During my adolescence, I was a top-level athlete. I trained almost every day of the week to be able to compete to the best of my ability. Soccer was the light of my life, but training at such a high-intensity for such a long period of time stole the love I once had for the sport.
Up until I graduated high school, I was always training for soccer, no matter what. In the beginning, I really enjoyed it. But, the pressure and toxicity of high-level sports can take a toll on your mental health, especially when you’re constantly being told what you should and should not be doing, eating, saying, and posting.
Once I graduated high school, I knew I was done with soccer. I no longer had the same passion that I once had for the game. When this happened, I completely fell out of working out and staying fit. I had been forced to train at such a high intensity for such a long time that my body was tired and needed a break, a break that coincidentally lasted almost two years.
When I got to college, I was introduced to freedoms that I wasn’t accustomed to in high school. I could eat, do, and act however I wanted. I was no longer working out, and I was OK with that.
When COVID-19 started to get bad in March, I decided to return home to New Jersey to be with my family. For the most part, I wasn’t allowed to leave my house for two months. I had more free time than I knew what to do with. It was at this time that I started to feel depressed and anxious like I did in high school. I was falling back into the hole that I tried so hard to get out of. I was wasting my days, and not doing anything productive. Each day was the exact same, and I desperately needed to change that.
About a week into quarantine, I knew I had to come up with a hobby, or else I would go insane, staring at my bedroom walls and computer screen all day. After struggling to come up with an idea, my parents suggested that I started working out again to clear my head. I audibly laughed out loud when they said this. I hadn’t thought about working out in so long that I was worried I forgot how to run.
Because of the boredom, I decided to actually give working out a fair shot. During my first workout, I tried to run as much as I could, and as you can probably guess, it did not go well. I was exhausted by the end, but, in a weird way, it felt good to sweat and clear my cluttered mind.
The next morning when I woke up, I actually wanted to run. It was astonishing. I began to crave working out and the feeling of accomplishment once I finished a workout.
After that first run, I became obsessed. Running was the only time I was able to leave my house, and I enjoyed the time alone with my thoughts. I went from hardly being able to run a mile, to be able to run six-plus miles every single day without even thinking about it.
I ran almost every day I was in New Jersey from March until August. I don’t think the girl who left Boulder in March exists anymore, in the best way possible. I feel happier and am in significantly better shape. I feel more confident, and it shows in my demeanor and attitude. I started to really think about the things I was putting into my body, how I was treating it, and became more mindful.
Running helped pull me out of the deep hole I was in during the beginning of quarantine. My mentality about running and working out has changed dramatically. I no longer associate working out with something I have to do, like when I played soccer. Rather, working out is something I want to do for myself and will continue to do.