Today is National Running Day. Did you know it’s a real holiday?! National Running Day was created in 2009 to let runners everywhere declare their passion for the sport. Major organizations, such as New York Road Runners and Boston Athletic Association, support the holiday on the first Wednesday of June each year. There are groups runs and events being held across the country to celebrate.
I’ve shared bits and pieces of my running story over the last year and a half. While many people start running earlier in life, such as on a middle school track team, I swore I wasn’t a runner for the first 24 years of my life. I was a competitive dancer until college and had never tried running more than two consecutive miles. I dreaded the mile run in high school gym class. I spent my college days on a low-resistance elliptical. I thought running was uncomfortable and boring. Looking back, I know that it was the mental aspect of running that stood in my way. I think this is true for many people.
For 2+ years after moving to New York, I took boutique fitness classes, which reminded me of dance classes. I secretly admired distance runners who looked calm and focused as they ran through Central Park. It wasn’t until watching the 2013 New York City Marathon (three months after I started blogging), that I was inspired to register for my first race. The next day, I registered to train for and run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC in April 2014 with Team in Training to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In preparation for my first race, I mostly trained with run/walk intervals. I shocked myself on race day by running every step. Crossing that first finish line with my dad (a lymphoma survivor) watching was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was hooked.
Since then, I’ve run two more half marathons (Nike San Francisco and Pittsburgh) and one full marathon (Walt Disney World). If you would have told me after running my first half marathon a year ago that I’d run a full marathon in January 2015, I would have laughed. I still considered 13.1 miles a massive goal. I thought marathoners were serious (insane) athletes, and that I’d never be able to run 26.2 miles. However, during the excitement before my second half, I registered for Disney 12 weeks before the race. I put so much mental, physical, and emotional effort into training for my first marathon and was amazed at what my body could accomplish. Crossing that finish line at Epcot (while ugly crying) is the proudest moment of my life. I’m now a serious (insane) athlete.
I feel a secret satisfaction when I tell someone I’m a distance runner. While I’m not the fastest athlete on the course, I run just as far as the athletes in Corral A. Running is certainly physical, but I think distance runners are defined by their mental strength. When you slowly learn to endure 20-mile training runs, your sanity should be questioned. Running is choosing not to snooze the alarm because the park is waiting. Running is crossing a finish line and registering for your next race that night. Running is knowing what PR, BQ, DNF, and LSD mean. Running is training through the dozens of heavy miles for that weightless run that could last forever.