It all started with a mile…
...that I absolutely hated. Wasn’t expecting that, right? It’s true. I hated running when I first started, and by started I mean ran maybe once a week. I was in middle school just trying to get better at lacrosse. I got a little faster and a little bit more endurance. Running at that point had served its purpose and I was ready to put away the sneakers because, big surprise, I still hated to run. I got bored and I did not have the discipline to stick with it when it gets tough I’ve grown to have now. Now if you’ve been following me from the beginning or you’ve been following for 0.05 seconds you know my story doesn’t stop there. To be honest, it barely even started there.
I continued my once a week streak for a few years and then I came to a crossroad in high school, I could continue to play three, year-round, competitive sports or make a change. The expectation to play year-round and perform was getting to be to much, I was going to three different practices at one point. I decided to stop and just focus on lacrosse. I, on a whim, signed up to run cross country in the fall, as lacrosse was a spring sport. You have to understand at this point, as a junior in high school, lacrosse was my life. Running was just a vessel to serve lacrosse. But, I started to like it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I had great teammates, I was slow as all hell, and I thought five miles was going to kill me, but nevertheless I persisted. I wanted to be the best I possibly could when I stepped on to that lacrosse field, and as much as I did not want it to, I knew running would help. So I ran and I played lacrosse. Then I graduated and went to college and played more lacrosse, using running as a means to an end.
It wasn’t until I couldn’t play lacrosse anymore that running became the life changing thing that is now. For health reasons I had to abruptly stop playing the sport I, at the time, thought was my entire world. Lacrosse had given me friends and success. I was (somewhat) just good at it, it came naturally, and that felt good.
Running was the exact opposite. But if I have learned anything while running it is that you should not let that stop you.
So I signed up for a half-marathon, but don’t worry, not because I was this all-star runner all of sudden, who gets up at 3 am, and wears spandex. It was for a class project. Yup, you read that right, a class project. I like to think this is where the universe was finally like “ugh this girl just needs to learn that this s**t is going to change her life already!”
The school project was to make a health behavior change to better understand the Models of Change. Which would in turn help us to empathize with people going through a healthy lifestyle journey, because after all it is a journey not a destination. I chose running a half marathon because I wasn’t about to give up mac and cheese and change my diet, I hadn’t quite found weightlifting yet (that’s another story) and I’d already run a 5k. It needed to be a challenge, not to much of a challenge, but just enough to push me out of my comfort zone. So, there I was running and still hating it even more than before because it was something I felt I had to do. I still finished the half and felt accomplished and said to myself “okay, I’m good, I did it.”
HAHA if that’s not the biggest lie I ever told myself. It wasn’t an accomplishment and that would not be my last half marathon. I did not commit to that first half like I did for later races and my time and more importantly how I felt during and after shows for it. Anyone else throw up after their first half?! Holla this girl did! Learning the difference between commitment and motivation was a huge life lesson running gave me. I had the motivation and the intention to run these big races, but I could not commit. I was not willing to make sacrifices for a bigger goal. It wasn’t until graduating college, stressed, lost, and depressed that I came to love running. It wasn’t until I dropped the idea that I had to look a certain way, dress a certain way, hit a certain time, to consider myself a runner. Running needed to stop being a means to an end for my me to find peace in it and I’m so happy it did. I finally committed to myself, understanding that bad runs happen but they make the good ones worth it. That putting one foot in front of the other and fighting when it gets tough is worth it. That you can do anything you put your mind to. These aren't just running lessons, by the way ;)
I have now gone on to run ten half-marathons, three full marathons, and I’m far from done yet.
Like any great love affair I’ve had moments of pure joy and moments of sorrow while running. Running has the ability to pull someone out of dark depths; to give purpose; to inspire; and most importantly be fun. Anyone can run and any body can run. Have you ever watched a marathon? Try it or better yet run it. Nothing gives me greater faith in humanity and myself.
Cheers to many happy, healthy, and hopeful miles to all you runners out there!
P.S If you’re interested in diving deeper into some of the lessons I’ve learned from running, here ya go! https://www.thefitgirls365.com/blog/lessons-learned-while-running
Pictured: High School Senior Jennie right before a cross country meet #classic