[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Let me begin with a story from my youth.
Once upon a time, I decided to join the cross country team in 3rd grade. This was the first year that we were allowed to start participating in sports, so like everyone else, I wanted to try every sport that my grade school offered.
I remember being dropped off at the high school where practices were being held and was very excited because I was hanging out with all my friends and starting a new sport! It was a great day to be alive.
Once everyone had arrived, our coaches told us that we were going to warm up with 3 laps around the football field. Upon hearing this I just thought, “No big deal! Running is like walking but faster, am I right??!!!!”
When I actually started running though, I was struck with a great sense of alarm once discovering that running is completely different than walking. Because when I walk, my lungs never burn and feel like they’re being stabbed by a thousand tiny needles.
So while struggling to make it through my third lap, I made a quick getaway under the bleachers so I could escape from the hell that was cross country.
I then proceeded to quit the team after the first practice.
That story sounds like a joke, but I can assure you, it was all too real.
Flash forward to now, where I run 2-3 miles a day, 5-6 days a week. How did I go from hiding under the bleachers to willingly forcing myself to run daily?
A miracle from the God Almighty would be my best guess at the moment.
But honestly, I hope my answer is a testament to the fact that anyone can become a runner.
I’ve always been very into sports in general. I played volleyball for 7 years, basketball and golf in grade school and I even attempted tennis the summer before my freshman year of high school.
But after volleyball ended my freshman year, I kind of let myself go. I never worked out and it wasn’t until the January of my junior year that my best friend Erin and I decided it was time to get off of our asses and start exercising again.
I’m thankful we forced each other to keep going because ever since then, I haven’t stopped.
My entire junior year, I consistently worked out but I wanted to challenge myself more, so I enrolled in a personal fitness class taught by the one and only, Mary Porter.
When I was a freshman in high school, I NEVER would have fostered the idea of enrolling in this class. Every single day you had to run a minimum of 1 mile and once a week you had to run 3-4 and back in the day, I was the spokesperson for anti-running.
This class was definitely a challenge. I’m not going to lie; I was the last person on all our runs. Literally the last one.
I think everyone else was probably a mile ahead of me and I was dying in the back, every once in a while faking shin splints so I could walk up the hills (like you wouldn’t do the same). Eventually, over the course of the class I think I began passing a few people (possibly I’m imagining that, it was all kind of a blur). But overall, I had improved a lot.
So then one day I randomly asked my two best friends, Sydney and Cyra, “Do you guys wanna join the track team with me?!” And thank god they were both as crazy as I was, because they said yes.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’m not going to say I expected myself to be a pro at running now, but I definitely assumed I wouldn’t be the last one in line.
I’m laughing because I was SO wrong.
Track is based upon speed work which means, you need to be faster on your runs than if you were, let’s just say, running in a personal fitness class. Therefore, personal fitness didn’t even compare to track.
In the beginning of the season, these runs were so difficult for me that I would pray to God that someone would jump out of the bushes and kidnap me.
Yes. You heard that right. I literally prayed to be kidnapped.
I just want to let that sink in because after discussing with my friends, apparently I’m the only one to have ever had these thoughts (I thought it would be a universal prayer for all competitive runners but I guess not).
After a few months, I no longer had this desire but I’m not going to pretend it didn’t happen.
The sole reason I stuck with track though, besides my two best friends and the positive atmosphere, was because of my coach, Bird.
I have never met anyone so understanding and so willing to help. I was clearly not in the shape to run track and was clearly never going to be the best on the team, that was very evident. But he would drop back and run with me while I struggled to make it up the mile-long hills; he would motivate me when I was dying and wanting to walk. I am so grateful to him because he pushed me to be my better self and taught me that running is completely mental; your body is capable of so much more than you realize.
He promoted such a positive atmosphere within our team and it was by far the greatest experience in my high school career. I am incredibly grateful to him and can without a doubt say, he is the best coach I have EVER had.
Track was something I looked forward to every single day. I am not exaggerating; my senior year track season was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Not only were we doing something positive for our bodies but it was also an incredibly healthy mental experience as well.
I think my track season was the push I needed to continue running in college.
For some, staying motivated and getting yourself to workout in college is quite a task. You have so much going on that it doesn’t feel important. Before I ran track, I was so worried I’d have that problem but I’m very proud to say, that is not the case.
Though I am in nowhere near as good of shape as I was during that season, I still run daily and as fast as I possibly can. Running is just one of the best feelings you can ever have while working out. You feel so energized afterwards and it brightens up your entire day.
And I know that running is not the easiest form of exercise to get into. It is hard and it takes time to improve and build up your endurance and skills. It is a challenge and forces you to push yourself. But if you start slow and make sure you don’t stop, you will survive running. I promise, it wont kill you (though it may feel like it will).
A mantra I always reminded myself on runs was the quote by Confucius:
“It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop.”
I would consistently repeat that quote in my head while I was running up hills, sprinting around the track, literally anything they made us do during our training.
I will never be the fastest, it was not a hard fact to accept. But as long as I am trying and pushing myself, the outcome is always incredible. That’s why I always try to encourage others to workout, to run, to try something that scares them because the payoff is always better than you could have imagined.
You don’t need a track team to help you live a healthier life. You can be your own motivation. If Erin and I had never motivated ourselves to start working out 3 years ago, I never would have stumbled upon the greatest experience of my life.
Thank you to my coach and track team, for impacting my life so positively.