Being that I am the only girl in the family between two boys, I have always tried to keep up with them. If the boys did it, I wanted to as well. After years of telling myself that I could not be a runner like them, my desire to be like the boys caught up with me. I bought a pair of running shoes and embarked on a sweaty new journey. A friend who had always been a runner took me for a short run on the lake front path encouraging me to run just a little further. When I got home, red in the cheeks, out of breath and smelling quite like a runner I had never felt a high quite like this. There was a spark in my mind and all of a sudden I realized that I had been lying to myself; I could run. From that first run a little over a year and a half ago, my love affair with running has exploded.
Today I lose myself in running on a regular basis. While I now run much longer distances, the first few miles of my runs feel just like that first run. My mind is racing with my schedule, replaying the day's events, making to-do lists and more. The loudest voice over all this is the voice telling me I can't. Those excuses come back to me and I contemplate turning around and walking home during this time. There is a much smaller voice that strengthens as I continue on my way though. This voice tells me I can and shuts down all the thoughts racing through my mind until it finally squashes that voice telling me I can't. At this point I can focus on what matters: me. I can listen to my body properly and judge my capabilities accurately, making for a safe and healthy run. Best of all, I can enjoy my run.
For me running has become an activity in which I find peace of mind. Most of my day is spent rushing from class to appointments to meetings to home where my homework awaits. Being able to escape the chaos of the day can be difficult for anyone. I have found for me that the clarity from running calms me for the other challenges in life. Whether it is running, yoga, painting, reading or whatever, finding that one thing that allows you to clear your mind of the to-dos will refresh you making the to-dos in the day more manageable.
Beyond being able to find something that helps me bring my mind to peace, running has helped boost my confidence as well. By challenging all the “I can't's” I have been able to find strength and motivation to complete my first 5k and train for my first half marathon. While this upcoming challenge makes me nervous, I know I can rely on the second voice to crush the voice that tells me I can't and come to a place of clarity and peace in order to finish my run.
Katie is a Bachelor level intern from DePaul University who co-leads the Tuesday evening ANAD Support group at The Awakening Center.