I often think back to when my running journey began so that I can remember fully what it is like to be at the beginning of it all. I literally started from nothing. In high school I couldn’t even make it through the 2400m, I was picked last for every activity, and skipped out when ever I could. On a treadmill, I could not last more than a minute, without slowing down the speed to walk. I was never overweight, but I was inactive, and unmotivated to do anything about it. I know what it is like to have zero motivation to get up and move your body. Sometimes it seemed easier to just remain the way I was, the thought of any form of exercise was tiring. The girls in my grade who played soccer on the weekends were completely out of my head. I was very content and comfortable to remain as I was, until one day it all changed. I met someone who had an infectious energy that consumed me and took over my thought processes. She was a tour leader on my trip to Europe and she was a bubbly ball of contagious energy. Every morning she was up, sometimes before the sun, to run. She ran everywhere. For the non-runner, this seemed like a ridiculous thing to do. Why get yourself up before you have to, especially to run. But one night, I found myself talking to her at length about running, how she had started, and why she did it. For her, it was an escape, a way to calm the mind and the body before starting her day. A way that she could see things often before most others. The mornings were quiet and peaceful, her body moved fluidly through the streets of various cities, and her mind was calm. This was all above me at the moment I heard all this, and it wasn’t till now that I reflected on these thoughts, because now, I truly understand them.
I started running that summer in Europe. I followed her through the streets of Rome, Venice, Niece, Paris. I watched her body move fluidly, her breath remain steady. I observed myself, drenched in sweat, horribly out of breath, and running awkwardly down the streets. The start of my running journey was extremely inconsistent. When I came home from Europe I tried to stick with it, but the motivation started to diminish. I ran off and on for about 2 years, extremely inconsistent. Then one summers day my friend asked me to go for a run, and after that I stuck with it. The thing I have learned through this whole journey is that only you can decide whether you want to do it or not. You have to find that strength, that motivation, that desire in yourself to stick with something, or you never will. You have to do it for you, because then, you will have a reason to do it, and you will find a love for it. And when I started running because I wanted to, and because I enjoyed it, then suddenly it seemed so much better.
The start of running is unpleasant, hard, and painful. There is no way to sugar-coat it. But it makes sense. If you have never ran in your life, or haven’t ran in years, it is a lot of stress and effort for the body to do so. Give yourself a break. Do not focus on the struggles, focus on progress you make with each run. It can be discouraging when you set out for a run and hobble back home after 20 minutes, totally wiped out. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it is not easy to get up the next day and try again. I think it is comforting to know, at the start of your journey, that everything you are feeling is normal. But I can guarantee that however much you put into running, you will get back. There will be days where running feels impossible, there will be days that you want to quit, and there will be days where you questioned why you started. But I promise, these days will start to diminish, and be replaced by days where running feels effortless, where you know exactly why you started, where you feel that you could run forever. Running is one of those things that the more you give to it, the more time you commit, the harder you push yourself, the more you will receive.
It is possible to go from someone who can barely run 20 minutes, to a person who can lace up and run for as long as they desire. I know this, because it happened to me. I couldn’t run for a minute on the treadmill when I first started. Now, I could run a marathon on any given day. This did not happen over night, nor did it happen in a year. It took two years of consistent running to build up a solid base. Be patient. Accept where you are at and keep looking forward to where you want to be. Like anything and everything in life, if you want something, if you want to become good at something, you have to put the time in. No matter where you are in your running journey, only look at yourself. Never compare yourself to others around you and where they are. I have seen the quote “I love running, when I’m done!” a lot, and although I fully understand that not every run is going to feel amazing, I think there’s something truly important in learning to love running, while you’re running. Because if you don’t actually like the act of running, why are you doing it in the first place? There are many different reasons why people start running, but if you do not love it, you will never enjoy it.
Running is a dedication that requires hours of work, countless miles and time alone. If you do not love running, you wont stick with it, you will not progress. With each run, bring yourself to the exact moment of the run. Be mindful of how your body feels, your form, your pace, your surroundings. Dive in full heartedly to the run itself and focus on nothing else. When you run in this way, you are engaged in the most intimate and meaningful acts that might occur in your day. When you run with heart, fully, when you are engaged fully, you will fall deeply in love with running. Sometimes it is a challenge to bring yourself the exact moment you are in and love running while you are. There are millions of distractions in our everyday lives pulling our energy this way and that. If you truly love running you will reap the wonderful rewards of it allowing you to relax and clear your mind. It is a way to escape from the demands of our every day lives, a way to focus on yourself, what you want, and what you love. Trust me, this will make your journey so much more enjoyable. Whatever you want to obtain from running, you will receive, so long as you truly love it.
Embrace all aspects of running and love it!!!