Sixth grade was the year that you were allowed to participate in a school sport. This was what my friends and I had all been waiting for since we started middle school. I had already made the cheer team with my friends, but I had to wait to start that in the winter since we cheered for basketball. I really wanted to have some sort of activity in the fall, but I did not know what to do. Somehow, I decided to run cross country. Not really sure how I decided on a sport where it was quite literally just running. A few of my friends were doing it as well, so I knew it was going to be fun.
Little did I know what I signed myself up for.
I am a fairly active person. I try to go to the gym at least four times a week and I also do workouts at home. I mean, I was only in middle school then so I also still had gym class every day. I was really excited about being forced to run because it would allow me to be healthy and fit. Practices were every day after school and we would run around 2-3 miles. The meets were every Thursday and they were two miles. Doesn't seem too bad right? They really weren't, but I also was really dramatic. After the first year, I told myself I was never going to do cross country again. But then I ran in seventh grade and eighth grade. Obviously, I don't listen to myself. However, looking back at it, I am glad I decided to run in middle school because I made close friendships and it was not too serious. It was all for fun.
High school came around and there was no way I was going to run. In high school, the meets are a 5K, which is 3.2 miles and the practices are more intense. The people are also more intense — for good reason. The best runners are trying to get scholarships for college. I was definitely not interested in running in college. I decided to stick with cheerleading my freshman and sophomore year and even lacrosse, which is possibly the funniest thing I have ever done. I lack eye-hand coordination in sports if that tells you anything.
In my junior year I decided I wanted to stop cheering, but I wanted some sort of sport. My parents encouraged me to run cross country and I went for it. It was way harder than I thought it was going to be. First of all, the practices are right after school in the blazing sun. This is at the beginning of the school year, so August and September when the weather is just brutal. Second of all, the practices are the actual worst. I am talking about 3-8 miles every day. In addition to that, we lifted weights and did yoga. Not going to lie though, I was in the best shape that I had ever been. It was nice being forced to workout.
One major problem, however, was that I got shin splints. Now, if you have never had these, then you are so lucky. Of course, I had not run that consistently in three years so my body was not used to it. I was in the worst pain ever in the middle of the season and I had to skip many practices because of it. I eventually recovered and had learned my lesson which was to always stretch and never overexert your body. I finished the season and decided to not continue my senior year. It was a good time, but I really wanted to focus on other things during my last year of high school.
So now we're here. The present.
I started running again when I moved home from college.
There were those times when I just really needed to get out of the house and de-stress. I found an 8-week running plan on Pinterest and decided to see where it took me. I literally love running now. I am not competing with anyone. I am just doing it for me. My health and my happiness. A bunch of my friends and I have even downloaded this app called Runkeeper, where you can post your runs and comment/like on your friends' runs. It is so nerdy, but I love it! I knew that running had so many benefits, and I am honestly seeing them because I am actually enjoying it now. It has truly made me happier, especially during this quarantine. It has kept me motivated to stay in shape and it has improved how I view life.
Even if it is not running, I encourage you to find something that helps you de-stress. We all need it in this time of uncertainty and I promise you that you will see the difference that it makes.