You’d probably never in a million years guess this about me, but I used to be a runner. And honestly, I used to be a damn good runner. I made varsity for cross-country and track my freshman year of high school. I was running 5Ks in roughly 25 minutes (okay, not amazing, but I was 14 so still pretty impressive, I think) and I had the best meet time on my team for the 3200M my freshman year track season. Had I stuck to it I would have probably been kicking some serious ass by my senior year.
Unfortunately that is not the way things worked out. Cross-country was the same season as marching band which made for a terrible after school schedule and I did not particularly like any of the girls (or guys, for that matter) on either of the teams. I stuck with it because it was something I enjoyed and- more importantly- was good at. Then my knees joined the conversation. Thanks to some unfortunate genetics my knees had never really approved of my chosen sport, so when I- with the encouragement of my coach- pushed them too hard trying to improve my “last 100M sprint” they decided enough was enough. And that was that. I tried to go back a few years later, but taking so much time off meant I wasn’t good at it anymore, and I have never had much patience for anything that doesn’t come easily for me. Especially when they require spending a lot of time with a group of people who I would never in a million years willingly hang out with.
Fast forward 7 years (whoa) and lately I have really been missing it. I have friends who run marathons and seeing all of their pictures reminds me how much I used to love it. Not so much the running bit, but the post-run high, when despite your legs turning to jelly and your chest screaming as your lungs burn, the feeling of accomplishment washes over you, numbing you to everything else. Damn do I miss that. The feeling of pushing myself ever closer to my breaking point just for the sake of cutting a few seconds off my time, and wearing every new personal record like a gold medal around my neck.
I always joke about the things I used to do competitively that I can now barely do at all- running, swimming- but it is becoming less funny and more frustrating lately. I used to be strong. I used to run 5Ks four or five days a week and would go on 10 mile bike rides when I got too restless. Nowadays I almost keel over if I have to ride my bike to campus, and frankly I’m tired of losing my breath just walking up the library stairs.
The real turning point came last night when I watched this Youtube video about an injured veteran who- after being told he would never walk unassisted again, and gaining a lot of weight as a result- started doing yoga and proceeded to not only lose 140lbs in 10 months, but rebuilt the muscles in his legs enough to not only walk but to run without problem.
I cried. And then I decided it was time to get my shit together.
(I’ve always wanted to find someone to Scott-Pilgrim-ify me so I could make this joke. But this is the best I could do on short notice while left to my own devices)
So today, with my Grace Helbig sweatshirt and a new workout playlist as my only companions and witnesses, I went for a freaking run. I did not go very far or very fast, and according to my Nike running app it lasted all of 12 minutes, but god damn did it feel good. I blasted Demi Lovato’s “Confident” and just went for it, and even though it was not a particularly impressive run, I still got to experience that post-run rush that I have been missing for so long. In fact, I felt so good that I followed it with a short sun salutation yoga session in the grass next to my apartment complex (a short aside: yoga was totally meant to be done outside on cool October days, seriously). I can’t remember the last time I felt as good as I did today, chest burning from the cold and all.
I know better than to think I am suddenly going to start running every day, especially given my schedule, but I am determined to make it a habit to fit a short run, yoga session, or PiYo workout in whenever possible. I want to get back to the take no prisoners version of myself. I want to feel strong and confident and capable again. And today was, quite literally, step one.
P.S. I am starting a WhatsApp fitness support group. If you’re interested in joining DM me on Twitter and I will add you!