Growing up I played softball, volleyball, basketball, I danced, and I was a high-energy kid always running around. I was active. Fitness was ever pushed on me and the need to be active was ever a concern. I was a kid I did things because they were fun. So where did my fitness journey start?
Fast-forward to freshman year of college. I no longer played any sports, I didn’t dance…nothing. I was your typical college freshman. I went out almost every single night, came home to late night munchies, ate ice cream from the dining hall, always had m&ms handy, and I was not thinking about my body. I started to realize some of my clothes didn’t fit how they used to but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.
This went on for the entire first semester of freshman year. I remember one day in particular and it was when I was sitting on my bed eating out of a box of cookie crisp (a cereal I have never in my life eaten) and I finished the whole thing. I justified it to myself because I had a hangover.
This was the start of my breaking point. I started dating someone at the beginning of second semester. I was bored, I was starting to miss my friends and I needed something to do. This relationship was a bad idea from before it ever started and I knew it. This person was toxic in my life, they were toxic to all my relationships and was dangerous. It was easy for me to ignore the situation because I was at school and they weren’t there. I started resenting this person right away and that is when I started running. I ran to avoid the relationship I was in. It was easy to get away and forget everything when I ran. I began working out a few hours a day because it was an escape. I was scared of this person and so I avoided everything. While I was using running as an escape I began to fall in love with what running was doing for me.
The other part of the story is when I decided to pick up “Born To Run”. Once I figured out I could run I wanted more of it. My whole life growing up I told myself I couldn’t run and that it was too hard and too unrealistic. Little did I know I was lying to myself all these years and missing out on the best thing in my life.
“Born To Run” changed my life. I started understanding that we can run, that we are physically made to run and I began to push myself. While I was now adapting this new lifestyle I still told myself I would never run a half-marathon.My body started changing and my mind started changing. I started to research health topics and all the running information that I could. I realized that just because all of this food was available in the dining hall I didn’t need to eat it. I was getting myself on a healthier track. A single moment in my life flipped the switch. I literally woke up one day feeling fat and unhealthy and I said never again do I want to wake up feeling this way. I had a running schedule and a food plan in place.
I had this can-do attitude with a side of can’t (remember I’m never running a half marathon). I got myself out of the toxic relationship and felt my life was going in a much better direction.
The start of sophomore year another switch was flipped. One night I found out a lot of things about my past relationship that put me in way more danger than I ever knew, I was livid. The next morning I couldn’t even think straight and I went for a run…15 miles later I stopped running. First I have to say anger is the absolute greatest fuel for a run and my “can’t” mind disappeared. I just ran the most I have ever done in my life and I felt incredible. That day I decided I was going to run a marathon, but that I would start with running the half in a few months.
After a few months of being focus on running and research health I again let other people dictate the course of my life and. started adopting unhealthy habits. I spent too much time drinking and not enough time focused on my health. It took me some time and some better people in my life to make me realize I wasn’t making the right decisions. I think it is important to talk about the point when I got off course with myself. Everyone goes through these periods when the progress you have made gets interrupted by other things in life, but we can get ourselves back onto the right track. It took me time but I found my way back to my healthier life.
Then I went to Australia. Australia is the best thing that has ever happened in my life (so far). I was stupid happy every single day, I had people around me that added to my life and that I loved, I was living a lifestyle that made me full, and I was working out in the most beautiful place in the world. Living in Australia I adapted to their lifestyle and I ate healthy, worked out outside, stopped doing traditional workouts and spent more time hiking and surfing. I was in love! The second I came home I missed Australia and it took me months to move past the sadness. After months of this I decided it was time to pull myself together and for the first time I completely did it on my own. I relied on myself and to get it together.
Running was a driving force bringing me through this time. While in Australia I decided to register for my first marathon. I did it completely spur of the moment and made a commitment to myself. Through the months of struggle I had one thing pulling me out of bed every single day and that was running. The marathon was miserable but the first thing I did after crossing the finish line was sign up for another marathon, my life was changed! I ran it in 5 painful hours, I almost stopped but I told myself the one thing I had to do was run and finish, I cried, but I finished with tears rolling down my face. I did something I told myself was impossible. I was stronger than I was before the race and I was a better person. That is what has been the jumping off point to where I am today.
A topic that has been on my mind a lot recently on my runs is my relationship with running. I keep coming back to the point that running has always been there for me.
Through every roller coaster of my life from the day I put on my first pair of shoes to running unplugged to reconnect with running, running has always been my saving grace.
Today I focus on always living a healthy lifestyle, not letting people in my life dictate my emotions or my responses, encouraging people to be their healthiest self because I know what this lifestyle has been able to do for me, and always challenging myself. My first marathon was the Naperville Marathon and since I have ran the Illinois, Chicago, Wisconsin and Surf City Marathons. Running marathons has literally changed my life.
Running has never left me, running has never told me I wasn’t good enough, running has dealt with the ups and downs, running is always there.