I run for a whole host of reasons.
If you know me, you know that running thing is a fairly new thing for me. When I played soccer, I hated conditioning. “Hated” might be putting it lightly. I played goalie for my high school team. While getting out of conditioning was not the only reason I chose that position, it was definitely a factor.
I avoided running at all costs. I still have nightmares about running stairs at the stadium of Snohomish High School. I used to run enough to stay in shape for the season, but really no more than that. I did not have the dedication that my sister (the collegiate athlete) has, which is probably a huge factor in why one of us is playing soccer for a D2 school and one of us played on an intramural team called the “Blue Tigers.”
I started running toward the middle of my junior year in college. The guy I was dating at the time would go to the gym most weeknights to play basketball and, not wanting to be left out, I would come too. I got bored too easily on most of the equipment in the UREC, so I decided to start running on the indoor track. It was raised above the rest of the gym, so it allowed for PRIME people watching.
I decided I would just start running and keep running until I liked it.
Then that guy broke up with me and it shattered my world.
That is when running became an outlet for me. I didn’t have to think about him, or process what I was feeling, how this was affecting my life and I couldn’t cry because I was pushing my lungs so hard. I just had to focus on the next step. And the next one. And the next one.
My mile time was outstanding. I started to like running because it let me avoid dealing with how my world had fallen apart. I could slip into my Nike Frees, plug in my headphones and let the sweet tunes of Destiny’s Child and Taylor Swift help me forget about my problems.
At that point, running became unhealthy for me. This combination of anxiety, overexertion, and undereating caused me to lose quite a bit of weight. I was never hungry, so I would skip dinner and go for a run instead.
On the outside I was like “Yeah, that’ll show him, breaking up with me; I’ll be hot af now.”
But in reality, I dropped down to 112 pounds, I was terrified and it didn’t affect him at all.
I remember texting my roommate in tears over spring break when I looked in the mirror and I could see my defined ribs when I went to take a shower. My mom called me after she saw a picture I had posted on Instagram and told me that I needed to start eating more.
That summer became a turning point for me. Instead of just running for the sake of running, I decided to train. I was going to run a half marathon. At that point, the most I had ever run was probably 4 or 5 miles, but I was training. I set a goal. I picked a race. I posted a picture on Instagram, that’s how you know it’s real.
So, I googled a bunch of confusing and contradictory information about how to train for a half marathon, finally found a training program that I liked and that worked for me and went for it. I was living in Spokane at the time, so training in the ridiculously hot weather that Spokane got last summer, also the severe smoke issues that we had from all the wildfires last summer, but I loved it.
Every time I ran a little bit further, I felt stronger. I started exploring more of the neighborhoods around Whitworth as I ran out of trails to run on campus. Instead of running to avoid my problems, running gave me a time and place to process them.
I paid 60 bucks for my race and the date was soon approaching. I was much healthier when it came to running, but the rest of my life was still coming together. My love life was honestly a hot mess, so I ran. I was graduating in a couple months with no real plan, so I ran. My friends were all changing and moving, so I ran.
The difference then, and now, is that I wasn’t and am not running mindlessly. I’m not running so I don’t have to think, I’m running so I can.
On the day of my half marathon, I ate my pre-race breakfast of toast and peanut butter, laced up my Nike Frees that excellently coordinated with my running tights and neon shirt, and drove downtown.
(I appropriately listened to Macklemore’s Downtown the whole way there).
I ran the race. When it got so hard that I thought I needed to stop (I’m looking at you Doomsday Hill) Spotify shuffle blessed me with Survivor by Destiny’s Child. I finished the race.
I was still in this kind of daze when I got my medal and wandered back to my car. As soon as I actually sat down, I started bawling. I don’t know where it came from, but I cried the entire way home. It was like I had finally done this thing that had been in front of me this whole time. I was so much stronger than I thought I was.
I was hooked.
Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with a hip injury for a while so that’s made running much more difficult, but thanks to some pushy friends and a great PT I’m planning on running another race right before I leave for Ukraine.
Running helps me process, it helps me deal with things. I’m running mindfully and it’s honestly one of the best things that happened to me. Running helped me avoid my problems, but now it’s helping me deal with them.