You’ve probably heard/read this kind of story a thousand times. So have I. But one thing is when other people talk about it, and another (very different) one is when it happens to you. So here we go.
I grew up being the chubby girl of the class. I was by no means athletic or interested in sports. I was the smart one; no one really wanted me in their [insert sport here] team, but they wanted to study with me. It hasn’t change that much, to be honest. I just got used to it.
After high school I became more aware of how out of shape and unhealthy I was, and decided to change that. By then, I had given up on sports, but I could at least give the gym a chance. I got in better shape, but running still seemed as both impossible and unpleasant. I wasn’t really worried about it at that point, anyways.
Time went by, and the idea of running got more pressing. I could still find excuses, though, and didn’t give it a serious try. Things changed when I met Nico. He was (and still is) a runner, and once he told me he would like to share that with me. Me?? Running?? One of my best friends, Dofi, said she would train me. We were travelling to Gainesville, FL, for our REU; we’d be living together for ~3 months, and she loved running. We would run together. Believe it or not, Dofi did it: I was able to run for ~40 min straight. I was so proud of myself!
I went back to Buenos Aires, and without my running buddy things got harder. I didn’t run much… you get the picture.
I moved to MI, and living with Nico made running appealing again. I would do it for a while, get bored, take a long break, get back to it… again, you get the picture.
Last year, something changed. I began running again and this time I could actually enjoy it. I was amazed at that feeling. Somehow I still am. I managed to run my first 5K on Thanksgiving day. I remember the pre-race excitement and the couple of tears I shed when crossing the finish line. I was in heaven after that, I felt so happy I couldn’t believe it. That was the day I began thinking of myself as a runner.
Not too long after that, Nico and I signed up for our first half-marathon. Annie told me about this idea of Travis’ and hers, and we were in without a second thought.
Everything was going great until January, when I injured my left leg (shin splints or something of the sort). For two months, I wasn’t able to run. I was frustrated, nervous about the half-marathon, a bit depressed as well. I kept working out, but I really missed running (something I couldn’t imagine some months ago).
The pain in my leg is almost gone; last week I tried to run for 5 min on the treadmill and almost die, but I was happy I was able to do that. This week, I’ve decided to go for more.
Today is a beautiful day; extremely warm for March in MI, sunny, no snow on the ground. A bit windy, but otherwise perfect for a run. I woke up early, worked on my exam presentation (only one week left!!), and when my stress level was at its peak, decided to go for a run. I picked a 3+ mile route, and told myself I’d see what I could do. If running was a no-go, I would just walk.
I started out fairly slowly, much slower than I used to run before the injury. I kept telling myself “try and see what happens”. I couldn’t believe I was running again! And I kept at it, and ran 3 miles! It was much harder than it used to be, and I was slower than before, but I was doing it. It was an amazing feeling. I’m still smiling about it, and I came back 3 hours ago.
Let me get back to the title of this post. Why do I run? I don’t run to win races or to be faster than other people. I won’t make history running, I won’t join a running team or anything like that. I run because I can; because running has shown me that I can do it if I work hard enough. I’ve proven myself that I can get rid of that “I can’t run” label I used to carry everywhere. And you know what? That alone is enough for me. But there is more! I enjoy running. Even though I get tired and out of breath sometimes, there is a feeling of freedom that comes with running that is amazing. Being such a structured, hard-on-myself kind of person, being able to just feel free and run does wonders on my mood. But as I said before, the most important reason is that I can do it; that is a major accomplishment for me. And let me tell you, it feels great.