I’m sure if you have read any running blogs, instagram, twitter, etc. you have heard by now that today is National Running Day! This holiday has put me in such a good mood today. I started out my day with 4 miles, followed by body pump and cx works classes.
I don’t think that people who don’t run can really understand my excitement for this holiday. It just makes me happy to know that this sport that I love is being recognized and shared in such a positive way.
The days leading up to National Running Day have lead me to reflect on why I run. There are a million reasons, so its hard to really pinpoint one. I started by thinking about why I started running.
It’s hard to remember an exact point when things changed from running because I “had to” to because I “wanted to”. Since the age of 5 I was active in dance and sports, and once I entered middle school I joined the field hockey team. This was probably my first taste of running and I felt like I had to do it if I wanted to be on the team. When I reached high school the running part of field hockey became more intense. We had to run a mile loop every day before practice even stared. During preseason we had to run 3 miles in under 24 minutes or we had to try again every day until we were successful. This was really challenging for most of us. The coaches let those of us who were not successful stop after 5 days of attempts, but I managed to do it on the second try. I remember my friend had a stop watch and she paced us around the track at an 8 min/mile pace. That was my first taste of how good it feels to achieve a running goal. (Even though I didn’t really know it at the time. Back then I was only focused at being good at field hockey).
As I continued through high school I began running “voluntarily” a little more. I joined the spring track team so I didn’t lose all my fitness when I wasn’t playing field hockey. I occasionally went running with friends over the summer to prepare for field hockey season. This was also the time when I began to be aware of my body image, so I occasionally ran to burn calories.
Then college came and for the first time I had access to a real gym. I went through phases where I would work out a few days a week but then I would get lazy and stop going to the gym for awhile. This continued through most of college until senior year.
When I was in my spring semester of junior year, I studied abroad in London. I was drinking heavy beer almost every day and eating terrible food. I knew that I was gaining weight and was not feeling good about myself, but I didn’t like alot of the food there and I wanted to make the most of my time there by traveling alot and going out all the time. When the weather got warm I would go for runs in Kensington Park occasionally, and I really enjoyed that. But it was not nearly enough to counteract all the eating and drinking I was doing.
I returned home and ran a little bit that summer, lost a few pounds but still wasn’t feeling great. I got to college my senior year and it was party time every day again. I remember the Monday after my 21st birthday I got motivated to make changes. I said to myself, “I am going to do some sort of workout every day”. Even though it’s said that this approach will set you up for failure, it worked for me. Even with a busy schedule I managed to carve out at least 20 minutes of my day to get moving. I began eating “better” (at the time I thought I was healthy, but now I know SO much more…”) It quickly became a routine and then I started giving myself a rest day every 1-2 weeks.
Even though I was still drinking quite often (and eating the occasional late-night pizza) I was able to lose enough weight to feel good about myself. I continued to exercise and watch what I ate after graduation and moving home. I realized that I liked many different types of exercise, and started taking some classes and lifting weights. In 2007 I was living in Baltimore and heard about the Baltimore Running Festival. I decided to sign up for the half marathon. I think that finishing that race was the point at which I considered myself a “runner”.
Since then there have been many ups and downs and too many injuries than I would like to admit. I have run 27 races from 5k to marathons. Some races were awesome and some made me want to swear off running forever. But running has been there for me on the best days and the worst days. And when I need some time away it is always waiting for me when I am ready to come back. Lately running has become something even more to me, as I have become a part of this amazing online running community and prepare to train to be a running coach. I have learned it should never be taken for granted and it is something I need to be a part of my life for many, many more years.
You can read more about my running story here.
Why do you run?
How are you celebrating today?
Also, if you have been thinking about running a Rock N Roll Race, check out the discounts they have going on today! (I signed up for the Rock n Roll USA half-marathon in March!)
Be sure to check out the National Running Day link up at Olivetorun.com!