Aurora S: Come As You Are

By Aurora Stottler

Come as You Are.

That’s the slogan of the UC Davis fitness and recreation program, of which I am a cycling instructor. I love that line as it applies to fitness as a whole, but especially running. To me, this means that every time I hit the road, the track, the treadmill, there is no judgment. Just my footsteps on the ground and the music in my headphones. 

Running has always been there, through every season of my life. Through every season, it has evolved and I have had to evolve with it, without assigning a good or bad value to it, but enjoying every run for what it is in the moment. My running journey started out with my first race ever, The Giant Race 10k in 2012, weeks before I started my freshman year of college. I was hooked. One year later, I ran my first half marathon, the Giant Race in 2013. I spent the next couple of years training for and running half marathons, until a stress fracture in my foot started a string of injuries that would end distance running for me. As hard as that was, it was then that I appreciated running more than ever before. Every run, every mile feels like a gift, because I’m still able to be out there doing something I love.

In the last couple of years, I’ve fully embraced the 5k distance and I LOVE IT. In the beginning, I used to compare myself to other runners who were running longer distances and wish that I could do it too. Now, I’m just so grateful to be able to run that I feel like I have to take advantage and enjoy every moment. Whether you’re running a 50k or a 5k, being part of the race day energy with one of the best communities is incredible. Never judge yourself based on what other people are doing, because running a race in any way is a big accomplishment! 

I am a Giant Race ambassador. I run 3 miles a week (more than that and my ankle gets cranky). I am STILL a runner. I make the most of my time on the road, and I love running more than ever because I appreciate every run so much more. I have so much fun every run. 

Running has been there for me in so many different ways throughout my running journey, and I value every one of them. It’s been a way to achieve a big goal and gain confidence, as I strictly followed a training program for my first half marathon. It’s been my social life as I trained for my second Giant Race half while running through the DC monuments with a run group in a city where I knew almost no one. It’s been a sunrise overlooking the whole Bay Area from the Dish at Stanford, while the rest of the campus slept. It’s been frozen puddles and steamy DC mornings. It’s been wonderous when I took my first few steps after a stress fracture. It’s been an energizer on vacations. It’s been hard. It’s been painful. It’s been stress relief. It’s been a way to squeeze in a fast workout before work. It’s been a way to explore a new city. It’s been a way to clear my head before my biggest test in Vet School. It’s been meeting some amazing new friends in my Starting 9 family. Some runs feel amazing, some runs feel terrible. That’s life. That’s running. Each run is one moment in time; it’s just you and the road, nothing else—enjoy it.  No judgment. Come as you are.