Half blinded by sweat, I looked down at my phone. 13.1 miles glowed bright and clear on the running app I use every time I train. My legs were heavy, my heart raced fast, my breathing was shallow, and I was happy. No, I was ecstatic. In the midst of the summer sun blazing down on my sweaty skin, I got chills. I had achieved the very thing I once thought impossible. I just ran a half marathon.
This was not a race. I will run my first half marathon race on July 14th. Today, I reached the height of my training in preparing for the race in July. It’s easy going from here on out. There was nothing easy about my run today, and I am pretty sore now from pushing my body to its limits. However, I feel like I’m on top of the world.
Many have asked me why I decided to train for a half marathon. Mind you, I have never been a runner. I’ve never even ran a 5k race, yet here I am, training for a half. The answer may inspire you, just as I have been inspired in my journey.
I always hated running. Plain and simple. In high school and for most of college, I could not run a mile. I was very active as a dancer, so stamina was not the issue. My problem was that I repeatedly told myself I couldn’t do it. The mind and body are so, so connected, so because my brain said I couldn’t run, my body believed the message.
Throughout college, I battled an eating disorder, anxiety, PTSD, and other things. I began running during my Junior year of college, as it provided a physical release for the debilitating levels of anxiety I faced on a daily basis. For the first time in my life, I told myself I could run. I believed that with practice, I could run a 5k. After a month of training, I ran my first 5k around campus, and my anxiety had dropped to nearly nothing. Running released my anxiety in a healthy way and I felt safe in my body for the first time in years.
I continued to run that summer, and I fell in love. The very thing I once hated became my saving grace. Senior year, I faced my eating disorder once again. By spring, I was frustrated with my inner turmoil and lack of progress in therapy. Once again, I turned to running. This time, however, I needed a goal so big it would consume me. I needed something to take the place of my eating disorder and make me feel alive and strong.
So, I decided to train for a half marathon.
Since the beginning of my training in April, I have learned far more about myself than I ever thought possible. I learned that my mind is even stronger than I gave myself credit for all these years. I learned the power of faith in my body and my character. I discovered that I do not quit very easily. I came to know a deeper self love than I ever dreamed of having and I learned how to feed my body to support the activity that I have become so passionate about. I learned the art of pushing my body and my mind just enough and backing off when I truly need a break.
My advice to anyone going through a difficult time is to think of a goal that terrifies you. Reflect on it, pray about it, and if this goal is healthy for you, chase it fearlessly. Do the very thing you once thought impossible– no matter how big or small it may be. When you push yourself further than you ever dreamed, you will fall in love with the beautiful person you are and find a deeper respect in your heart for yourself and those around you. I can certainly testify to this gift.
Running has saved my life. I don’t mean that at all dramatically. I don’t plan to be some crazy fast marathon runner by any means– I’m just doing this for my own sanity and wellbeing, and I am very happy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to feel loved– by others of course, but also by yourself. Make a new goal and strive to achieve it no matter how scary it may be. Feel the fear, and do it anyway, because one day, it won’t be scary anymore– achieving this goal will be one of the best moments of your life.