The following is a guest blog by Anne of fANNEtastic Food.
I don’t remember the first time I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door for a run. But I do remember not enjoying it – at least not at first.
There are a lot of reasons why I love running now – it’s my time to think and de-stress, my undivided time to catch up with friends, my way of seeing gorgeous sunrises and enjoying nature. (See also last year’s guest post: An Ode to the Early Morning Run.) But ironically, one of the main reasons I now love running so much is also partly the reason why I originally didn’t like it. It’s the fact that running is hard.
I was always active as a kid, but I was never a runner until after college. I remember once in high school, as part of tennis practice, our coach had us run 2 straight miles. “2 miles?!? That’s SO far!” we shrieked. I still remember it to this day because of how much we complained and how hard the run felt.
At first, I looked at the fact that running was hard as a bad thing. We’ve all felt like that while running and I know I still feel like that sometimes – but what I’ve found is that the challenge is what makes running really worthwhile. Continuing running even when it’s hard has taught me that I’m stronger than I think I am, not just in running but also in life. It’s taught me that choosing the easier, more comfortable option isn’t usually the most rewarding. And it’s given me a lot of confidence to know that when something gets tough if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I’ll eventually get through. Plus, nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment and the rush of endorphins you get from pushing hard on a run, finishing a race, or tackling a new distance. Starting my day with a run, no matter how tough, always sets it off on the right foot – pun intended.
I’ve also come to really love the running community over the years. There’s a sort of unspoken bond between runners – a silent head nod or quick wave, a glint in your eyes that says “Yep, we’re hardcore” or “Look at all we’d be missing if we were still in bed or on the couch.” There’s also the ease of conversation that comes when meeting a fellow runner – the near immediate dive into favorite and upcoming races, PRs, best running routes, current training, and most awesome and ridiculous/terrible running experiences. As a runner, you sometimes learn things the hard way, and I love that the running community is so open and willing to share and support one another, no matter how taboo the topic. (See also: Top 5 Nutrition Mistakes Made By Runners)
It took finding running buddies for me to really understand the power – and the joy – in running. Having someone to meet made all the difference, and with someone to talk to the miles flew by. And now, many runs and many miles later, I don’t know where I’d be without running – or without those who run by my side, week in and week out.
Anne Mauney is a Washington D.C.-area Registered Dietitian (check out her Nutrition for Runners program) and the writer behind the food and fitness blog fANNEtastic food, which she started in 2009 as a way to motivate others to lead happier, healthier lives through nutrition and exercise. She aims to show readers that it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated to be healthy – and in fact, it can even be fun! Anne is an avid runner and has completed several full marathons and more than 15 half marathons. Check out her blog for easy healthy recipes, quick meal ideas and packable lunches, daily fitness and running adventures, health tips and more. You can also find her on Twitter @fANNEtasticfood, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.