you don’t, life becomes so hard. Be it little or big, seek joy! It makes the hard days a tad better and those easy days that much more. Store those memories to draw on when you are in the trenches of a tough time.
How do joy and friendship intersect for you?
When you can be your authentic self and they are theirs, the friendship hits different. You feel it when you are together.
How about friendship and running?
The friendships make the running.
How do friends make running better?
The memories of our races together are so much about the before and after, not so much of the running itself. We go run. Times are not the focus — we may discuss the times, negative splits, the hills, the hard parts of the race, but they are never the focus. We will celebrate a great race or a PR or an achieved goal, but at the end of the day, what I really cherish is the before and the after.
Any tips for building a run squad?
Put yourself out there. Say yes. You never know who you will connect with. On paper, you would not think our group would be a match. We are different ages. Moms and non-moms. Small kids, older kids. 5Ks only to half marathons.
Please describe your ideal run.
Sunny but not hot, with any or all of my friends. Something planned after, like food!
What turns a bad mood or a tough day around for you?
Getting outside — it does not need to be the best weather — and move. A spontaneous message from the group always brings a smile!!
Michelle takes the lead during the final week of our Joy Challenge! Click here to join in.