I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with running. In high school, despite being active in dance and tumbling, the idea of running a mile was almost painful for me. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that my gym teachers always seemed to pick the hottest, sweatiest Louisiana mornings to march us out to the track, stopwatches in hand, and force us to complete so many laps before they allowed to go back inside with the air conditioner; or maybe it was because, as a perfectionist, I couldn’t stand the feeling of being betrayed by my lungs and my legs halfway through my run, causing me to stop and walk while girls who hadn’t secretly been training at home in their spare time lapped me with ease.
Despite the absence of any natural ability to easily run one mile, I kept training even after I was finished with high school gym classes, and, during my freshman year of college, I finally achieved my goal of running a mile without stopping. While it may seem an insignificant achievement to many, to me, it was proof that I really could do anything if I set my mind to it and remained persistent in working towards that goal.
As I progressed through ungrad and dealt with difficult breakups and challenging classes that threatened to rob me of my sanity (or at least my social life), running became a therapeutic experience. Whenever my legs began to feel heavy or my lungs began to burn, I would focus on reaching the next quarter mile mark and then the next until I had completed my mileage goal for the run. In the same manner, I would focus on solving my problems or achieving my goals: one little bit at a time.
Today, no matter what I have going on, I always make it a point to carve out three or four days a week to go for a run, setting a goal of 10-12 miles each week. Not only do my weekly runs help to clear my mind of any anxieties, they help me to focus my thoughts on what I need to do to continue achieving the new goals I set for myself. And although I may be slow, I’m always proud of myself for reaching the next quarter mile.