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How Rediscovering Running Has Changed My Life

The time is 12:50 p.m.

Around this time, I get home from class, backpack slung over my shoulder. I lazily type in the code of my front door. Usually what comes next is sitting on the couch to watch TV and finish homework for hours until I rush to shower and head to bed around midnight. This was what my life looked like for most of college. But not anymore.

Starting this semester, I had set a goal to run two miles every day for the months of March and April. It’s a part of a fundraiser for an organization I am involved with, but the benefits go beyond just raising money.

Throughout middle and high school, I was on a year-round swim team. I practiced every day — sometimes twice-a-day. When I graduated high school, I had become very anti-workout. After swimming constantly for 10 years, I was ready to have fun and let loose in college. However, the Freshman 15 is so real. My first year away from home, I struggled to find a schedule. No one really tells you that just as you start getting used to your schedule, the semester is almost over. You get used to classes and maybe a work schedule, but then it’s Thanksgiving or spring break. Then by the time you get back, it’s time to start studying for exams and finals, so your days tend to be spent at the Library.

I fought the great internal thought of weighing the pros and cons of taking a nap or going to the gym — and naps almost always won. In complete honesty, I had started to come to terms that I just wasn’t a workout kind of person. Growing up, I’m sure everyone heard the saying that you prioritize for the things you care about. Exercising, I was convinced, was something I’d never prioritize while at UF.

During this winter break, though, I realized that maybe I did want to be fit again — or at the very least, I would want to healthily exercise instead of staying stationary for hours at a time. I already do that enough getting ready for finals. If you are anything like me, it is hard to follow through on an idea. Since coming back from break, I kept thinking to myself, “I need to go back to the gym.” But it sounds so much better in my head. Getting back into anything, let alone trying to work out, is a massive achievement, and I applaud anyone who can do it.

Enter the fundraiser that involved running — which was basically a gift from above. Not only was I raising money, but I had something motivating me to get up and run every day. I think that is one of the hardest things for people — motivation. Honestly, I’m not running or working out to lose weight or look good. I’m doing it so that I can feel better about myself. My motivation is that by the end of April, I can look back and tell myself “well done” and know I accomplished something that freshman me would’ve thrown up just thinking about it.

Running, exercising, or any way to work out is such a gift to your day. It has given me more structured days, which is so important. It makes me feel happier — a kind of happy I had been missing out on that for a year. Running has also given me great time with my friends. When we go on runs, it is a perfect time to catch up and have built-in time to hang out. Running with a friend has eliminated my excuse of not having time to hang out. Just inviting them to the gym or running is a great way to spend time with them, even if it’s only an hour.

If you are stuck in a rut of no motivation to go to the gym today, let this be your motivation.

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