I didn’t plan to become a runner. I don’t think most people do.
I started running for two reasons: 1. Being a pretty tightly wound person in general, I was stressed and 2. I was in college. Running is free.
When I started “running”, I never ran for longer than 20 or so minutes at a time. During those 20 minutes, I can imagine the actual runners who I passed at the time (and probably everyone else, too) wondered why I kept stopping to tie my shoes so frequently.
One day, after a particularly stressful day of being myself, I decided to stretch my route a little. As I was nearing almost an hour, I decided to keep running. Ten miles and more time than I care to admit later, I was hooked. I registered for my first half-marathon and began my first attempt at training for a race.
I finished my first half marathon on November 12th, 2016, something I never thought I would do. Since that first race, I have run 4 more half marathons, a full marathon, and I am less than a week away from running my second full marathon (less than 4 weeks after my first full marathon).
Running is hard. It takes time and it takes patience (both things I would have argued I didn’t have 3 years ago). More than anything, it requires you to be committed to yourself and your goals. In the last 3 years, I have learned the importance of prioritizing myself and my goals. Getting up while it is still dark out, in every kind of weather you can imagine, to run before you even make it into the office to start your day? Hard. Going to bed early when everyone else is going out? Hard. 20+ mile training runs on a Saturday morning at 6:30 am or earlier? Hard.
Funny enough, the hard parts of running are also what make it one of the most empowering things I do. As a runner, I have pushed myself to do more than I ever believed I was capable of (starting with getting out of bed before 6am regularly). I can honestly say completing my first full marathon was the most accomplished I have ever felt. Most importantly, running has forced me to become more patient with myself. Not every run is a great run, but pushing through the hard days to become better and achieve goals has made me stronger and more forgiving (and honestly, a bit more tolerable).
Training for a marathon has challenged me in ways I would have never expected, and my relationship with running has changed a lot in the last 6 months. Even with the added pressure of a training goal, running is still my number one stress reliever (my whole team will tell you they know when I skipped a morning run). Running isn’t for everyone — I’ll admit this even though I’ve spent 2 years telling my boyfriend otherwise. Even if it isn’t running, find the thing you love that forces you to grow every day. Already have your “thing”? Share it with us!