I never liked running. In fact, I despised it. Running on a treadmill was like being on a human hamster wheel, a continuous loop of staring out the window of my mediocre apartment gym trying to find something to focus on—anything to keep my mind off the fact that I absolutely hated running.
For a change of scenery, I transitioned from the treadmill to the great outdoors and ventured to Buffalo Bayou. I still hated every second of the exercise, but I was getting faster, and my breathing and endurance had improved. Eventually, something else happened, too: I wasn't bored anymore.
This October, about a year into my reluctant relationship with running, I actually paid money to run a 10K marathon. Who the hell am I becoming? I ask myself every time I lace up my sneakers. I don’t know where this newfound infatuation will lead, but I do have some advice for those who are looking to make a similar change.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
It truly is all mental.
You’ll be surprised how much your body can handle. The hardest part is getting started, but with the right mindset, you can absolutely crush the distance.
Set a goal for yourself.
Running with nothing to chase is no fun. If you’re competitive or hard on yourself like I am, you’ll want something to work toward. It keeps things interesting.
Find a running buddy.
This is optional, of course, as plenty of people prefer to zone out on a long run and forget the day's problems. But for others, running with a friend—two- or four-legged—can pass the time and also help with your breathing.
Look good, feel good.
I've found that running any distance, be it one mile or four, gave me a sense of accomplishment—not to mention some much-needed endorphins. I picked up some new workout swag, which motivated me to get out there and show other runners that I, too, do this for real.
You don’t have to change your lifestyle.
I might have added something healthy to my repertoire, but I also haven’t quit any of my bad habits that include but are not limited to: drinking, eating too much fried chicken, and the occasional smoke. Granted, it might actually help to cut those things completely out of my life, but I’m not insane.
My point here is that I never thought I would be a runner—ever. I used to cringe at the thought of running anything more than a mile. Learning to enjoy running is a journey within itself, and one I’m still on.
I’m not here to convert anyone, but it is nice to get out and enjoy the scenery this city has to offer—especially this time of the year with the spurts of fall-like weather and crisper air feels less like a mosquito-infested sauna. Even if you stop 100 times during your run, the fact that you’re trying is a feat within itself.