Confession: I hate running.
As a child, I’d beg my parents to let me stay home from school on days we had to run around the track or do the pas test in gym class. Later as an adult, I was dragged along on a couple of jogs by friends, who thought overbearing coaching and eye-rolls would inspire me to pick up the pace. But, really, the only thing that motivated me was estimating how many more minutes I had left of pain in my shins, how as soon as I stop I’ll be able to breathe normally again, and my growing anxiety.
No, I prefer something a little more peaceful and easygoing: a steady hike, a calming yoga practice, a 40-minute walk on the treadmill distracted by my current favourite show on Netflix.
When I moved to a new town, with tons of different sports teams, a fancy gym and dozens of fitness classes going on every day, I suddenly was surrounded by people who are passionate about all sorts of activities, including, yes, running. We even have a few jogging paths around the town and one inside the gym itself that you see people on all the time.
As I became more and more into fitness and started making new friends at the gym, I slowly started to develop an interest in running. I wanted to know a ‘Runner’s High” I always heard my friends talk about felt like. I wanted to be able to tag along whenever they went for a group run or signed up for a race together. That winter I ate started running on the track with a close friend of mine and wore my Fitbit watch at all times. I wanted to start training a 5-10k. The more I ran, the happier I felt, and the happier I felt, the more I ran.
I wasn’t fast, but that didn’t matter. With every passing day, I looked at myself in a different, more positive light. I might not have loved myself but I didn’t hate who I was anymore. I kept at the running almost every chance I could. I loved it when someone called me a runner, a title I still struggle to fully give myself up to this day.
Here how I did it:
I had support. My best friend and partner has been instrumental in me becoming a runner. He is the most dedicated person I have ever met once he has a goal and he been my inspiration. How could you not be inspired by him, he ran trains like crazy, always seems to be in the top 5 of every race he runs, etc. His friendship and encouragement got me to this place. Plus I didn’t want to let him down.
I started slowly with the right expert help. He also helped me get started, by writing down what was basically a training program. The great thing about the program is that it was gentle, I stuck to the plan and running never felt horrible and I never hated it. I am not saying it wasn’t challenging, but it was a gentle challenge and one that I could handle. And as I started running longer distances, my mind and body became stronger.
The rewards became worth the effort. Running gives me mental space in my incredibly full life. It’s something for me that makes me a better person. It’s something I can do alone that has brought me a lot of calm and has quietened the anxiety and self-doubt that I’ve struggled with most of my life. I have lost weight and gained physical strength and fitness. I battled through lots of injury and pain which have made me more resilient. I have achieved things I never thought I could which have made me feel really good about myself.
I found the thing that works for me. Running worked as an exercise for me because it was convenient, I didn’t have to be anywhere at a set time. It’s flexible and works with my constantly changing days
Long story short, I used to genuinely hate running and now I genuinely love it. I have mental strength, physical endurance and a sense of self-respect that I have never had before. I admire myself so much for getting my body out there and running. I feel brave and strong and fit, things I always wanted but never knew how to get. Running has made me way more awesome. Give it a go, it might make you more awesome too!