19 Mar 2019

On Running

Running has given me so much.

I first started running in middle school, when I was a part of the New York Road Runners (NYRR) program from 6th to 8th grade. Back then, I was oblivious to the importance running would have in my life. Through those years, I have found friends among teammates and a sense of accomplishment in races, no matter the result.

One of my favorite memories from freshman year of college was my first run: Megan, Madeline, and I ran to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At the end of the run we took a photo near WaterWorks in front of the tulips, which I look back on fondly. I doubt Megan even realizes this, but by rejuvenating my interest in running and introduced me to yoga she has had a profound impact on my life.

Sophomore year, I began regularly running: gazing at the water and trees along the Schuylkill river was a tranquil escape from my computer, books and stress on campus. Studying abroad in Brazil, my friend Alana and I ran along the coast in Porto da Barra. After plenty of sea salt and sweat had beaded up on our skin, we got Acai bowls and shared the latest news about our weekend adventures.

My junior year of college was extremely challenging. On-campus recruiting, among other stressors, took a toll on my mental health. When I felt like I hit rock bottom, I started a regular meditation and running practice that helped me get back on my feet. In college, running without a team gave me a sense of independence and confidence I was lacking. During this same time, I started training for my first half marathon. I started running half marathons junior year of college and have run about six of them since. I have really enjoyed running but most of all training for these races.

Running is all about the journey and I’m embarking on a new journey to run the NYC marathon. Having the courage to do this has been a gradual journey. Last year, I ran my first full marathon in San Francisco in July and ran my first half marathon abroad in Chiang Mai in December (placing 4th in my age group). I’m super excited to be running the NYC marathon this year in my hometown of NYC and fundraising for NYRR Team for Kids! You can donate here! I will write about my marathon training process and the monthly wellness series I am putting together in the Bay Area. So stayed tuned! :)

While I know running is pretty high impact and not the most “efficient” form of exercise, I have come to love it and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Self- Regard: Running is only a race against myself. When I go on a run I am not competing with anyone, I am only trying to improve a little more everyday. I meet myself where I am, whatever the pace is and however my body feels, but it’s never about anyone else.

  2. Perspective: It gives me a very different way to see the world. Sometimes this means my usual 3 mile runs through the Panhandle in SF which help me appreciate the subtle differences in the trees overtime. Sometimes it means getting to explore a city via it’s running routes, like when I visited Seattle and ran 10 miles through parts I would not have seen otherwise.

  3. Breathing: The biggest focus after making sure I don’t trip is making sure I’m breathing properly, this is very similar to my meditation practice and yoga. To breathe is to know you’re alive.

  4. Endorphins: A good release of endorphins or “runner’s high” is what first got me hooked to running and continues to be a reason that I wake up at 6am to get my run in.

  5. Flow: I call this cruise control and its wonderful. After the initial panting and my body adjusting to the cold or the heat outside, I get into flow and I feel completely absorbed by the movement of my body, the syncing of it to my breath and the environment around me.

  6. Accomplishment: No one can take away a running accomplishment, it’s truly mine and there’s something really special about that.

  7. Mental health: Movement is incredibly important to mental health. There is lots of research here and here about running benefits to our mental health. To me, mental health is probably the biggest reason to run.

  8. Discipline: I am not one for structured and disciplined environments. However, running gives me a loose sense of necessary structure and discipline. Training for a big race has shaped me a lot as a person and has made me realize that I can truly do anything I set my mind to given that I work hard and keep to my goals.

  9. Community: Although I don’t typically run with other people, it is an experience I share with many people. Everyone who runs does it because it gives them something (and it can be very different for everyone) and being able to bond over that with such a big group of people makes the world seem a little more interconnected.

  10. Physical Awareness: Running has made me so much more aware of my body and truly makes me listen to it. I know that if I get injured I will have to stop running and I cannot afford to lose everything that running gives me so. That means I am gentle and more attune to what my body needs.