“Do I HAVE to run?”

“Yes!”

“NOOOOO!!!”

Okay, so many years back, this short, dramatic dialogue was between me and my swim coach. Just thinking about running made me sweat (and that was before the workout began). Imagine what happened when I actually ran! NOT PRETTY, but that wasn’t to say that I had terrible running form because honestly, I didn’t.  I ran quite well, in fact. I was smooth and efficient, practical in my pacing, and very willing to commit to the distance (despite hating it the entire time). I had lots of speed, too, and at one point or another I held the mile record for my middle school.

Impressed?

Well, I wasn’t! No amount of running success made me like it ANY better and no sum of compliments made me willing to race around a track over and over again either.

Random people would say, “You need to get that girl on a track team!”

My mom would respond, “Well, I really don’t think Kristin enjoys running that much.”

And I would counter, “THANK YOU MOMMY!” (Of course with a huge smile on my face)

Where am I going with this? (I’m glad you asked)

What I’m trying to explain is that my first experiences with running were intense; therefore, I adopted the idea (at a very young age) that running was TORTURE: I didn’t run because I wanted to, I ran because I HAD to. Growing up as a swimmer, gymnast, and dancer, running was a means to staying in shape, something that my coaches made me do even during the off season (usually during summer on very hot days). This did not sit well with me, so the more I was forced to run, the more I hated it.

I remember running around and around… and around and around my gymnastic gym’s pebbly parking lot in a hundred degree weather thinking WHAT A WASTE OF TIME it was to be running in circles versus running across a fun, bouncy floor into a round-off, back handspring, layout. I mean REALLY! What could be better than bouncing while running? That just makes running worthwhile! Okay, so it’s not quite as fun as running on a trampoline, but still it’s way (WAY) more interesting than running on hard, little rocks. OUCH!

Another not so fond memory of running is thinking about all the aches and pains I had: Trust me; switch leaping across a hard dance floor, then running three miles on rigid, uneven pavement is definitely not something you want to try. It hurts, plus, is very bad on your knees (yet another reason running was not my #1). There were many moments while growing up I wondered whether my knees would make it and let me just say, to my dismay, I found out the hard way in college.

So as I grew up and into a young college going lady, I saw lots of students running around campus. These images of non student-athletes running on their own free will made me question, “WHY???!!!” I didn’t understand what it was about running that made it so appealing to people. I came to the conclusion that they must be running (on their own free will nonetheless) because of its calorie burning benefits, you know, so that they could eat that huge piece of good old dining hall pizza. Right?!?

Well, not necessarily… Some of my friends begged to differ, so I decided to give running another chance, you know, the college try. The same day that my friends scorned me, then informed me about the benefits of running (and NOT for its pizza eating rights), I decided to go for a run: I threw on my chic running clothes, wrapped a dark, blue watch around my wrist, double knotted my neon yellow shoe laces, then raced out the door. I ran four miles up and down the long, hilly road I lived on, but to my dismay was uncomfortable the entire time: I was tensed and groggy, uninspired and unwilling to commit to any more miles.

Kristin S. - YogaA few months later during dance practice, having danced in a few college shows already, my right knee cap popped out and rotated all the way to the right. Frantic with the uncertainty of why, I blamed the entire thing on running. I was angry and mad and never willing to run again (well, so I thought). The fact of the matter was that running did not do that to my knee, well not entirely; it was a culmination of swimming breaststroke, pounding the floor in gymnastics and dance, and also from over stretching.

Time past and yoga set in: My first year out of college I taught High School; the stresses of the year weakened my mind. I was overwhelmed and in dire need of a mental tune up, so I began practicing yoga. Yoga re-centered my soul and gave me the incentive to open my heart to running for the first time: After my knee recovered I decided to give running another chance. I applied the yogic principles to my daily life and to my runs: the breathing, the calmness, the meditation; my life finally began to fall in rhythm with my breath.

No longer was running something that uncomfortably got me from Point A to Point B; it became something magical, like watching fireworks explode for the very first time. My new found connection with nature (thanks to yoga) was a truly endearing experience; the sway of the trees, the sounds of the animals, the little drops of rain that fell inspired each and every run. Not to mention finally my body relaxed, my breathe smoothed, and my eyes opened to my surroundings. Truthfully, perspective is everything! Without it we are merely scrambling creatures indulging in our own demise.

GET SOME PERSPECTIVE!

You see, when I analyzed myself from the inside out (for a change), I realized my mind was poisoning my body: My hatred for running never matured; therefore, my body kept rejecting the miles. When you allow negativity to infiltrate your mind, there is NO way to cross the finish line (at least not with a good attitude). Each step nags a little bit more than the one prior to and before you know it, you’re either injured (because you’re tensed) or quitting (because you hate it). This is NOT the best way to live; trust me, I KNOW!

I AM NOT SAYING THIS:
I am NOT telling you that opening your mind equates to ultimate pleasure; I doubt you will enjoy each and every activity you try, even if you approach them with the best attitude.

I AM SAYING THIS:
I AM telling you that with the right mindset, exercising can be soothing. Staying fit is all about perspective: Open your heart, listen to your body, and enjoy the movement.
Presently, I am training to run under a twenty minute 5k. Without PERSPECTIVE I NEVER would have fully understood my talent as a runner. Now with my new found ability, I’m living life and LOVING my runs!

 

~Kristin

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About Michelle S.

"Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever..." Make each day better than the day before.

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