As a young plump 8th grade girl I was looking for a purpose. I had recently quit dance class and needed something that motivated me. I had hit a wall with the way I felt about my image. I was depressed and angry with my body. I needed a change. That’s when I first made the goal to start running.
I wanted so badly to get in shape in time to tryout for the high school cross country team. That left me with only one summer to do it. Those three months didn’t seem like enough time to reach my goals, but I strived harder than I ever had to accomplish them.
Oh man…I remember those first mile runs. They gave me burning side aches. I remember vomiting after sprinting the last 100 yards of the run. I remember the tears of frustration over not being able run faster than a 12 minute mile.
But I was trying!
And I was not giving up!
That was what was important.
Try-outs came and I made the team just like any other freshman. Practices started and I soon realized that I was one of the slowest members of the team. It was painfully embarrassing. I had trained so hard to only be passed up by girls that hadn’t run for months.
Our first XC meet was when I hit rock bottom. It was a race with about five different schools. It was hot. Like, 100 degrees in the middle of the desert hot. One mile in and I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t breathe. I was so thirsty, and I was starting to feel nauseous and dizzy. When I finally saw the finish line my team started cheering me on. Then all five of the schools started cheering me on. I think that adrenaline was the only thing that carried me to the finish line. Nervously, I checked to see where I had placed. My stomach dropped and my face grew even hotter. Dead last. By 3 minutes. I was so embarrassed to let my team down. I was more embarrassed that I had let myself down.
I had to do better.
And I did.
I started running twice a day. The weather, my sore muscles, and shin splints were never an excuse to not run. I timed myself. I pushed myself. I started training by body to become stronger by incorporating weight training. Pure grit was the only thing that got me through most days. It was hard, but I had to push through it. I had come this far, and I was not giving up! Then one day I looked back to find that running had become easier. I was no longer pushing to run the full 3 miles without stopping. I was pushing to run the 3 miles faster.
That year I finished 2nd place in the 3A regional XC meet and 2nd on my team qualifying our team to go on to compete in state meets. I grew to love running. I could run an 8:50 minute mile without stopping. I could run 10 miles no problem. I had met my fitness goals.
After graduating high school life got busy. I got into yoga and other things for exercise. Then I kind of just stopped.
I missed the energy and happiness I got from running. But I was back to square one. I could barely run a mile once again. How could I do all the hard work over again?
And then I remember the moment when I finished 2nd place. That feeling of accomplishment was so tangible. I want that back.
Running for me is 80% mental and 20% physical. The benefits reflect the same percentages. That is why I’m choosing to get back into running. Because it is the one thing I get the mental benefits from. I feel better after a 10 minute run than I do after a 45 minute weight lifting session.
But there’s one thing I absolutely know: Exercise is what heals me. Running heals me.
So maybe you are like me and feel like you can never get back into running. Or maybe you’re having a hard time getting the motivation to even begin regular exercise. I hope you can feel inspired by my story to find what you like and try your hardest with it.
What do you like to do for exercise? Any tips from the avid runners on how to stay motivated?