In my mid-twenties I finally joined the gym at the begging of a coworker.
I easily fell in love with weightlifting, but cardio and I went together like oil and water. I stuck to the elliptical because it required far less effort and I bored quickly. I knew I needed to step up my game. I decided to try walking.
I took it slowly, utilizing treadmills and taking leisurely strolls outside when the weather was nice. Before I knew it summertime had come, and again I found myself needing more. So I picked up my pace and began running.
I felt this instant rush of adrenaline, and while running outside I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I was hooked.
Being able to go at my own pace in nearly any setting I chose was new and exciting.
It didn’t take long before running became more than exercise or sport. It became a tool for coping. It became an outlet. It was my alone time. It was my thinking time. It was my happy time.
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It was a way for me to pound through the demons racing through my head. Any problem I was facing or any sort of situation in which I found myself could be worked through step-by-step with one foot in front of the other.
The great thing I realized when starting out is it wasn’t all about speed. Running isn’t only a competitive sport.
Picking up the pace while hammering through a tough decision or overwhelming emotion added to the release I felt. Once I had run my heart, and breath, out, I was able to throw up my hands in victory as if I had just crossed a finish line. I felt like I had broken through a wall. Running brought me one step closer to clarity.
I had found a way to utilize running as a means of self-help.
If there had been an argument in my house, if I was upset about my job, if someone bailed on me, I laced up, and I ran. Over time it became second nature to me. Not only did I want to run because I enjoyed it, my emotional wellbeing had started to rely on it.
Instinctively, I turned to running instead of self-destructive behavior because I knew the rewarding feeling after a run far outweighed drowning my sorrows in any form of self-harm. I could go home wobbly legged, out of breath, and with a clear mind, ready to face whatever lay in front of me.
After a few years and some intermittent time off, running is still my go-to therapy.
It doesn’t matter how far or how fast I go, how frequently I do it, or even where. All that matters is that I get back out there and let the pavement guide me through the grooves and bumps in my life.
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