Why I Fell in Love with Running

I wasn’t always a runner. I think that I was part of the track team for a season in middle school—I say “think” because I can’t remember exactly the details. I am pretty sure that I blocked it from my memory! However, I remember that I tried to get into track in high school but decided it just wasn’t for me. I joined the volleyball team and it was definitely my jam. I LOVED it. I played on off season teams and thought that I would play on a club team in college. That didn’t exactly happen. I was feeling overwhelmed with everything else in college so I just ended up going to the gym to keep in shape. Towards the end of college, I would run a few miles to get some cardio in—maybe 3 or 4 tops.

My first year at work, I really just focused on work—passing my LEED exam and learning Revit MEP to teach to the engineering group. Once I was more settled, I was feeling like I needed a hobby and started to think of bucket list items. I think it was spring time and the Boston Marathon was approaching when I was starting my list. My friends and I always watched the marathon (we went to Boston University) but back then it was mostly an excuse for day drinking. I don’t think I even had an idea of what running 26.2 miles would mean. Being out of school, I realized that 26.2 miles was a long way and it would take a lot of work. I was looking for a challenge and a way to get fit, so I ordered Hal Higdon’s Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons to read up on what it would mean to run a marathon. I ended up getting really inspired and signed up for Chicago Marathon 2009. We had friends in Chicago so it would be a great excuse to get there. And so it began….

I started training with Hal’s beginner program. I didn’t love running but I was determined to finish that marathon even if I decided to never run another one again. The training wasn’t easy but I loved the routine and reaching new distances (literally). It felt unreal when marathon day approached. I had no idea what to expect. Hal Higdon prescribes that most of your runs are paced per mile 60-90 seconds slower than your race pace. And it was pretty much dead on. I was in awe of what my body and mind had endured. My body was tired and I could barely walk down stairs or sit on a toilet after I crossed the finish line, but I knew there were going to be many more marathons for me. I ran a 3:41:27 and the BQ time then was 3:40. There was no way I wasn’t going to get that 3:40.

Running became something that helped me escape worries and just be at peace. It taught me life lessons on how to overcome both mental and physical challenges. It taught me patience, fear and confidence. It helped me connect with a new community and meet some great friends. It continues to be something that helps me grow as a person. I look forward to seeing what new lessons I learn from running as my life goes through different phases.

Having said all that, running isn’t the only activity that can can teach these lessons and have the same satisfaction. What is your thing that gives you a similar challenge, feeling and satisfaction?