By this point, it’s probably pretty clear that I love running! But what if I told you that I used to feel the exact opposite!? That’s right…I used to hate running! I have not been a life-long runner or a high school or college athlete or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I didn’t “discover” running until I was 26 years old. So, how did I accidentally discover that I love running?
How I Accidentally Discovered that I Love Running
In college I didn’t really exercise at all (unless walking to class counts). Once I graduated and started working at my first desk job, I quickly realized that I needed to do some sort of exercise. Sitting at a desk all day was brutal and I knew I needed to do some sort of physical activity to feel good and take care of my body.
I tried all kinds of different exercise types, all of which were ok but I didn’t really love them. I did zumba classes for a while, I tried cardio kickboxing, yoga, and spin classes. Sometimes I would go to the gym and just walk on the treadmill. I never dared to run (I thought it was too hard).
A Failed Attempt at Running
Once I gave it a try and pushed myself way too hard right off the bat, quickly got shin splints and gave up. Looking back, I now know that I also had a really bad pair of shoes that contributed to this (I share more about this in my Running Shoe FAQ’s post).
I tried all of these different things and nothing was quite “right” for me, but I kept trying! A few years later, I was still trying various types of exercise and I decided to sign up for a 5k and give running a second chance. I was in an exercise rut about 6 months before my wedding and knew I had to do something to quickly get in better shape. I didn’t feel good mentally or physically.
Looking back, that was a period of high anxiety for me. I also wasn’t exercising at all at the time, I had gained weight, and I had a bad flair-up of eczema which is usually triggered by stress. I didn’t know it at the time, but running was just what I needed!
Doing it the Right Way
This time, I was smarter about how I would begin running. I went to a running shoe store and got fitted for my first pair of “real” running shoes. This made a huge difference! They were so comfortable and supportive. I downloaded an app to help me with training. I did research, started connecting with other runners, and slowly built up my stamina to prepare for the 5k. This time, I didn’t rush into it like I did the first time. I gradually built up my body to be able to run the race.
Once I got past that initial running hurdle and was able to run consistently without getting out of breath or feeling like I was going to die, I started to really enjoy it! My first 5k was really difficult and I remember at the end being so winded and tired, but I quickly had the urge to sign up for another race…I got the running bug and the rest is history!
My Running Transformation
Here is a side-by-side comparison of me before and after running. The left picture was taken the year before my wedding. I wasn’t paying attention to the needs of my body. I was not exercising at all, suffered from severe eczema, and was going through a highly anxious period of my life.
The picture on the right was taken 4 years later. I was running around 4-5 days a week, and had been running consistently for about 3.5 years. I was listening to the needs of my body, eating healthier, drinking less, and much less anxious. Also, my eczema had gone away completely. The funny thing is I think I look more toned and healthy in the “after” picture but I actually weigh about the same in both pictures. I believe this is because muscle weighs more than fat. This is just an example to show that the number on the scale does not matter. Being healthy isn’t about how you look, it’s about how you feel.
So that is how I accidentally discovered that I love running. The reason I wanted to write this post is to share that sometimes things change and even if you’ve struggled with running in the past, it doesn’t mean you’ll always feel that way. Keep trying new things. Keep growing. Even if something seems to be out of your comfort zone (like running initially was for me), give it a try anyway and see how it goes. You never know when your next passion might surprise you!