Even though I played soccer for 14 years, I hated running. “Run two laps around the field to warm up” would be met with trepidation and groaning; not just by me, but by most of my teammates. It seemed that hating to run, yet running miles during an 80-minute match, was the ironic standard of girls’ soccer. And don’t even mention a timed-mile fitness test, or the beep test! It’s still one of the proudest moments of my life when I broke 7:30 on a mile; a time that I haven’t tried to meet since.
This is all while I was in middle school and high school: when running, especially running the mile (which was an impossibly long distance at the time), was a contemptable fiend to be avoided at all cost. But that was before, when I was a melodramatic teenager, scared of change and stuck in my ways.
“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ― John Bingham
The summer between my freshman year of college and my sophomore year of college, I experienced a crisis of self-esteem. This was not uncommon for teenage girls, some of whom you hear about in various magazines and news broadcasts as having body-image issues- a national epidemic. But, instead of just disliking my body, I also disliked how out-of-shape I was.
I used to play 100-minute soccer games (regulation time of 80 and then two periods of 10) without a single break—except in between halves—and with boundless endurance. In July of 2016, I could barely walk up two flights of stairs without becoming winded. Shame rocked to me to my core, which had not gained any visible mass in my lack of vigorous exercise, thankfully, and pushed me to make some changes.
I wanted to go back to how in shape I was with soccer; I wanted to be able to run without fighting for breath; and I desperately wanted to feel strong and confident. It became a matter of mental health and I realized that only I had the power to get myself to a place where I could be proud of me. So, I downloaded two aps: C25K and MyFitnessPal. C25K would provide a running program that would help me become a better runner and eventually work up to running a 5K (3.1 miles). MyFitnessPal would help me track my calories and nutrition, holding me accountable for what I was putting into my body.
Running—that hideous fiend that haunted me throughout my childhood and adolescence—suddenly became my refuge, my therapy, my challenge. Starting out, it wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning of August when temperatures measured in the 90s and my sweat after a workout could be measured in multiple cups. But with the program, which I continued into my fall semester, I improved. Soon, a mile was passed, then two, then three, before reaching the 5K in November.
And somewhere in that time, by some miracle, I had fallen in love with running. I looked forward to workouts, to meeting times and distances, to exerting nervous and/or frustrated energy (which depended on what was going on in life). And, it was official: not only was I addicted to coffee, which everyone already knows, but I was also addicted to the feel of my feet gliding over the ground, the swing of my arms driving me forward, and the contracting of my leg muscles with each step. I felt strong and I felt confident. And, soon enough, five kilometers wasn’t enough; I wanted 10. So, over the winter, I began training for the 10K, with an ap called 10K Trainer—made by the same people who created C25K.
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” ― Dean Karnazes
Again, more distance requires more energy and more discipline. It took me longer to reach the 10K than it did the 5K, but each workout and each mile was worth the sore muscles, the fatigue, and (definitely) the endorphins. I ended up injuring my knee and ankle with the training and my progress was slowed for a couple weeks, but that only made me appreciate my body and my ability to run and move once I was back on the track.
Through it all, I never gave up and finally reached running the 10K in full when I returned home from my spring semester of university this year. I continue to run the 10K about three to four times a week, whenever I can get out around work (both the part-time job and internship variety; not to mention the chores, errands, reading and writing). This means I actually wake up at five o’clock in the morning and am on the track by seven, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. With running shoes on and a podcast playing in my ears, there’s no other place I would rather be—other than curled up with coffee and good book, which is always waiting for me when I get home.
When I started this running program, I never imagined I would actually make the distance and then want to keep going. I never imagined that I would find a new interest and hobby; not to mention gain some endurance and confidence. Running restored my self-discipline and self-motivation that I’d lost when I stopped playing soccer, and I didn’t realize how invaluable that was. Through the training, I proved that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to as long as I never give up and stick to the promises I make to myself.
My body is the only one I’m going to have, and I want to take care of it. That’s why I run: because I love it, and I love knowing that I’m taking care of my body.