The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
TW: This article contains mentions of diets.
I was never particularly athletic growing up and even now I’m still not. In elementary school, all the way through high school, I played soccer, ran cross country, played field hockey, softball, and was on my high school swim team. Despite participating in all of these sports I never felt fit and didn’t look fit either.
The workout routines and diets I planned to stick to always fell apart after a week. I realized that what I was doing was not sustainable and I needed to increase my physical activity while incorporating more fruits and vegetables and white meat into my diet. I felt so motivated and finally ready to start my journey after two years of failed fad diets and unsustainable workout regimens. Then, to the world’s shock, the pandemic occurred.
In the middle of my junior year of high school, I was forced into my home and I had no reason to ever leave my room. I started falling into an unhealthy state of mind where I convinced myself that this would all be over soon and once it was then and only then would I really start my healthy living journey. However, it was in the middle of the month of May when I realized the pandemic was not going to end any time soon. It was through this realization in conjunction with an undeniable need to leave my house that I decided to put on a pair of my mom’s old running shoes and run the trails in my hometown. I had walked these paths as a kid and sometimes taken them to get from my house to the library in town, but that was only occasionally. When I walked back up my driveway after a run that was a little over three miles I noticed how good I felt out of breath, sweaty, and my muscles aching. I knew the next day I would go back out and run again because I had never felt so free and refreshed in a long time. Since then I have run at least two miles every day for five hundred days.
After five hundred days, I have noticed three significant changes in my physical and mental health.
The first is I have so much more stamina than I have ever had before. I live on the fourth floor of my residence building and I have noticed that I can climb those four flights of stairs and not feel winded or out of breath. I thought that it was just a fluke until I realized my running helped me to build endurance.
The second thing I noticed from running is I have a set time in the day to think and to be left with my thoughts. I have found it extremely rewarding and beneficial to have a time in the day where I can run and sort through my thoughts. While running I was able to have a conversation with myself and mentally list all of the things stressing me out or list all of the things I am grateful for. Because I would spend anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour running, I had a nice amount of time to think in a quiet environment. Doing this allowed me to get to know myself again. As odd as that may sound, mentally conversing with oneself is a great way to acknowledge your actions and feelings.
Third, my sleep has greatly improved in the time that I have been running. Before the pandemic and even during the beginning, I used to stay up extremely late, and getting up in the morning was the hardest part of my day. I would then come home and nap for three hours and when I woke up I felt even more tired and groggy than I had before napping. My sleep schedule was horrible and sometimes non-existent. When I started running I was going out in the early afternoon but I discovered that going around eight in the morning was the perfect time because it allowed me to wake up at a reasonable time and exercising early in the morning helped to give me energy so I could go the whole day without a nap or feeling sleepy.
Three pairs of running shoes, countless pairs of leggings, more than 1,200 miles, and five hundred days later I look, but most importantly feel better. Five hundred days is a massive commitment. One, I had no idea I would make when I started running on that May day, but it started with getting up every morning in sun, rain, snow, hail, and overcast weather and committing to at least two miles.