I have been a runner for about three years now but I would never dare to call myself a good runner. Perhaps an avid one? (As defined by my perseverance in bad weather). In light of finishing my first ever 10K and since running is such a huge part of my life, I wanted to share my story of how running became so important to me.
The beginning of this story is the same as any other beginning, via the end of something else (in this case, a relationship). It was a difficult time: I was hurting emotionally and I could only pick myself up through exercise. I suppose there are other ways to do that but, thankfully, I picked out the healthiest (I would have to save those unconventional ways for the next hard break-up - after all, it's never too late to try weed for the first time, even if you're 75!).
All of that sounded wonderful until I realized I was unable to run a mile without feeling like I am about to drop dead from a heart attack (at the astonishing rate of about 13 minutes per mile nonetheless!). That was terrifying. I was merely 27 years old yet my heart felt like it could not keep up with me.
So I started slowly and patiently, not even knowing whether running was the answer. I would go to Houston's Memorial Park (which has a convenient 3-mile running trail) and try to run but find the need to walk half of the trace and sometimes more. At the time, the goal of being able to run all 3 miles without walking seemed like a huge stretch.
I clearly remember seeing these toned runners pass me and thinking I will never get there mostly because running was never my thing (after all, during my 10+ years of tennis training, I was the only player to NEVER do the running drills of our practice). But I will give credit where credit is due - I got lucky. My next relationship helped me fall in love with running. My significant other at the time had the patience to run with me, and as I was falling for him, I fell for running as well.
Even though that relationship didn't last forever, I became a fan of running for life. Because of my stubbornness and sheer luck in relationships (one to cause the start, and the other to reinforce the endurance), I was able to endorse a sport that ironically, not only healed my heart physically (hello, resting pulse of 64!) but also emotionally.
Since I began running, I have had the chance to run in every location I have traveled to (the hillside of Norway's Kristiansand, the stunning lakeside of Norway's Stavanger, the foggy streets of Beijing, the challenging trail of Central Park in NYC, the sunny Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the California cool streets of LA and the beaches of Roatan, Honduras). And those memories are some of my most cherished life memories thus far.
So if I could give a piece of advice to my 27-year-old self in doubt, it would be - it will all make sense someday, just keep doing what you're doing. If I could give advice to anyone wondering whether they should start running, I would tell them: start, do it, and be patient: time will reward you. I would never dare to call myself a good runner (my time today was 56:38 - not quite world-champ worthy) yet I could not be prouder to say that today I finished a 10K without a break or walking. And that seemed like a stretch not more than 3 months ago.
Patience and perseverance pay off. Eventually :).