For Anna Turner, running has always been a stress reliever, “I remember as a teenager I would go running when I was stressed. There was a trail where I would go to my favorite spot along a brook, and I would just have a quiet moment alone. As an adult I enjoy running as it is a time I can clear my head and just listen to my music, and enjoy the beauty around me.”
Anna grew up in Essex, Vermont with her parents and older brother. As a child, she was enamored by horses. “I spent a lot of time at the barn, and even missed my high school prom because I was at a horse show. As a young person I was very much immersed in the equestrian world.” She thinks back to the amount of time and money that her parents sacrificed to support her love of horses, “I didn’t honestly have an awareness of this until I had to care for my own horses.”
Passion runs deep
Anna was a hockey cheerleader in high school, but showing horses was her passion. A fond memory for her, was a multi-day horse show at the local fairgrounds. “This was one of the best shows I had with my pony, “Gem.” We rode in a number of classes, such as hunter under saddle, hunter hack, and even halter (in hand) classes. This was quite the accomplishment for Gem and I, as we hadn’t always worked well as a team. Gem was a forward horse, and needed training when we first bought him. But, with time, patience, and work, we worked through the difficult times.”
In early 2020, looking for motivation, she joined a local gym. They had a team challenge, Commit to Fit, that intrigued her. Participants earned points for their team when they participated in classes, attended a group workout session (weekly), and met 1:1 with the personal trainer. “I joined the Commit to Fit program because I struggle with staying motivated in the winter, and wanted something to get me out, and thought this would be a good way to start.”
The camaraderie of the women at the gym, was a breath of fresh air for Anna, “We supported and cheered each other on. I also started meeting more people involved in running.” A good friend of Anna’s, Alyssa, introduced her to her current coach (Josh Fields). “I have found the running community to be incredibly positive and encouraging.” Running has changed Anna’s outlook on her overall health. Being active is now a priority in her daily life.
Blazing your own trail
This past October marked a major milestone in Anna’s running career, as she completed her first half marathon. As with so many races in 2020, it had to be virtual, but that didn’t make it any less exciting. “Alyssa, and her husband cheered me on and paced me during my first half marathon, and made the experience positive.” Running past covered bridges, a course mixed with hills and flats, Anna hadn’t come into the race with a time goal, but to her surprise, she finished feeling strong.
Having friends to lean on during the pandemic, and creating home grown races has been instrumental to her motivation. “My friend, Alyssa brought one of her medals, and gave it to me. This made the experience special, as I got to share it with someone. This race truly was a turning point where I realized I wanted to pursue more running goals, and that I saw myself as a running athlete.”
On a recent run, she found herself deep in thought, thinking about the differences between riding and running. “I had a revelation about why I enjoy running more than horses. Having horses is rewarding, however, time consuming and financially draining. Winters are extremely challenging with little riding time. This makes it hard to move forward in training when you have to restart every spring. Running is so easy, I always feel like I’m moving forward.”
As she looks ahead to the future, Anna’s got a full marathon in her sights, and the ultra scene is nipping at her heels “I would love to increase my speed to be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon and to complete a 50k. But most of all, my goal is to ultimately continue to have a love of running.”
When Anna is not running, you’ll find her in the barn with her three horses and goats, or with her four dogs, two of whom she shows. “I love animals, and would love to pursue another career working with them.” She enjoys family time with her husband, Joey and son, Bryant. She also works full time as a special educator at Marion Cross School.
As for what advice she’d give to new runners. “Enjoy the process, and the small steps. It took me a year to see the full benefits. I always remind myself to not compare myself to others. To celebrate the hill that you just ran up for the first time. Also, the running community is wonderful and to reach out for support, as I always have gotten a positive response.”