10 Very Important Reasons I Run
I started dabbling with running 14 years ago when I was 18. I turn 32 this month and it has literally changed my life and shaped me into the person I am now. When deciding how to tackle writing this post I decided that a list would be the best way to organize my thoughts. Being a teacher, I am great at making lists….
“I owe so much to running. I was a bit of a mess
when I started. Sometimes I still am but I have
developed the tools to be a temporary mess rather
than a permanent one.”
Fitness : All four years of high school, I played tennis and stayed decently active. During college I did manage to avoid the freshman 15 but my weight was fluctuating some and I was craving something to keep me consistently active. At this time, the University of Dayton had a pretty small, mediocre gym and I hated waiting for the elliptical and treadmill. It was brutal. You checked in and had to wait in line for your 30 minutes on a machine. That didn’t do it for me. I started running outside regularly before classes. I could go on my schedule, there was no need to wait for my turn or restrict my run to 30 minutes. Honestly, it was awesome waking up before my roommates and sneaking out of the door. Running offered me some freedom from the monotonous gym. It gave me freedom.
Stress : Running for fitness was only 50% of my motivation. The other 50% was spurred on by pure stress. Without going through all the details, I was struggling sophomore year. I was a bit overwhelmed and I needed a healthy outlet. Running helped me release some of the stress and anxiety I was experiencing and having difficulty balancing. I wasn’t ready to ask for help. I am a special kind of stubborn and it’s mind boggling how difficult a request for help can be to muster up. So I started running regularly and I ran almost every morning. I started running farther, I started to love running for more than just stress relief. It quickly became a thing I loved.
Eating Disorders : Ironically, even while running was a healthy outlet I was slowly spiraling in another direction that was pretty counter productive. I started to struggle with bulimia. Ugh. I cringe admitting that. My instinct is still to deny this some. I didn’t have “full” bulimia. I didn’t binge and purge everyday. The reality is that despite all the excuses I can defend myself with, the simple fact is that I started overeating and then freaking out and forcing everything back up. Logic would always kick in periodically and I would go days, weeks, or sometimes months without throwing up. Running helped me overcome this. Running was more of a priority. On days I threw up it made running more difficult. I would feel horrible and weak. Sometimes, after a bad purge, it would affect my run the next day. Ultimately, I knew what I was doing was wrong and if I was going to have the body I wanted, or feel good I needed to stop. As mentioned above, I was hard headed and it took years to finally reach out for help. I had friends in college who suspected and questioned me, one even went to my mom and I denied everything (thank you by the way). The real break in my habit was feeling comfortable enough to tell my now husband. I was throwing up on and off for nearly 5 years. Running helps me remember my priorities. BUT, and I must stress this, I didn’t stop on my own. I found my person, I found someone to lean on. This is always a struggle. It never really goes away. When I am worried I go on a run and I talk to my husband.
“Nothing felt fair, nothing felt right,
everything felt wrong, So I went for a run,
because I didn’t know what else to do.”
Mind Clutter : Stress and bulimia pretty much segwayed into depression and anxiety. When I felt too much I would run. When I was anxious I ran. Running became my release. Running has helped me get through some major hurdles. It gave me time to myself. It allowed me to process and think through what was going on. Running helped me breathe when I felt like I couldn’t. This past year has been rough. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer in August. It felt like my lungs had collapsed, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was crying every day. I was being told I only had 2 more years with my dad. Nothing felt fair, nothing felt right, everything felt wrong. So I went for a run, because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know how to let me husband help me, he was also grieving. This year has been toughest year I have ever experienced and the most wonderful all at the same time. It’s been very confusing. I have pushed myself and run farther, harder, and faster than I ever have because life has felt so damn scary, I haven’t known what else to do. Now that we are almost a year from my dad’s diagnosis he is beating the odds. He is one hell of a fighter. Through it all I have been running and doing my best to stay strong. Running has helped so much this past year. Any time life throws a wrench in my path, I run.
Family : I swear I run for more positive reasons! Sharing my love for running with my family has been the best gift. My sister asked me to run a half marathon 10 years ago. I probably laughed at her but then I agreed. The rest is history, I loved racing. It was not on my radar at all and suddenly I couldn’t wait to run more marathons. I ran my first full 3 years later. Oh my god, everything hurt. But, my family went to the race with me and my dad was so excited he asked me to qualify for Boston so that we could take the trip together. So again, a family member asked me to do something and I said yes. My husband has been my favorite running partner for 7 ½ years now. He almost ran my first full with me because he wanted to impress me. He’ll deny that, he’ll claim he just wanted to be with me but he was also trying to be impressive. I consider myself very lucky to have my favorite hobby in common with my partner. Since then, my big brother has gotten back into running and he is now active with the same running team I am a part of. My little niece occasionally runs kid runs and I’ve been gifting my 7 year old cousin with race entries this past year because he desperately wanted a medal. He will be running his first 5K this month! I literally started the new year by running a 1 mile race with Elliott. It was way more exciting than staying up late at a party.
“Sharing my love for running with my family
has been the best gift.”
Competition/Confidence : After my first race, I was racking PRs without really trying but once my family got involved I started to research speed training and I had a set goal. Qualify for Boston. This crazy running path I have traveled the last 6 years is all my dad’s fault. I kept getting faster and closer to my goal. I also started loving the smaller races. I started winning and placing for my age group. In the past year I actually came out first overall a few times at some of these smaller races. I was getting more competitive. The beauty of this, is running seems to be the best competitive sport. I pass runners and they tell me good job, runners pass me and I encourage them. I pass runners and make sure to tell them how awesome they are. It’s such a kind community.The best part is that most of the competition is against myself. Through this all my confidence has soared. My running journey began due to difficult times and negative circumstances. It gave me a positive outlet in face of depression, anxiety and bulimia. Since then it has morphed into something amazing. Something I can say with pride. I am a runner. I am a GOOD runner. For someone who can be too high strung, too worried about pleasing, too much of a perfectionist, someone who struggles with a positive body image, that is HUGE.
Adventure : For the most part I ran around my neighborhood and signed up for races close to home. In the past 4 years my husband and I have starting branching out and seeking fun, new places to explore while running. When we got married, my husband, Pat, lived in Florida and we traveled and moved every few months for his work. Living in New Mexico was a game changer for us. We lived right along a mountain range and the urge to explore was powerful. We started venturing into the mountains to trail run. Now, when I go on vacation I find new trails to explore. Since moving back to Ohio we became members of the Ohio River Road Runners Club and have discovered Ohio parks I had never been to despite growing up here. Running has become a vessel to experience more.
Community : The running community is a wonderful one to be a part of. It is inclusive, differentiated, positive, supportive and fun! Moving back to Ohio was a more difficult transition than we expected. Our social scene had changed dramatically in the couple years we were gone. Last summer we found the 5 Rivers Running Team and my big brother introduced us to the Ohio River Road Runners club runs and we joined up as a family. At any point in time I either had one person to run with, a roommate or my husband and suddenly we had a ton of people to train with and attend races with. Suddenly we were running our first team relay and my husband was so excited we signed up for two this upcoming fall. I now have people who will meet me at 6 or 7 AM to get more miles in for a long run while training. I had runners pushing me along after a tough run or finishing with me to keep me going. Running has become a social activity, we run for fun! We are crazy but it is the best kind of crazy. I discovered Brokeman’s Running Company through this group too. I was immediately drawn to the company’s philosophy toward community, mental and physical health, making running more accessible and sustainable. Becoming an ambassador has extended and improved the running community I was a part of.
“Running helped me release some of the
stress and anxiety I was experiencing and having
difficulty balancing. I wasn’t ready to ask for help”
Coaching : Running has helped me through so much I often ponder how different things would be if I would have started earlier. Ironically, I used to refuse to join the track team. I would only run at tennis practice if Coach made us. I claimed I hated to run. Before getting married I discovered Girls on the Run. I was anxious to get involved but I knew I wouldn’t be at my school the next year. GotR is an international running program for elementary and middle school girls. The girls train to run a 5K but all of the practices focus on different mind, body and soul skills. Heck, I use some of the confidence and stress strategies myself. As soon as I signed the contract for my current teaching position I started giving my principal information on GotR. Last year, our first season, I had 1 co-coach and 7 runners. This past school year we had 4 coaches and 29 girls. We got the middle school team going as well. Watching these amazing girls train and grow through the season filled my heart. There were days this season when going to practice after work was the last thing I wanted to do but my co-coaches were amazing and I had dragged them into volunteering. I was committed to these girls and usually, by the end of practice I was energized and gained a more positive outlook on my day. It is an amazing program and I hope it helps these girls avoid or cope with some of the struggles I experienced.
Food : And lastly, who am I kidding. I love to eat. The more I run, the more I can eat. I’m just grateful that I now have a healthy(er) relationship with food and eat to fuel my body. I don’t eat perfectly 100% of the time but I strive to fuel with quality food. It’s always a learning process but it’s one worth the time and effort. It’s a simple and totally indulgent reason to run but it’s a motivator nonetheless.
“Running helps me remember my priorities.”
I owe so much to running. I was a bit of a mess when I started. Sometimes I still am but I have developed the tools to be a temporary mess rather than a permanent one. Running has transformed from a vice to a way to better experience a fulfilled life. Sometimes it’s still a vice. Sometimes I just need to run and process whatever I’m feeling or experiencing. Often now, I run because I just want to be outside, I want to compete, I want to be social, I want to explore and I want to share with others. Running has enriched my life in so many ways. I am a runner. I love to run.
- Lindsey McClean - Brokeman's Ambassador
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