Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why I run.

The first time I ran was 03/09/2005, and it was an act of pure anger and frustration.  I was overly committed to school and extra curricular activities and working three (3!) part-time jobs for a total of 60-70 hours per week.  I was desperately unhealthy, hardly slept, never cooked, ate fast food practically every single day and washed it down with a 20oz Dr. Pepper, and stayed up drinking with my friends and roommates a few nights a week.  It was the typical college student's lifestyle, really, and I was a very sheltered 19-year-old living on her own for the first time.  I did not know or understand myself at all, I was unaware of what I was doing to my body or mind by letting things get so out of hand.

I forget exactly what set me off, but I believe it was a conflict I had with a good friend at the time.  I remember sitting in my car and being so overwhelmed with anxiety and anger than I literally did not know what to do.  A couple months earlier I had started making some positive changes in my life - I stopped eating meat, cut out soda entirely, and started teaching myself to cook (George Foreman did most of the work for me at first).  As I sat there, feeling like my brain was about to implode, an idea came to me.  I would go to the gym. 

Mind you, I had joined this gym the year before and, aside from one sad attempt at a yoga class, had never worked out there (my lack of financial management skills was also a problem back then, obviously).  I walked in and, in what became my gym-going tradition, immediately stepped onto the scale.  I was hoping hard that I would be under 200lbs, so the number I saw absolutely floored me. 


It really was a life changing moment.  I realized in a flash how ridiculous my life had become, how I had let everything get out of control.  It was also a liberating moment, though.  I understood that my body was not something that was handed to me, a burden for me to carry.  The number on the scale was not something that "happened to me."  I brought it on myself, through a lifelong series of poor choices.  So I walked over to the treadmill, still in jeans and a t-shirt, pushed a few buttons, and started running.  I clocked three miles that day.  That feeling afterwards - of exhaustion, accomplishment, control, pride - is what kept me going back almost every day for the next four months, until I left San Diego and moved to Kenya.

Health is not a state of being - it is a choice you make every day.  2005 was a pivotal year, in that I realized that I needed to make better choices.  The process of losing weight, learning to cook, eating healthier, becoming active - all of it - is ongoing.  I learn more every day, and am always trying to figure out how to apply what I've learned in a way that works for my body and circumstances.  I can't say that it gets easier - I go on plenty of runs that feel just as hard as that first one.  But, somewhere out there on the road, running stopped being something I had to do.  It stopped being an escape, or a necessary evil.  It became essential, joyful, a daily reminder to treat myself well and be present in the moment.  I want, I need, to run.  As silly as I was, as much as I would like to jump in a time machine, go back 10 years, and slap some sense into my teenaged self, I can't help but be thankful for that low point in my life.  I would be here, running happy, without it.


  1. Love this reflection! The big realization moments in life are so special when you look back on them after making such big changes.

    1. It's so true. It took me years to realize that it even was a pivotal moment for me! Thanks for reading :)