five things I learned as a runner

5 things I learned as a long-distance runner

Yes, I am a runner. No, I'm not crazy- I don't think.

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The first thing that most people say when they find out I'm a runner is either "I hate running." Some people even say, "What?? You ran 10 miles today?? Are you crazy??" And to that I respond: maybe, who knows?

The truth is, I hated running at first too. It wasn't like I was a natural runner. I didn't just one day decide I wanted to be a runner and then the next day, I ran 20 miles. No, I started running with my mom in the fourth and fifth grade, and I absolutely hated it. My lungs burned and my legs hurt after one mile for weeks. But now, almost 13 years later, I still enjoy running, and I ran my first marathon last year. The following are the ten things that I learned through my journey as a long-distance runner.

1. Being a runner isn't easy, unless you are Forrest Gump.

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I was by no means like Forrest Gump in which I started running one day, and then I never stopped. It took weeks, months, years, for me to feel like I could run more than 3-4 miles without passing out. As they say, practice makes perfect. Running taught me that if you persevere with something, then you will most likely be able to succeed in the end.

2. As a runner, sometimes you have your good days and other times you have your bad days.

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Sometimes I feel like I could run mile after mile, and I would never get tired. These days my feet feel like they are running on air, and I feel fly free like a bird. Sometimes I feel tired after only a short run, my legs are heavy, and I don't want to take another step. Whenever I have bad days, I try to not beat myself up because sometimes your body and mind just need a break. No need in pushing yourself too hard. You got to give yourself a break from time to time.

3. Running taught me the importance of getting over the hard stuff in life. 

Let's face it. Life is hard, and it is easy to get a rut. When things go badly or not the way we planned, it is easy to become frustrated. During my years of running, I have gotten injured twice, and both times, it took a long time to recover, and I felt angry, hopeless, and frustrated. It didn't seem fair, and that's because life isn't fair. But we can't give up just because something is hard. After I was healed from my second injury, I decided I wanted to continue to run (despite my cross country coach being nervous). I enjoyed running and I didn't want two bad injuries to stop me from running forever. After months, I was finally able to run again. And by the next year, I was on the Girls' Varsity team at my high school. You can get through the hard stuff if you just don't give up.

4. Like many things in life, running takes patience and practice. 

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I didn't get super serious about running until high school. I joined my school's track team and cross country team, and it took me years before I finally was able to do longer distances. Some weeks I barely did any mileage, but slowly and surely I was able to run farther and farther. I wasn't able to do a half marathon (13 miles) until my junior year of high school. Then, by college, I was able to do three more half marathons, pretty easily. Then I decided I wanted to reach one of my big goals: running a marathon. My college friends thought I was crazy. Even I thought I was crazy. How was I supposed to run 26.2 miles? To be honest, I probably should have trained more (the most I ran before the race was about 15 miles, yikes), but somehow, I was able to complete the race (and I only cried once!! *whip* *dab*) Let me tell you, the finish line looked so good. All my hard work and patience had paid off.

5. You got to get over how other people see you, and stop comparing yourself. 

Yeah, some people are just going to be better than you at some things. In high school, I was constantly comparing myself to my teammates who were faster than me. No matter how fast I was, it was never enough, in my mind. I set the bar for myself super high, and this caused a lot of internal stress for me before my track meets and cross country races. Then if I sensed any disappointment from my teammates, my parents, or my coach about how I didn't place super high in a race, I would beat myself up about it. However, I had to learn to not worry about how other people saw me. I had to just do my best, and that had to be enough. Since coming to college, I realized that I don't have to be the best runner. Just being able to finish a run or crossing the finish line is good enough for me.

As a runner, I have learned that life has its ups and downs, but in the end, it's going to be all okay, and working hard is going to pay off in the end.

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Dear 'Straight Pride,' Check Your Privilege: It's HOMO-Sapiens, Not HETERO-Sapiens

Don't be upset, you are more than welcome to enjoy your straight-ness, just as much as you have to tolerate our non-straight-ness.

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Disclaimer: This letter contains sarcasm and unfiltered honesty.

Pride month is one of the BEST MONTHS OUT THERE. Four weeks of rainbows, glitter, and good old fashioned love... except for Boston. Apparently, Boston is holding a Straight Pride Parade planned for August 31st to celebrate... well, I'm not quite sure what would be celebrated. Sexual confusion? A false sense of Christianity? The delicate structure that is "no homo?"

Honestly, I feel like its a huge waste of city funds. So, I figured I should highlight some important details about gay pride.

In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City on the basis that being gay wasn't OK. That's it. The raid caused a riot among LGBT+ patrons and neighbors as police brutally threw patrons and employees out of the club. This event was followed by six days of protests and violent clashes, lead by a group of Drag Queens, including Black American Drag Queens. This was the catalyst for the gay rights movement.

Since then, gay rights have made so much progression such as Same-Sex Marriage legalized in the US in 2015, to same-sex couples, and LGBTQ+ roles shown on television.

Dear Straight people,

The entire point of pride is to celebrate a group of people who are ostracized IN SOCIETY. People who have to FIGHT for the right to love, the right to be represented, and the right to be accepted by their friends, family, work colleagues, their place of worship and the rest of the world!

It's all well and good to want to celebrate yourself for your culture and traditions (google search: family holidays), or your own accomplishments during your life (google search: Applebee's). Celebrating sexuality is much more personal because it's still not accepted in most regions or religions of the world.

Don't be upset, you are more than welcome to enjoy your straight-ness, just as much as you have to tolerate our non-straight-ness. You don't have to believe in a same-sex marriage, the same way I don't believe that religion is your sole reason to ostracize, bully, torment and dehumanize a group of innocent people who don't conform. Gay, lesbian, transgender, asexual, bisexual, the victims of the pulse shooting, ALL THESE PEOPLE HAVE HEARTS, TOO.

If at the end of this article, you still care to make an argument, I'd like to ask you some questions.

Have you ever been fired because you are straight?

Have you ever been bullied, assaulted, attacked, or banned from using the bathroom because you are straight?

Has anyone from your family ever stopped talking to you or stopped loving you because of your sexuality?

Have you ever been afraid to be yourself?

Has your church (or any form of safety zone) ever told you that you would burn in hell based on your sexuality?

Let me know.

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The Sad Reality Of Losing My Best Friend

I had been your friend. I wish you stayed mine.

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When I think of you, I think of blue flannels and acoustic guitar strings, the smell of cigarettes and metal, the first day of August, long study sessions, the seventies, roses, earl grey tea, greek yogurt, waking early and sleeping late, the view on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, black coffee, callouses, long walks by yourself at the first hour of dawn, parking tickets, the smell after it rains, Bach's Cello Suite, Polaroid photos, the indifference in your voice the last time we spoke.

My first two years of college were charted by the hours I spent studying and taking long drives with you. I was in a new city, a new apartment, and no one to talk to. There was such peace and excitement in the days we spent together that I wanted to trust, and forgot I trusted, that we would always be friends. When even that changed, I needed a routine to anchor myself to this strange life. In the morning, I'd wake up early to go to the gym, walk along Lake Herrick, or get breakfast at Panera Bread. After class, I'd stay on campus and get my homework done where there are no distractions and the campus scene to remind me I was here to get good grades. If I wasn't doing school work, I was reading in the Founder's Garden. If I started to feel sad, I'd write how I felt in my journal. Writing helps because it makes me feel soothed by what I wrote, even though there's nothing to feel soothed by, much less my own words. At the end of the day, I'd write down why that day was a good one: I got out of bed, I attended class, I emailed my advisor, I finished one chapter, I learned something new online, I went to a coffee shop or a public outing, each movement was good movement. I also wrote down my plans for the next day: take a long walk along the Beltline in Atlanta, read at that coffee shop down the street I'd never been to, go to the museum, buy tickets to that concert, learn how to paint, ask a classmate out to lunch, sign up for that yoga class, visit other places I found on the top 10 places to visit in Athens on The Odyssey. Not every day had to be productive, some days I genuinely wanted to lie in bed and watch Netflix.

Deleting social media was crucial. I wasn't trying to show anyone that I was better. I wasn't trying to be better at all. in Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, "The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience." When I went off the grid, I accepted the fact that I was lonely, and I accept this loneliness because with it comes the ability to learn to not depend on others for fun, the experience of dealing with sadness and hurt, and being my own therapist. I had been your friend. I wish you stayed mine, but I will be okay that you didn't.

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