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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

I think something about college has really changed my mentality when it comes to exercising. I reflect on how I used to exercise in high school and how great of shape I was in. Now, with so much more time on my hands, the idea of doing any physical activity sounds like too much to ask. I literally ran a half marathon when I was 15 years old, and now running more than a mile would surely be the end of me. 

I’m simply no longer the person I was at 15. I don’t prioritize or even do the same sorts of activities anymore, so I also don’t look the same. I feel guilty because it’s been one heck of a year, and simply surviving and keeping myself comfortable is something I’m really proud of, regardless of what my body looks like. At the same time, if I want to look different and feel better about myself, I’m the one who has to take that step and revert back to my old mentality from 4 years ago. Simply put, I have to make myself exercise.

I’ve tried to be the type of person that could religiously go to the gym every day, but the older I get, the harder it gets to think, “Wow, I should go for a run,” when I’m just sitting there with nothing to do. Even though this thought has come to my mind, I’ve succeeded at running only a whopping 3 times. It’s simply not my thing.

However, let me dedicate my article today to those 3 times I have chosen to go for a run. Were they the greatest experiences of my life? No, of course not. Nevertheless, they taught me a lot about what I want out of a healthier lifestyle. That being said, if you aren’t a fitness junkie and want to indulge in the idea of taking care of yourself through a little jog on a pretty day, this article is for you.

Tirachard Kumtanom

One thing that surprised me about the runs I went on is that they weren’t as hard as I expected them to be, at least, not when I first started running. I would start out agonizingly slow so that I wouldn’t have to stop after only running a 10th of a mile. Don’t get me wrong; I still had the strong urge to stop in my tracks and take a breather fifteen steps in. Nevertheless, I pushed through and continued moving at my super slow pace.

I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings when I realized how quickly I got out of breath. However, when I persevered and felt that accomplishment of moving just a little farther, I started to realize how strong I was. If I kept this up, I could become even stronger, more disciplined, and more importantly, feel better about myself.

When I ran, I saw people out with their friends, dogs, significant others, or even with their parents. It was always a pretty day when I would make myself run, and it felt good to see so many others taking advantage of the outdoors. We keep forgetting how long we have been isolated due to the pandemic, and to feel the sunshine again while seeing others doing the exact same thing… it’s nostalgic. So, not only was I improving my well-being through exercise, I was improving it by seeing the world almost how it used to be once again. It was good for my soul.

I think the clarity I gained from completing my runs is the most important part of the whole experience. When I would look at my watch and see the statistics of a run, I would see that I ran a mile and a half in about 18 minutes. This was definitely not outstanding, but the time didn’t change how proud I was of myself just for doing it! I had completed my task of going out and running on a whim. I pushed myself, got some sunlight, and witnessed society as if life had never changed.

It’s important to remember that things don’t happen overnight. I can’t go run and then stand in front of my mirror for 10 minutes looking for improvement. Instead, I drink a ton of water, shower, and relax. I relish in the fact that I did something beneficial for myself. As an exhausted college student who has struggled staying motivated as the world sits still and socially distant, I celebrate this small victory of caring for myself.

woman raising her hands in victory
Tirachard Kumtanom/Pexels
That being said, I understand running may not be the answer for everyone. Nevertheless, if you’ve considered trying to work towards being healthier, either physically or mentally, go outside and do something your body will thank you for. You can run, walk, maybe even do yoga if that’s the move for you. Meditate and communicate with the thoughts in your head that are simply trying to get acquainted with you. Enjoy what the sun has to offer you, and if you’re half as hard on yourself as I am, spend the rest of the day thanking yourself for being so kind to the vessel you’ve been given to spend your life with.

I know this is a lot to compile in a solid 3 runs. In case you couldn’t tell, I think pretty often. Still, at the end of the day, I’ve learned so much by going out for twenty minutes and getting my heart rate up a little bit. I’m also grateful to write this article and encourage you all to do the same. Perhaps I’ll go for another one soon and see what else can come of it. I’ll be sure to let you know!

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Gabby Taylor

Virginia Tech '22

I am a senior at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Communication Science with minors in Psychology and Sociology. While writing is one of my greatest passions, I also enjoy spending time with my friends, my cat, and living in my daydreams :) enjoy my stories!
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