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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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Public Health May Be The Most Important Area To Focus On As A Society

I saw with my own eyes the importance of public health initiatives in villages throughout Honduras and Nicaragua.

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Medical exploration and healthcare management has thrived throughout the 21st century, with major developments in epidemiology allowing organizations such as the World Health Organization of the United Nations to track the spread of preventable diseases such as malaria and influenza across impoverished countries worldwide. I saw with my own eyes the importance of public health initiatives in villages throughout Honduras and Nicaragua when I traveled there as a Brigadier with Stony Brook's Public Health Brigade, a coalition organized by Global Brigades during the Summers of 2016 and 2017.

Working alongside other university collaborations such as Boston University, I was mesmerized by the impact that improvements such as clean water through mountain pipelines and sustainable housing could do in reducing the severity of Zika virus outbreaks in the region, as accentuated by the near 8,400 villagers with access to clean water as a result of our efforts.

These experiences demonstrated to me the value of preventative measures highlighted by the public health approach — by attacking the origin of a disease and the medium through which it spreads instead of merely treating the manifestation of its symptoms, a holistic approach would allow for the eradication of a malady throughout an entire region whilst educating the local populations about the importance of proper hygiene practices and fortified infrastructure to prevent its re-eminence. It is for this reason that I feel inspired to pursue a graduate degree in Public Health as a professional, so that I can help contribute to the eradication of preventable illnesses across the globe.

A specific area of interest that I wish to target as a field of study would be the impact of sustainable housing in the eradication of illnesses such as lead poisoning through contaminated water sources. My own experience in this particular aspect of Public Health Administration as a Brigadier with Stony Brook Public Health Brigade showed me the importance of secure infrastructure in the reduction of preventable diseases as an especially pertinent area of community health in the United States, highlighted by the water toxicity crisis in Flint, Michigan.

A recent study released by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at Hurley Medical Center noted an uptick in the blood-lead concentration of Flint Children from 2.4% to 4.9% after changing their water source, with spikes as high as 10.6% in correlation with elevated levels of lead in Flint water. These elevated blood-lead concentrations put these children at higher risk for lead poisoning, characterized by reduced growth rate and learning difficulties. Purification of the available water sources throughout the region would be a comprehensive long-term solution to reducing elevated blood-lead levels amongst Flint residents.

My goals after my master's degree in public health would be to pursue a medical education and become a doctor, or go into Healthcare Administration and eventually work with the WHO of the UN to establish a more easily accessible Healthcare system across various countries to increase the number of people in impoverished areas that can be reached by doctors, nurses and other primary care practitioners. I feel that a proper understanding of public health would, therefore, be essential to establishing my career in service to humanity.

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