Hello! It’s been a little while since I posted last. I was lucky enough to have my mom and aunts in town last week, which was a blast! Moving so far away from home has made me really appreciate when my loved ones are able to come visit and get a slice of what my life is like out here. With the fun of showing my guests around came the consumption of a lot of very delicious food, as well as my fitness schedule being somewhat pushed aside. We walked a bunch and even went on a hike, but I kind of ‘forgot’ about the running plan that I am following for my half marathon race in July.
Let me backtrack a little, because if you would have asked me or anyone close to me 9 years ago if they ever thought I would be running a half marathon, the answer most likely would have been ‘probs not’. Then again, I was a pretty optimistic 15 year old so who knows! (; the point is, back then I was nowhere near having enough stamina to run long distance, and I hated running. Yes, you read that correctly; I used to hate running. Fast forward 9 years and here I am training for my 4th half marathon. You might be wondering what caused a 15 year old girl to magically fall in love with running, and while I wouldn’t say that magical is the right word to explain it, I can pinpoint a few major things that brought me to where I am today.
The biggest change for me back then was getting cut from my high school’s volleyball team at the beginning of my sophomore year. I had started playing volleyball competitively for a few years, so getting cut was a complete surprise. You can probably piece together how heartbroken a 15 year old girl would be after something like this. Yes I literally felt like it was the end of the world. But in all reality it was a pretty tough experience that I think really effected my self-esteem back then. However, it actually led me to some really great lifelong changes that I probably would have never reached had I continued to play volleyball.
Being who I am, I quickly transitioned from feeling bad for myself into thinking ‘okay, so what now?’. In some weird way, it felt like a fresh start. Joining a fall sport was kind of out of the question, so I decided I wanted to join a winter season sport, and one that stood out was the cross-country ski team. Our high school had a pretty intense team, and the head coach was actually my English teacher at the time. All I really knew about it was that the people on the team were badass and that it looked really fun. So boom- I decided that I would give it a try! I even made a bet with a friend that I was going to stick with it the whole season since she thought I would quit after the first month.
The thing is that the old me with the mentality I had while playing volleyball would have totally quit after the first day. No joke. The ‘tryouts’ which were really just a taste of what being on the team would be like since anyone could join, involved running around the lake near my high school which is about 3 miles. The longest I could remember running before that was a half mile around the track which left me basically wheezing, so you could say I was pretty nervous about this. But I did it! I walked a lot, maybe cried for a quick second half way through, but I did it and at the end I got high fives, cheers, and that was that- there was no judging, no recording of my exact speed while everyone faster than me stared. I felt totally accomplished, and extremely sore for the next few days.
I don’t know if it was the feeling of needing to redeem myself, or if I sort of knew that it was a wake-up call to actually get more in shape, but I stuck it out that entire season, joined cross-country running in the fall, and continued with each team until I graduated. I also grew to really love running and when I was going through a ‘hard’ time (like boy problems or having too much homework) I would go for a run to clear my mind. It took alottt of work to get from where I started to now, but I also grew so much through the process. From skiing and specifically from my awesome coaches and teammates, I learned how to properly fuel for a workout, how to dress appropriately for weather, the importance of pacing, and how to cross-train. Further, I also learned what it looked like to actually support others and feel supported, uplifted and pushed to your limit in the best way. And it all started with a run.
I have met many more people that dislike running than I have people that enjoy it- and that’s totally fine! I am not one to push something on others, and I completely understand why people don’t like it.. because I used to be one of them! But if someone asks me if it’s possible for them to pick up running, I will always, always say yes. No matter the age, I think that running is a universal form of exercise that all able-bodied people can do, and that the best piece of advice is that it get’s easier with time. Depending on your body, it may take you a year to get to a place where you enjoy it, but I fully believe that everyone can get there. These days I consider running to be a form of self-care for me as it helps with stress relief and never fails to raise my mood afterwards. The runners high is very real and it is one of the best feelings in the world. Don’t know what I’m talking about? That just means you need to get out and run to see for yourself (: