Even if you don’t remember your first ever run, every runner remembers how they started running and why. Many factors can motivate someone to lace up a pair of running shoes: weight loss, health, an invitation to run a race with a friend, competitiveness, and more. In this month’s Just Run round up, we are all sharing how we started running – and what has kept us in the sport.
Ten years ago, I became a runner. I was a freshman in college and had access to the campus recreation center, so I decided I was going to start running. But the reason was more than a fear of gaining the freshman 15 or anything.
During my senior year of high school, I stopped having my period without any change in diet or exercise habits. Doctors appointments and blood tests revealed that I had a hormonal disorder and faced potential infertility. Such diagnosis is a tough pill to swallow (and those progesterone pills were literally tough pills to swallow) when you’re seventeen and are not thinking much further ahead than college applications and scholarships.
I desired control over my health. I started eating healthier, but I knew that was only part of the equation. Thanks to a PE class in high school, I knew that lifting weights and doing regular cardio were vital to health and fitness. I started lifting weights and doing Pilates at home during my senior year of high school. As soon as I started college, I started running.
I ran three days per week on the treadmill, each time for 3 miles at a 10 minute pace. The treadmill appealed to me more than the bike or the elliptical, which is why I initially chose running. I quickly became enamored with running: I loved the movement, how I felt physically, the 30-minutes of quiet “me time,” and how I felt more creative and productive after a run. That motivated me to keep running throughout all of college, except for a brief hiatus after I slipped on ice while walking around campus.
I started running longer distances during my senior year of college. The further I ran, the more empowered I felt. After graduation, with more free time on my hands before I started graduate coursework, I ran my first double-digit run. I kept running through graduate school, oftentimes at 6 AM on the treadmill to get in my miles before a busy day of classes and assistantship work.
In my last semester of graduate school, I decided to run a 10K race – my first real race. It was challenging and absolutely fun. I ran faster than I anticipated – 50 minutes – and I was hooked on racing. It provided a competitive challenge now that I was shifting out of academia and something about pushing my body to its limits brought me joy.
Shortly after that, I signed up for my first half marathon, started this blog, and began to seriously consider coaching. Health and well-being was why I started running, but now I run for the competition, the opportunity to see tangible improvements in an area, the joy of running, the fresh air, the stress outlet, and the community.
I still deal with the same health issues; running did not cure my irregular periods or hormonal problems. But running has granted me more than a healthier lifestyle; it’s taught me how to handle health problems. Running taught me I could do hard things and that I always had more resolve to persevere. Last year, when I finally underwent laparoscopic surgery to treat chronic pelvic pain, running a marathon shortly before provided me with a channel for my anxiety and a reminder that I was capable of doing scary hard things.
That’s my story – now let’s hear the stories from the other women in the Just Run round up!
Do you want to start running? Check out these tips for new runners from a previous Just Run round up!
How did you start running?
What has kept you running over the years?