By: Carly Redrow, Motiv Running
I’m sure we’ve all experienced a little nostalgia when looking back on our college years. It’s the foundation for many stories told well into adulthood that usually begin with something like, “Honestly, I can’t believe I didn’t die doing this.” For most, it’s the first opportunity to learn to manage one’s independence. Choosing which classes to take, whether or not you actually wake up and go to those classes, balancing your social life with your work, making sure you’re eating more than just pizza every day, etc.
Like so many others, I inevitably fell victim to the infamous Freshman Fifteen…and then the Sophomore Sixty…and soon after the Junior Bajillion. As much as I enjoyed late night Taco Bell binges with friends, by senior year those calories caught up to my weight and, eventually, I grew self-conscious of differences I’d started to notice in the mirror. As the old adage goes, “the scale don’t lie,” and it was the scale that compelled me to begin making healthier lifestyle changes.
Newly motivated, I stepped out of my apartment the following morning prepared to complete my first three mile run. I’ve given running the old college try plenty of times in the past, but could never get myself more than two blocks before falling to my knees in a wheezing, sweaty heap on the side of the road. Embarrassed by my lack of athleticism, I’d trudge back to my apartment convinced I was simply incapable of progressing faster than an extremely light jog. Within my small college town there were no shortage of fit, young runners seemingly shoving their expertise in my face while I’d sheepishly pretend the walk from the bus to my classes didn’t sort of feel like a marathon in itself.
But this time would be different, right? This time I was really, really motivated! However, contrary to R. Kelly’s “Bump N Grind,” it was my mind telling me yes and my body telling me no. Only about a mile into my run, I was once again resting on the side of the road, hungrily inhaling puffs of oxygen and realizing motivation was only the first step in accomplishing the goals I’d set for myself.
In the beginning, it felt like my body was putting more effort into resisting the attempts I was making to improve than it was into burning fat and becoming healthier. At first, I could only run every other block and even that much work left my body screaming and sore at the end of each day.
Still, I persisted.
Eventually, I began to overcome obstacles I’m sure every runner had to familiarize with when they started out: shin splints, tightness in my achilles tendons, cramps from dehydration, cramps from overhydration, frustration by a period of stagnant progress and, most of all, self doubt. On days when my motivation felt razor thin, I was lucky to have unsympathetic parents to drag me outside by the heels and make me keep going.
Now three months into training, I can run three miles without stopping, I’ve lost twenty pounds and I look forward to the mental therapy of running. Maybe more than any of that, I now know how to eat healthy (diet is not in my vocabulary…healthy eating is). Do I fall off the wagon from time to time? Heck yes! But now I know how to right the ship and it’s not a skill I’m likely to forget.
I feel confident enough to start setting more challenging goals for myself, such as my first Bosom Buddy Relay at the Perfect 10 in October. The idea that this could lead to my first marathon doesn’t seem so ludicrous anymore. What began as a means for losing weight has quickly evolved into an integral part of my daily routine. Every day that I can run a little bit further serves as a reminder that hard work is always rewarded with positive changes.
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