I ventured off the treadmill for good during my first year of Teach for America. I had just started dating AR, who was a runner. He had done a half marathon, which really inspired me. Running became something we enjoyed doing together and something that kept me sane during the week.
I'd often leave my classroom and escape to the river walk or a trail for a few miles of decompressing. Slowly, my 4 mile limit grew and I was running almost every day. I didn't own a gps watch, so I had no idea how far or fast I was going. I just ran until I didn't feel like I needed to anymore.
Only a few short months after I started really running, I signed up for a half marathon and finished in just under 2 hours. Mind you, I had never run more than 11 miles that day and still didn't own a gps watch. Several short races later, I signed up for my first full marathon. AR and I completed the race only 9 months after my first half marathon.
2 years later, and I am pretty avid running now. I own a gps watch and race pretty frequently. Marathons are my thing and my closet is stocked with running shoes. People often ask how I became a runner or why, and I often struggle to answer. So here is why.
1. Running makes me feel successful.
I started running when I felt like I was failing at everything else. Running was something that I could see immediate results in. If I got up and ran every day, I would get faster and I would go farther. Running made me feel like I could accomplish something.
2. Running is a challenge like nothing else.
I've done a lot of mentally and emotionally challenging things. Nothing compares to how I feel after a marathon. That challenge and feeling of accomplishment is unmatched. Running is mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging. And I love that.
3. Running has taught me to set goals and reach them.
I was terrified when I ran my first half marathon. I went to the race all by myself, I didn't know anyone running and no one was coming to cheer for me. It was my own struggle and accomplishment. But running has taught me to embrace those situations.
AR and I are about to train for our 3rd marathon together. I may have lost count, but I estimate that we have run almost 8 races together. And each marathon, we run every step together. Sure, in a 5k we might split up, but not for the 26.2. It is our thing together and we support each other.
Running is one of the only times we spend hours together with no distractions. No phones, no music, no other people. Just us. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we are silent. But because of running, AR has seen me at my weakest and my strongest. We share the struggle and the victory together.
5. Running has taught me to compete with myself.
My closet is lined with race numbers. Each one has MY time on the back. Running is about me improving. I've learned to push myself harder, regardless of those around me.
6. Running has taught me to embrace the bad days.
Those runs that are just horrible? The ones that make you feel like crying? Those are the runs that train your mind and body the most. When I spend the entire run struggling and pushing myself, I become a stronger runner. What an awesome life lesson.
7. Running make me happy.
Maybe it is the sunshine, the release of endorphins, the fresh air, whatever. Running makes me a happier person.