Every Saturday in the fall for six years, I would wake up at 6 a.m. and get dressed in my cross country uniform while my mom made me eggs that I was way too nervous to eat. Then I would drive to school, hop on a school bus and head to the cross country meet. It was the same every week and I loved it, until I didn’t.
I had coaches that ran us to the ground and made us complete ridiculous workouts just to prove that they were good coaches, and as a team, our times plummeted. By the time my senior year in high school came around, I was tired of running and listening to people who weren’t helping me become better. I enjoyed the team and sometimes enjoyed running, but hated competing. After that season, I thought that my running career was done, and I didn’t think that I would want to run again. Much to my mother’s dismay, I decided that I didn’t want to run in college. I didn’t want people telling me when to run, how far to run or how fast to run. At the time, I thought that if I ever started running again it would be when I wanted and how I wanted.
One day in the summer between high school and college, I got a pair of running shoes that no longer made my feet hurt. I think my mom was still trying to convince me to join the cross country team. Between COVID, weird sleep schedules and not being able to leave campus freshman year, I slowly picked up running again. I didn’t run very far or very fast, but for someone that thought they hated running, this was a huge step. I ran on and off freshman and sophomore year, trying to squeeze in three miles when I could but not making a big habit of it.
This summer my good friend called me and asked if I would run a half marathon with her in October on her birthday. My friend is not a runner in any way. She played basketball and softball in high school and has run exactly one 5k in her entire life, so I wasn’t sure why she chose to spend her 21st birthday running 13.1 miles. Now I actually had to start running again and keep it up consistently. Every excuse I gave myself as to why I couldn’t run or didn’t have time to run went out the window. I quickly changed from being a morning runner to an afternoon runner because of my class schedule, which was a huge adjustment.
I just started running. I didn’t follow a strict training plan for the big day. I knew that I wanted to run 10 or 11 miles beforehand, but that was it. Pretty soon I was cramming in runs whenever I could. At some point during one of my long runs, I fell in love with running. It got to a point where I would look forward to the days when my schedule allowed me to run, even if it was only three miles. I slowly remembered why I began running in the first place. It just took a special pair of shoes, a little nudge from a friend and a book of funny running essays to get me motivated again.
If you are struggling to find motivation to get out and run, I implore you to lace up those shoes, crank up your favorite jams and just run. As someone who never thought they would run again, let alone run 13 miles for fun, I promise you’ll enjoy it more than you think you will.