A lot of people ask me how I became a runner. They probably ask because they know I used to hate running.
It’s true – I used to hate running.
I think it was because it was often used as punishment during my sports team practices. When a game didn’t go well, the next practice usually involved running. Sprints, laps, you name it. And let’s be honest, those cross country kids were just crazy. I huffed and puffed my way through a mile – why on earth would they run 3 miles consistently for fun?!
Yet I secretly was intrigued by those who could just run and run.
Many people don’t know that 1.5 years after Brent and I got married, I ran my first 5K. It was a small, local race. I took my vehicle on the road and mapped out a 3 mile loop. I worked my way up to 3 miles and ran that race. Well, most of it. I don’t even remember what time I finished in – maybe 35 minutes? All I remember is that I ran up a huge hill and passed a few guys in the process. Yep, that was my highlight!
After that race, I tried to run more. My body just didn’t want to go past 3 miles. Or maybe it was my mind interfering. All I know is that it was a chore that I didn’t enjoy.
Then I began a new job. (If any of you have been or are teachers – you know how insane that first year is!) Although I stayed active, running was the furthest thing from my mind. I was consumed by lesson plans, getting the classroom organized, grading papers and who knows what else.
The next year, the stress began to form. And the following year, the stress piled on extremely high. I was having a lot of health issues. I was grouchy all the time. I was exhausted. And did I mention I was in the midst of getting my Masters Degree? I desperately needed a way to relieve my stress.
I had been advised by many people to start running to relieve stress. I didn’t believe them because I had never found that runner’s high. They encouraged me to give it a try. To not worry about the miles. To just run.
I knew that I would need something to keep me going those first few months, so I signed up for a 10K. I figured that was the little extra boost I needed. And you know what? It worked.
I started with run/walk intervals, and slowly started to increase my mileage. It was in the winter, so I ran on the treadmills at the gym. When the weather started to get nicer, I started running outside. I remember my elation the first time I went 4 miles. Then 5 miles. Then 6 miles. I was actually beginning to enjoy running!
Did it relieve my stress? Somewhat. (I think the stressors were so large at my job, that nothing would help until either issues were resolved, or I left the position.) Running did leave me feeling better afterward. I wasn’t thinking about the stress, I was just enjoying the moment. And I even felt that runner’s high.
When people ask my why I run, I tell them I run because I love it. However, there is a much larger story involved. It has, and always will be, a form of stress relief. It is time where I can unwind from the stressors of the day, and just enjoy God’s beauty.
Yes, the races are fun. Yes, the medals are fantastic. However I would still run if there weren’t races involved. Running is for me. I can run as fast or slow as I want. I can run anywhere. I can let the stress out. It is my time, not anyone else’s.
And that’s why I am a runner.