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Breathe it in, run it out

I didn’t discover running until after college really. I used to run for cheerleading as we ran through campus cheering our hearts out, but now that I think of it, we were just annoying. I was huffing and puffing, had way bigger boobs, ate Ramen noodles and drank pineapple juice and Malibu frequently. But as you can see, my mindset just wasn’t there. I had other priorities while at the same time letting my mind drown in mindless activities so I didn’t have to hear my demons- you’re not beautiful, you’re not worthy, she’s better than you. I kept feeling like I was missing that one thing- the endorphins. It’s not easy- starting something new, but I swear you are worth this feeling. My feeling is running and it has saved my life. I’m not trying to sell running, but I am trying to sell you the thing that makes you realize you are alive. The thing that reminds you that you can do hard things. The thing that pushes you to keep going- the thing that isn’t actually tangible. The thing that you have complete control over. The thing that reminds you that you can return to feeling brilliant for your body and your mind.

I don’t want to specifically talk about the running part, but I am talking about that “thing” that gives you life and leaks out those endorphins- I like to call it breathing in the good, running out the bad. PS- happy chemicals that you get from exercise include: dopamine (the thing that keeps us engaged and improves blood flow), endorphins (the high feeling that is proven to relieve stress and pain- you know the same thing that opioids give off), oxytocin (that eutrophic feeling after having a baby or nursing also associated with love and empathy), and serotonin (the actual happy drug that impacts the whole body and nervous system). I mean why even go on meds? Just kidding, I am all for meds, but it just wasn’t cutting it for me- celexa, lexapro, atenelol, clonapin, Xanax…I needed more.

The things that might leak out those endorphins for you could be yoga, another workout, sweating, CrossFit- anything that involves moving your body in the moderately active state that makes you sweat. Point- do things that move your body and do things that might seem uncomfortable.

When shit gets tough, you only get stronger by facing it, and that’s what running has done for me in every single aspect. It’s emotional, rewarding, and relieving at the same time. This type of thing done once will change your day, but this type of thing on a regular basis will change your life. The key is consistency. To me, running is a metaphor for LIFE. Stay with me.

Today, I run for me. It’s an outlet from the challenges life throws at me. I push my limits. This is the place where I can beat the person I was yesterday and see how strong I really am. It is my outlet. It helps me relieve stress and feel like myself again. Moving my body is for me and only me, and hardly has anything to do with how I look. I used to wonder why people would torture themselves by running or running long distances. When you can do those hard things and you feel the effects of exercise, I promise you will understand. Again, I am not trying to convince you to become a runner, but I am trying to convince you to understand more what your mind and body can accomplish and push through. Don’t waste it away. We are capable of hard things and our bodies and our minds are designed to do just that. The glow of self growth is one of the most magnetic things a human can wear.

A little thing about me- I discovered running after many trials of anxiety medication and gaining almost 15 lbs of depression after college. I won’t repeat myself from my other blogs, but God I lost myself so much. I started to run SLOW- really slow. I got shin splints and started to hate running. I felt like I sucked at yet another thing, but that after feeling was everything. I signed up for my first half marathon and ran about a 10 minute pace. I loved how I felt and how the training gave me a sense of purpose. I loved training in cold, soaking wet, windy, and snowy weather. I loved myself for not giving up and keeping a goal. I loved my body for keeping up. It wasn’t a marathon and it wasn’t a great pace, but I was addicted after my first half marathon. I have officially run 10 half marathons and my PR (personal record) is a 7:14 pace, placing 3rd in the female division in one of them. I placed first in my age group for a 5K with a PR of 6:42. I run for me. I don’t compare myself to anyone. And in my life, that’s what I feel like I always do- we compare ourselves to everyone- social media, people who look like they have the “perfect” life. When I run, I do this for ME. It’s the only thing I feel like I can control. This is when I channel the most determined, fierce, and beautiful version of ME.

Whenever I run, this is what I hear: Whatever it is that is holding you back from the unknown, dismiss it now. You can find comfort in the things that are easy and that’s what most of us do. But to discover what genuinely makes you tingle with discomfort means you’re stepping into the unknown and preparing for change. Some days I feel overwhelmed and exhausted and like I have nothing else to give. You run to get tougher, to become resilient to discomfort that mimics life, and to grow.

When I run long distances (to some it’s not so long and to some it’s way too long), I spend ALL this time alone with my thoughts. Is it over? When am I done? What is my pace? Will I beat my PR? My ass is sore. I can do this. I got this. Keep going. Then all the positive thoughts start flowing- after all the mental games of course. But all of those alone thoughts? They sometimes hinder me and make me want to give up. But in fact, those are the ones that make us GROW. Those are the ones you know you are the only one conducting in this orchestra called LIFE.

I don’t run or train for perfection. I run and train for strength and resilience. I run for that feeling of “high.” The feeling of “I did this. My body did this.” And if I can do this, I can do anything. I don’t care if it’s 3 miles or 15 miles, I know I can do anything I put my mind to because I can do hard things.

Like you, I feel overwhelmed. I feel sad. I feel tired. I sometimes want to sit on my couch and eat all the things and cry. I feel like I lose myself every so often and running reels me back in. I feel supported. I feel grateful. I am especially grateful that I never gave up running because it felt hard. I am grateful that I have passions that drive me to move. I am grateful that I have a body that allows me to move. I feel happy. I feel loved. Please remember there is always light. Running may not be your light. Exercise may not be your light. You may not have found your light(s) yet, but I want you to remember that YOU are also the light. You have the confidence to sparkle and show up for yourself. When we invest in ourselves it is a direct reflection of how we treat others and how we behave. And for me, showing up for myself is scheduling my runs, following specific running plans, signing up for half marathons, setting pace goals, varying my running speeds, finding running idols, etc. For you, it might be putting yourself first, scheduling YOU time, communicating more to loved ones what you need, starting something that you are scared of, but so excited to try. Endorphins, adrenaline, love- they are all real.

The point of this blog isn’t to tell you to start running, but to try things out of our comfort zone. Try things that challenge you and see where it takes you. I promise you will THRIVE. Show up for yourself and know that you can do hard things. Here are a few inspiring quotes that I love:

This quote has resonated with me the most:

“Never in my life, before running, did I ever push hard after something that did not rank high on the list of things that come easily for me. I have always aspired to and excelled at things I was already good at. This probably stems from fear, pride, laziness, or some perfection compulsion. But running isn’t like that for me. It’s hard for me. I struggle. I suffer. I get discouraged. I get mad. I celebrate, sometimes. I love it anyway. I just love it differently. I love it the way you love a rivalrous sibling, a deep-tissue massage, a session with your therapist, childbirth, or someone you still love after a big fight. It doesn’t always feel good in the moment, but ultimately you are a better person for it.” -Kristin Armstrong

“If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.” -Becs Gentry, my running idol

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines but for those who endurance final victory comes.” -Buddha

“Obstacles are opportunities. If at first you don’t succeed in surpassing them try again. Often times, all it takes is a reset of your mind and different mental approach to conquer what you need.”

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