For many of the years of my young adulthood, I lived by the policy that if I could comfortably perform everyday life activities, I was sufficiently fit. I justified the lack of exercise included in my lifestyle by saying I was too busy, or that I was too tired on a regular basis.
Flash forward to my sophomore year of college: while studying abroad, I was sitting in Spain, munching on a Spanish pasty, when I finally decided to make a change. Feeling up for a new challenge, I dove into the depths of Pinterest to find myself a marathon training plan, told my friends back home that I was going to run a marathon in the spring (so they could hold me accountable), and went on my first run.
I remember the first few weeks of training feeling mildly brutal. Although I was only running two to three miles five times per week, I woke up every morning incredibly sore. However, when I reached my fourth week of marathon training, I finally fell madly in love with my workouts. I started to feel stronger and more bold as I began upping my mileage, allowing my legs to carry me through the town I was studying in, and through the Spanish countryside nearby.
By the time I was back in the United States in December (after three months of training), I was running about seventeen miles for my weekly long run, and had never felt healthier. I looked forward to my daily workouts for the most part, and when I lacked motivation, my friends would cheer me on and convince me to lace up my shoes and hit the trail.
Of course, while I genuinely loved my running sessions, my workouts were not always joyous experiences. There were definitely painful moments throughout my entire training process. As an asthmatic, I had several close calls that required my inhaler, and as a new runner, I had aches and pains along the way, while my body was adjusting to climbing hills and covering massive distances at running pace. From the challenging moments, I learned the power of a cross training session (such as biking) on the day after a long run, the benefits of stretching to avoid injury, and the necessity of good hydration in my everyday life (especially during a long run)!
Since last February, when I successfully completed the marathon that I had trained so hard for, running has continued to bring me peace, strength, and relaxation on a daily basis. The lessons I learned from my long and hard runs are what continue to fuel my training and everyday life today, making me more patient, dedicated, and determined.
If you have ever considered running long distance, or even if you have no interest in doing so, I recommend that you look into a physical activity that brings you joy and allows you to see the world around you in a new light. I guarantee that whatever workout that you choose to love will change your life for the better, just as marathon running did for me.