Why I run

written by Maddy K.

I used to hate-hate-running.  Everything about it.  Never could have imagined myself becoming one of those healthy, happy, well-toned souls I drove by who could force themselves to endure it over and over through the sheer power of their will.   The lucky ones who came up winners in the forever-thin-and-healthy lottery I'd lost.

But now, I love it.  I love the way it makes me feel.  Not that I'm not thrilled at the body-tone and health benefits-and there are many, and they're free, and you can pack a heck of a lot of them into 45 minutes or an hour.  But hands-down it's the clarity and perspective running brings that made a runner out of me.

When I run I can feel the negative thoughts and emotions drain from my mind and my body.  I feel a deep sense of peace, calm and clarity.  I am much more creative, and I'm much more empowered and constructive with the daily worries racing through my mind.  When I run- these tiring predictable conversations stop looping in my head and there is peace, sometimes even answers.   At other times I experience a deep sense of gratitude when I'm running-a crystal-clear appreciation for my family, my friends, my health and the opportunity of my life.

I started for vanity.  (It wouldn't surprise me if everyone else did too.)  As I grew older, it got harder and harder to stay in shape, especially after the birth of my son.  And there was no denying that running was the quickest and in some ways the easiest way to get back in shape.  It strengthens and tones the entire body-not just the legs-and an hour of running can burn anywhere from 500 to over 1,000 calories depending on the speed and intensity of the run!  All you need is a little motivation and a good pair of running shoes.

In the beginning it sucked.  A lot.  The first day I set out to run, I laced up my new shoes and started down my hill, and at first it wasn't so bad. But as soon I reached the bottom of the hill and the street became flat, it became increasingly difficult.  At the first upward slope it became impossible and I had to stop.  After only three blocks!

But here's what I think made it stick this time:

I stopped berating myself for only making it three blocks.  I started walking for a while, and when I caught my breath I started to slowly jog again until I was out of breath, then slowed down again to a walk.  And I continued this for months.  I was gentler and kinder to myself that I had ever been before and I took it one step, one block, one spurt of jogging at a time.  When another jogger would wiz by me, I reminded myself that it was not a competition and would focus on why I was doing it in the first place.

Now I am training for my second ½ marathon.  When I go running I don't worry about my pace (how fast I run each mile).  I just listen to my body and run at whatever a comfortable pace is for me for that day.  In fact, at the time of my first marathon, I was not even sure what my pace was… did I run a 9-minute mile, 10-minute mile or maybe longer?  I didn't care; I didn't want timers or a lofty goal of beating a certain time.  I wanted to have fun, be present and complete a ½ marathon.  My whole life had been about driving towards goals.  I did not want another "to do" on my list, another goal or another burden.  I just want to be free and I am.

Running on beach

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