I did a semester of Track and Field my freshman year of high school because I thought I’d be fast like I was when the neighborhood boys chased me during a high stakes game of Night Tag, but it turned out I wasn’t a sprinter when someone wasn’t chasing me. In college, I exercised daily on the elliptical, but I only cared about the calories I was burning. So whenever I tried running outside, I got winded. Although I thought I was in shape, I still didn’t have the endurance to finish a mile without huffing and puffing. I remember having to repeat Dory’s mantra “Just keep swimming” over and over in my head to get through a run.
Fast forward to January of this year. I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands and a lot less money coming in. My only writing class was cancelled, and I was heartbroken that I wouldn’t be teaching. But then I realized something—I had all this free time now to finally get myself back in shape. I had been making excuses for years that I didn’t have enough room in my schedule for exercise, but now I had all this time staring me in the face. Since I didn’t have the extra money to shell out for a personal trainer or a gym membership, I decided to take advantage of the dusty treadmill in the basement of my apartment complex.
So this past winter, I was determined to become a runner.
It wasn’t easy at first. Okay, that’s an understatement. It was really freaking hard. I couldn’t go very far or fast for the first month. I learned quickly that I didn’t have any endurance, but I trained myself 4-5 days a week. As weeks turned into months, the maintenance guys thought I was training for the Boston Marathon because they saw me down in the basement almost every day. I might not have been training for the marathon, but I was training for my first 5k at the end of June. As my mom would say, “that’s nothing to sneeze at, Becca.”
Once the snow had finally melted, I ventured outdoors, and I had to train my body all over again for running outside. My lungs burned and my shins were really sore. Running two miles around Stoneham was so much different than running two miles on the treadmill. I bought myself a new pair New Balance sneakers with hot pink laces, then I started icing my shins with frozen vegetables and stretching for twenty minutes after every run. My leg muscles strengthened and the pains eventually went away, and my breathing also improved. I downloaded the Run Keeper app and saved my usual routes as fun names to keep myself entertained. I have a 2.6 mile “Friendly’s Run” and a 4 mile “Zoo Run” on my phone. My running playlists are full of upbeat Ke$ha and Disney songs.
Back in February, I could only run for five minutes on the treadmill before my heart felt like it would explode. Now seven months later, I’ve already completed two 5k obstacle races, and I have three more races coming up this fall. I will continue signing up for these races because I love working towards something.
Crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with my friend Nicole at Rock and Run Boston on 6/21!
I should mention that I’m not a fast runner. I average between a 9 and 10 minute mile depending on how I feel or how far I’m going. But I’m not trying to be the fastest person in a race, and I’m not training for a full marathon (I do want to work towards running the Disney Princess Half Marathon one of these years though!) I’m doing this only for myself and my well being. Running has become my sanctuary. Whenever I am overwhelmed or angry, I go for a run to clear my head. It astounds me how much my mind is recharged after I’ve finished a 4 mile run.
I’m grateful for running because it also helps me make sounder food choices. The healthier I eat, the better I feel and the farther I run. (Running has also played a huge part in my shedding of forty pounds since the new year, so there’s that too.)
I’m thankful my class was cancelled because I finally gave myself the chance to get in the best shape of my life. I’m grateful that I’m a runner. I don’t have to spend any money to do it. All I need are my running shoes and my Spotify playlist, and I can go anywhere.
Before the ROC Race (Ridiculous Obstacle Course) on 8/2! I’m the one in the rainbow socks.