Why It’s Okay You Skipped Your Morning Run

By Audrey Martin

You’re in high school: From 7 am-3 pm, you have class. Maybe you have a student government meeting after, or maybe lacrosse practice. You come home. Perhaps take a shower. Have a home-cooked meal. Homework. Bed. Repeat daily.

Smash-cut to college: You’re shoving your coffee-stained laptop into your overpriced Fjallraven Kanken backpack. You’re wasting dining points grabbing lattes after class because your friends from Philosophy 101 asked you to hang. Cramming for exams. Punching out 5-page essays at 3 am. Power nap. Party. Repeat… never.

It’s no secret that your life gets uprooted after coming to college. Sleep habits change. Diets change. Friends change. In all likeliness, you change. And along with change comes compromise. The workouts you used to be able to easily pencil in get traded in for club meetings, social occasions, and, perhaps most often, sleep.

And that's okay. 

In high school, I prided myself on working out like one of those Instagram fitness models. Sixty-minute runs, HIIT workouts, CrossFit, and strength training took up significant portions of my days, and I loved every second of it.

I loved the way working out made me feel. I adored feeling strong, powerful, and beautiful. (And the abs that revealed themselves every so often didn’t hurt either.)

When I came to college a few weeks ago, I fully expected to keep up my intense exercise regimen despite the aforementioned hustle of first semester. I let my workouts slide for a few days, but it wasn’t long before I started setting early-morning alarms to go on runs.

For the first week, I was golden. Maybe I wasn’t doing the doubled-over-definitely-going-to-puke-right-now CrossFit workouts that I loved so much in high school, but I was still sweating for a good hour a day.

And then, suddenly, I stayed up way too late with friends, and slept through my 7 am alarm. I realized I had a paper to finish, and I missed my sunset spin class. A friend asked to grab breakfast, and I ate waffles instead of doing push-ups.

A few days went by. Then a week. Then two. My first semester was going great. I was making friends, joining great clubs and organizations and doing well in my classes — yet I felt guilty. I felt like I was doing myself a disservice for not running before my 9 am class. Or cycling after my 10 pm meeting.

The worst part was looking out my window and seeing other students with their spandex and gym bags, making it look like working out in college was a breeze. (Seriously, how does one make the time for a run at 2:30 pm on a Tuesday? Tell me your ways, mysterious lady with the funky leggings!)

And let me just say now, I didn’t magically overcome my desire to workout, or somehow unlock some golden hour in the day where I could fulfill all of my pilates desires. I still don’t work out like I used to.

The difference is, I’ve made peace with it.

One of the worst things you can do as a first-semester student is be too hard on yourself. I was wasting so much mental energy beating myself up for not doing something that, in the long run (no pun intended) likely would have been worse for my overall health.

Your body knows what it needs, and it is not shy about telling you. If your alarm goes off in the morning and you can barely muster the energy to silence it before you wake up your roommate, you’re not ‘cheating’ yourself if you trade a morning run in for a few more hours of shut-eye.

The same goes for prioritizing social gatherings (i.e. dinner with friends, an interest meeting for that club you’ve been wanting to join, a school event you heard was great) over exercise. It might feel like the ‘right’ thing to do is slave over a stationary bike, but in the end, you might be robbing yourself of the opportunity to make some great memories over Pinkberry.

I like to think to myself: What am I going to remember more in a decade? An hour of cardio, or an impromptu-breakfast outing with the girls from my English lecture?

Don’t let anyone (including yourself) scare you into working out by spitting at you that vacuous phrase, “freshman fifteen.” You’re moving to a brand new place surrounded by brand new people taking on brand new classes; it’s okay to chow down on some dining-hall soft serve when you want to!

I still value exercise, and feeling strong and in shape is still a big part of my identity. When I can, or, more accurately, when I want to, I set my alarm an hour early and I run to a Florence and the Machine album as I watch the sunrise.

 

And when I don’t want to, I don’t. With no shame, no regret, and no guilt for taking care of myself — inside and out.

 

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