I was never a huge fan of running when I was younger. The timed mile in middle school gym class was always something I dreaded. Running any more than a mile at field hockey practice in high school was one of my least favorite ways to start off the afternoon.

We didn’t run often for tennis practice, but when we did, I wasn’t happy about it. It wasn’t until senior year of high school that I began running by choice. I had decided to not play field hockey for my final year of high school, but I still wanted to try to stay in shape. I still didn’t necessarily enjoy running, but I continued to try to run on a regular basis.

When I started my freshman year of college, I started running more frequently and regularly. I wouldn’t time myself or measure the distance of my runs. I would just run until I felt tired or it was getting too dark outside. I found that running was a nice way to not only stay in shape, but also take a break from any stress I was dealing with.

I’m not the first to say that exercise is a great way to relieve stress, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I experienced that for myself. The summer after my freshman year, I didn’t stick to a running routine as much. I just wouldn’t take the time to go for a run, and when I did, it was usually a short, half-hearted workout. Eventually, I forgot how much I enjoyed running.

Once sophomore year began, I was inspired by one of my good friends to start running again. I wasn’t in the best shape anymore, but the more I ran and got back into the routine, the more my love for it grew. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the workout, and began to run more than I ever had before and stick to a more strict routine.

Inspired by the same friend who got me back into running, I decided to begin training to run a half marathon. I ran my first (of hopefully many) half marathon the day after moving out of my dorm at the end of sophomore year. I was a little nervous about running 13.1 miles. Could I really do that? After all, it had only really been about 7 months since I started running regularly again.

I always enjoyed my long runs while I was training, so I tried to remind myself that a half marathon would be totally doable and, most likely, even enjoyable. Those 13 miles proved to be the great experience I hoped they would. I was happy with my finishing time, and I was so proud of myself for setting a goal for myself that I had to work for over months and accomplishing it.

I haven’t run another half marathon since then, but I certainly plan to in the future. I also plan to begin training for a full marathon next spring. I’m so grateful that running has once again become something I greatly enjoy. It’s now one of my favorite things to do. When I’m at home, I love waking up early to go running on some of my favorite trails, and when I’m at school in DC, running to the National Mall is always something I enjoy. Running is one of the best things I’ve found to help relieve any stress or anxieties I’m feeling, and it’s a perfect activity to just take some time to myself or to sort out any thoughts that have been floating around in my head. It’s also one of the best times to pick a new album or artist to listen to on Spotify and just run with it blasting through my headphones. I’m so glad that I have found a love for running once again, and this time, I plan to stick with it!