A lot of time running is associated with exhaustion, boredom, and out right torture. I used to feel this way. I used to look at running as a form of punishment. I used to dread days when I knew I needed to run to stay in shape for track season. I used to want to cry going to practice and have anxiety about completing the workout. Simply put, I used to hate it.
Growing up, I NEVER ran long distances. I've had fast-twitch muscle fibers, meaning sprinting was more my thing. I was quick and fast but couldn't run for a long period of time. Because of my quickness, I ran track all throughout middle school and high school, but SOLELY sprints. When I say sprints, I mean 100 meters and 200 meters.
As I got older and trained harder, I was introduced to the 400 meter race. One track meet, my coach made me run the open 400 and I laughed when she told me that. I thought "who does she think I am?"
Obeying my coaches orders, I ran my first 400 ever my Sophomore year of high school. I finished the race with my heart pounding outside of my chest and legs like jello. I was honestly so impressed that I even crossed the finish line. I totally thought I was going to be that girl that just steps off the track mid-race.
For my first 400, my time was decent. My coach told me that our 4x400meter relay was going to be the relay to make it out of the district and I should train to be on it. I kept thinking to myself... me??? run a 400 every meet??? Before this, the longest I had ever raced was 200 meters.
The next two years of my track career I trained so hard for that 400. I grew to have a love/hate relationship with it. Don't get me wrong, I still HATED the feeling of anxiety before racing and the utterly unbearable exhaustion when crossing the finish line. But, there was something about that race and it being long enough that you're so focused and the world seems to disappear.
I became addicted to this feeling. This feeling that you're so attuned to your body, but nothing else matters.
Let me just say this though... I did fall in love with this feeling, but I did NOT fall in love with the 400.
Fast forward 2 years. I am about to be a Junior at the Ohio State University and I genuinely like to run long distances for fun. Emma, long distance runner? Yeah, I know that it sounds weird. Any teammate I had would think the same.
Now that there isn't this need to be sprinting the fastest times, long leisure runs became incredibly therapeutic for me. I look forward to long runs now and do them for happiness, not because I need to work out. As someone who deals with anxiety, running has become an avenue to release these pent up emotions and give my brain a break.
I continue to surprise myself with how long I am actually capable of running. A few weeks ago, I went for a 7.5 mile run and loved it. I ran at a moderate pace the entire time, finishing in a little over an hour. Some of you may be reading this and thinking that that is nothing and could be easily achieved. To me, the girl who didn't run more than 200 meters, this was a huge accomplishment.
I like running in scenic outdoor places because it helps me truly block out the noise in my head. My dad always says "the answers to all your worries are found in nature."
So, no I am not this incredible runner and in no way is this a post to brag and convince you to run for fun too. I am just sharing this to tell you about my form of mental therapy and how something I thought I despised, I grew to enjoy greatly. Doing things to make you happy and peaceful are what's most important in life.
Find something that you love and don't lose sight of it. It can be difficult, trust me I know. But, there is no way to get past that if you don't try it out. Yes, your first run could be slow. Yes, you probably won't run the entire thing. Yes, you will be so tired. You won't be able to get to the beauty of it if you don't go through the pain. This is the way life is. Going through tough times makes you who you are. The bumps along the way help you to uncover what you love and appreciate different things in life.
Put yourself out there. Challenge yourself. Find fulfillment. Enjoy life!