My Running History
Once when I was asked the question, "What is an item you would not like to live without?", my response was simple… "my running shoes". I think there are two, very different sides to running: you either hate it, or you love it. I have met few people who claim to be in between. Obviously, I love running. I will admit it… I am actually addicted.
My relationship with running started at a rather young age. I was always an active kid, but middle school was a particularly active time in my life: I joined the local swim club in 6th grade, as well as started taking classes at a new dance studio that had opened up down the street from my house. I was also still tumbling and braving the bars and beam at gymnastics twice a week. Ironically, during probably the most physically active time in my life, I developed some unfortunate, and not particularly healthy, eating habits. I can’t recollect where the desire to start running originated, but somehow I found myself going to the university’s track with my mom on the weekends and running about 2 miles (in addition to our walk to and from the campus). Although I was swimming 8-10 hours a week, tumbling for 5, and dancing more and more, I still had energy to expel at the track. Don’t you wish you had the energy of a 12-year-old?
After graduating 8th grade, I decided to end my gymnastics career of 6 years. I had rediscovered my passion for dancing during middle school (I actually started tappin’ in 1st grade), and wanted to make more room in my schedule for dance. I continued to swim competitively, practicing 4 to 5 times a week, with the occasional 5:30am practice before school…but nevertheless found time for a jog every once in a while. My friend Jane joined our high school’s cross country team freshman year, and when we both weren’t at one practice or another, we enjoyed running around town together. I was constantly getting pressured from friends and the school running coach (my dad’s old friend) to join the team. My response was the same every time someone tried to persuade me, "I just don’t have the time". It was true. I was now a member of the Dance Team at the studio and had planned to compete for the high school’s swim team in the spring in addition to club meets. This is what I did. However, when the end of sophomore year rolled around, and the end of another swimming season, I did not want to swim another lap. That summer I quit cold turkey.
So…junior year I "gave in" and joined the cross country team in the fall – probably one of my smartest decisions yet. I think I have forgotten to mention that I am not the most competitive person you will meet, despite my athletic history. I loved every minute of being a part of the cross country team. Sure the races were exciting, but what I remember most are the long runs in the Redwood forest, the dreaded hill repeats, the sunny runs at The Marsh, the long van rides to state championships, and the endless talks about FOOD! If you are a runner, you know it’s a fact that all running conversations revolve around food : )
During the off-seasons, I ran with my dance teacher and participated in local runs to keep my running craving satisfied. The distance increased, and so did my addiction…
When I got to college, I was a bit worried about running. Who would I run with? Where would I run? After all, I had just left everything I had known, and was starting from scratch. Joining the cross country team was not an option. Did I mention I am not competitive? To my pleasant surprise I saw posters around campus the first week of classes about a running club. I attended the first club meeting and participated with the Walk Jog Run Club for the two years I was at Sonoma State University. The club was exactly what I needed: dedicated runners that enjoyed running with each other, not against each other. The club introduced me to some great people, including my future running buddy and one of my best friends, Courtney. I was relieved that I had a friend to run with. Courtney and I quickly became glued at the hip, running and discovering our new habitat together.
I participated in several races with the club, including several in beautiful San Francisco. At the end of my freshman year, we made the long trek to Eugene, Oregon for their annual marathon. I don’t think it could have been a better experience for our first (half) marathon. The training definitely paid off as Courtney and I finished hand in hand.
I have recently transferred to a different university and am unfortunately no longer a part of the running club. I miss my favorite running partner and friend – "long-distance running relationships" are difficult (no pun intended) – but we have no doubt that running will keep us connected no matter how many miles we are apart.
As my life continues to change, running is always there for me when I need it most. Putting one foot in front of the other is sometimes the most satisfying part of my day. Running is now a huge part of who I am. No matter what obstacle life decides to throw at me, running allows me to push through. I run to heal. I run to laugh. I run to breathe. I run in the sun. I run in the rain. I run for health. I run for me.
“Running is a mental exercise with physical benefits.”