How I Fell In Love With Running

How I Fell In Love With Running

It wasn't love at first stride
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I used to hate running. Like I really hated it. If you gave me the option of whether to lift or run, I would choose lift ten times out of ten. When we’d run 3 miles for Crew, I wanted it to end before it even started. I’d finish gassed, exhausted, sore, and hot. Don’t even get me started on running sprints for lacrosse/squash. I was a kid who hated running; so I logically joined the cross-country team my Junior Year of High School. Made a lot of sense, I know. The summer before my first season, I think I logged 100 miles. I thought this was a lot at the time, and it made me like running a little more. After that summer I didn’t flat out despise running, but started to see it as a chore. It was synonymous to cleaning my room. I continued to see it this way this through two seasons of Cross Country and 4 seasons of Track (what can I say, I liked throwing javelin a lot more than running).

Even after I started my physical transformation, running was still a chore.

Through this past summer I ran a little more, but still focused mainly on sprints (as I found the quick bursts of pushing myself enjoyable), opting for one, maybe two long distance runs a week. Even then, my long distance runs were rarely more than 4 miles. I knew I needed to get cardio in (both steady state and HIIT) but preferred anything to long distance running, and often opted for HIIT.

I thought people who ran for distance were delusional. I remember watching Casey Neistat’s Vlogs, and seeing him run 7 miles and enjoy it. This was insane to me. Who in their right mind would run for that long, nonetheless enjoy it.

Then it all changed this past December. Over my Christmas break I wanted to lean out a little bit, so I tried the 30 days of Spartan Fit. This is a program designed to prep your body mentally and physically for a Spartan Race. Unfortunately Spartan Races do have a running component, and the component I hated the most when I ran my race over the summer. Eventually I reached what was around day 7, doing great about not missing a workout. I looked to the book and saw the day’s workout was a 60-minute run. FML. I had never run for more than 40 minutes, and had only done that once. But I was not to, and am still not, one to miss a workout, so I ran.

I ran everywhere. I didn’t lay out a course, or a pace, I just ran for 60 minutes straight. Surprisingly, I loved it. I thought this must’ve been a fluke. That I only liked it because it was a challenge; the same reason I liked the aforementioned sprints. Fast-forward a week. The workout was a 75-minute run. I wasn’t excited. But I did it, and once again I loved it.

Eventually break was over and I needed a fitness plan to keep me going, and I knew my body responds well to running, no matter my disdain of it, so I googled “ running plan”. I happened to stumble upon a half marathon-training plan. 12 weeks, 5 runs a week (mind you this would be in addition to my 3 lifts a week). That’s a lot of running, or at least a lot more than I normally did. I also knew I would be spending most of my runs on the treadmill, as I go to school in what feels like the tundra. If I hated anything more than running, it was running on a treadmill (this is an opinion I still have) .

But to my surprise my infatuation with running continued on after break. After 2 weeks I signed up for a half marathon. Now I’m 8 weeks in and look forward to my runs, sometimes feeling my runs aren’t long enough.

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t always all sunshine and rainbows. You have to work on your relationship with running. I find treadmills a lot easier to tolerate when I’m not listening to my typical workout playlist (though I still use it for outdoor runs). Instead I throw on YouTube/Netflix on my iPad, or have recently started using podcasts for my longest pieces. For all three of these things I find sports shows/podcasts work best (shout out to Colin Cowherd for providing the best radio show in the world to run to).

I also like having a headband on, even when my hair wasn’t long; it just keeps the sweat out of my eyes, I may look ridiculous but it works.

Now I’m at the point where I place extra runs in my week, or feel weird if I don’t run on a day. Is it weird? Yeah. But I love it. I guess the moral of my love story is this: sometimes embrace what you love if other love it, you may just find yourself falling in love with it.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/539021/the-office-fun-run-promo-pics-08/

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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The Potomac Urges Me To Keep Going

A simple story about how and why the Potomac River brings me emotional clarity.

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It's easy to take the simple things for granted. We tell ourselves that life is moving too fast to give them another thought. We are always thinking about what comes next. We can't appreciate what's directly in front of us because we are focused on what's in our future. Sometimes you need to snap back to present and just savor the fact that you are alive. That's what the Potomac River does for me.

I took the Potomac River for granted at one point. I rode by the river every day and never gave it a second glance. I was always distracted, never in the present. But that changed one day.

A tangle of thoughts was running rampant inside my head.

I have a lot of self-destructive tendencies. I find it's not that hard to convince yourself that life isn't worth living if nothing is there to put it in perspective.

My mind constantly conjures up different scenarios and follows them to their ultimate conclusion: anguish. I needed something to pull myself out of my mental quagmire.

All I had to do was turn my head and look. And I mean really look. Not a passing glance but rather a gaze of intent. That's when it hit me. It only lasted a minute or so but I made that moment feel like an eternity.

My distractions of the day, no matter how significant they seemed moments ago, faded away. A feeling of evanescence washed over me, almost as if the water itself had cleansed me.

I've developed a routine now. Whenever I get on the bus, I orient myself to get the best view of the river. If I'm going to Foggy Bottom, I'll sit on the right. If I'm going back to the Mount Vernon Campus, I'll sit on the left. I'll try to sit in a seat that allows me to prop my arm against the window, and rest my cheek against my palm.

I've observed the Potomac in its many displays.

I've observed it during a clear day when the sky is devoid of clouds, and the sun radiates a far-reaching glow upon the shimmering ripples below. I can't help but envy the gulls as they glide along the surface.

I've observed it during the rain when I have to wipe the fogged glass to get a better view. I squint through the gloom, watching the rain pummel the surface, and then the river rises along the bank as if in defiance of the harsh storm. As it fades from view, I let my eyes trace the water droplets trickling down the window.

I've observed it during snowfall when the sheets of white obscure my view to the point where I can only make out a faint outline.

I've observed it during twilight when the sky is ablaze with streaks of orange, yellow, and pink as the blue begins to fade to grey.

Last of all, I've observed it during the night, when the moon is swathed in a grey veil. The row of lights running along the edge of the bridge provides a faint gleam to the obsidian water below.

It's hard to tear away my eyes from the river now. It's become a place of solace. The moment it comes into view, I'll pause whatever I'm doing. I turn up the music and let my eyes drift across the waterfront. A smile always creeps across my face. I gain a renewed sense of life.

Even on my runs, I set aside time to take in the river. I'll run across the bridge toward Arlington and then walk back, giving myself time to look out over either side of the bridge. I don't feel in a rush for once. I just let the cool air brush against my face. Sometimes my eyes begin to water. Let's just say it's not always because of the wind.

I chase surreal moments. The kind of moments you can't possibly plan for or predict. Moments where you don't want to be anywhere else. The ones that ground your sense of being. They make life truly exceptional.

Though I crave these moments, they are hard to come by. You can't force them. Their very nature does not allow it. But when I'm near the river, these moments just seem to come naturally.

I remember biking around DC when I caught sight of the Potomac. Naturally, I couldn't resist trying to get a better view. I pulled up along the river bank, startling a lone gull before dismounting. I took a few steps until I reached the edge of the water. The sun shone brilliantly in the center of the horizon.

A beam of light stretched across the water toward me, almost like a pathway to the other side of the river. I felt an urge to walk forward. I let one-foot dangle over the water, lowering it slowly to reach the glittering water below. I debated briefly whether I could walk on water. Though it sounds ridiculous, anything felt possible. Snapping back to reality, I brought my foot back up and scanned the vast blue expanse before me.

Eventually, the wind began to buffet against my left cheek, as if directing me to look right. I turned my head. A couple was walking along the bike path. They paused beneath a tree for a moment and locked eyes. Smiling, the man leaned in and whispered something in the woman's ear. As she giggled, they began to kiss softly.

While I looked on with a smile of my own, I couldn't help but wonder if there was someone else out there in the world willing to share this moment with me.

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