By: LIERIN EHMKE
Edited by: ERINN BOON
My dear Running,
before I met you, I was impatient, self-conscious and easily defeated. You have always managed to make my heart beat faster and cause me to break out in a sweat every time we’re together. I can’t say that our relationship has been the most stable; we’ve been about as on-again, off-again as it gets. You’ve made me feel more frustrated, self-conscious and euphoric than anything else. I remember the start of our relationship. It was grade school and I began to despise your very existence knowing we had to do a timed mile run for gym class. From that day forward you always came in and out of my life because I wanted to prove to the world that I could handle something like you in my life.
Albeit an injury, boredom or just not wanting any exercise in my life, you were never a constant. But that all changed last November: My ACL reconstructive surgery caused me to be temporarily immobile. I remember sitting on my living room couch thinking of how I had taken for granted the legs that I had despised for all these years. How could I be so insecure of them if they were able to carry me to wherever I desired? I promised myself that I’d never take them, or you, for granted again, and once I was able to start running, I’d never stop.
After I had graduated from crutches, our relationship had rekindled. We started out slow, I didn’t want to get sick of you, but the summer was when everything changed. I got up early in the morning so we could be together. I learned to deal with the pain, I even forgot about it sometimes. Something inside made me realize the beauty in the routes I would take. I refused to stop. My confidence grew, my waistline shrank, and how I viewed you and exercise changed forever.
You’ve taught me something that no one else has. You taught me how to deal with the uncomfortable. There are things in life that everyone has to deal with, whether it’s school and studying, working late hours or paying the bills, and they may not be fun, but they have to get done. And anyone who has set goals or has wanted to achieve a dream knows that the path to get there isn’t the easiest. You go up hills, hit roadblocks, you plateau. But what you have taught me is that no matter what obstacle I encounter, no matter how uncomfortable I get, pushing through and persevering is the only way to get through a situation with satisfaction. You’ve made me mentally strong. In grade school I may have hated you, but because I never gave up on you, I feel like I’m able to conquer anything.
And I’m not the only one. The mental benefits of running are just as abundant as the physical benefits. Runaddicts.net states that the mental benefits of running include a sense of freedom, sharpened focus and depression prevention due to the release of beta endorphins. So conquering your daily run physically helps you conquer your day.
Women’s Health reported that running is three times more affective at reducing anxiety than staying stationary. Many health experts even help treat clinical depression and drug addiction through running and exercise. Not to mention it’s one of the best workouts you can do. In a study by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center, the treadmill torched more calories than the rower, stair climber, stationary bike and cross-country ski machine.
Sara Young, a sophomore at Indiana University, studying International Studies and Communications, began running over the summer when she and her family vacationed in Croatia. She and her dad would run to different sights each day. Young recollects the level of difficulty, but thanks to motivation from her dad and herself, she was able to conquer running and finish the Rock ‘N Roll Half-Marathon in Chicago.
“I definitely feel more confident in things and doing something outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “The harder the run, the better you feel. And it’s so gratifying, but doesn’t feel like it at the time.” Young states that she feels like she can accomplish anything, and her statement continues to hold true; she is already set to compete in the Chicago Marathon this October.
So Running, things can only go up from here. I’m not letting you go anytime soon, so I hope you’re OK with this being a long-term thing.