• Jill Ciminillo, CARA Board of Directors Vice-President

CARA Member Kerry Mysliwiec Uses Running As A Life Lesson

In many ways, running is more than a sport or leisure activity. It’s a life coach.


As CARA member, Kerry Mysliwiec points out, what she has learned during marathon training has helped her be better at her job as well.


Mysliwiec works in advertising sales for ViacomCBS, which she calls a “slow burn” – in other words, you don’t always see immediate results.


“Marathon training has given me the strength to endure and to realize it’s not a linear path from pitch to close,” she said. “In the same way, when you’re running a marathon and training for it, you’re going to have great runs, you’re going to have terrible runs, but you still can get to that finish line.”

The key: Make small incremental steps every day.


She said it’s kind of like getting your midweek runs in, but in business, it’s asking what the small steps are that will help close the bigger deal down the road.


“The small-step thing has really stuck with me,” she said “That’s totally marathon training. You have to stay the course. You have to commit to the plan and do your midweek runs when they’re hard to fit in. You can’t just do the long runs. You have to do every part of it and make those incremental steps to your goal.”


Mysliwiec said she’s been “running adjacent” for most of her life because though she was on the track team from junior high through college, she threw shot put. It wasn’t until she moved to Lakeview that she took up actual running.

“I felt like an outsider in my neighborhood,” she said. This was because she said it looked like everyone in Lakeview did one of three things: had kids, had a dog or ran. Since she didn’t have kids or a dog, she decided to run.


“So I started running a block and walking a block, and it was so hard,” she said.


But she kept going. She built up distance block by block, then started to run to do errands. In 2014, she ran her first marathon.


But she hadn’t found CARA yet.


Mysliwiec trained for her first marathon by herself, which she said was “a terrible choice.” But since she loved the whole marathon experience, she wanted to do it again.


Enter CARA and the Perfect 10s (the Saturday 6 a.m. Montrose training group).

In addition to a structured program and a place to get running knowledge, it was the people she met in CARA who’ve kept her engaged with the organization.


“I really like these people,” she said, “and I want to keep coming back.”


Therein lies “the Power of the Group.”

"...it’s really an incredible community that CARA has allowed us to build."

She noted this was especially important not only for her but also a lot of runners this past summer in the middle of the pandemic.


“We say all the time within the 10s how thankful we are for CARA’s fortitude in the face of all of this upheaval because it has been a respite for so many people,” she said “There are a lot of folks who’ve gone through some really tough stuff over the past couple months, and they show up time and time again on those Saturday morning runs … just because this is their only outlet. So it’s really an incredible community that CARA has allowed us to build.”


So, Mysliwiec’s running, which started as a way to learn her neighborhood and meet people has evolved into a stress relief and a life lesson.

She has been a Group Leader for the Perfect 10s for three years and said the best part about it mentoring people along the way.


“I really love supporting the new runners, they’re the lifeblood of the group, and their energy and enthusiasm really carries along,” she said. “It’s really fun to see those people hit their goals week after week.”


And the events of 2020 have created a lot of new runners.


So, her best advice for new runners: “Run with a grateful heart.”

“Just thinking along the lines of ‘I get to do this,’ instead of ‘oh, I have to do this.’ That always helps me,” she said.

She said when she’s in the middle of a tough run, she thinks of how grateful she is to be able to do this: “That I’m healthy enough, that I’m strong enough, that I have this beautiful lakefront path to run on, that I get to run in this cool city. …”


Some runs are better than others, she added, but they can’t all be winners.


“Just thinking along the lines of ‘I get to do this,’ instead of ‘oh, I have to do this.’ That always helps me,” she said.

Frankly, we think that’s good advice for all runners.


At CARA, we are grateful for Mysliwiec, all the Group Leaders, all the volunteers and all the participants in our varied programs. We couldn’t do what we do without you.


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The Chicago Area Runners Association, CARA, is a non-profit organization committed to serving and advocating for the local running community. We are Chicagoland’s running club, providing accessible opportunities for all runners to train, race, learn, be social and volunteer. 

CARA, with over 10,000 members, is the nation’s third-largest running club, serving as the voice of local runners, as well as providing over 1,300 dates of programming and events per year.

 

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