5 Ways Running is Saving my Life…So Far

So I would say I’ve been more consistently running for the past 1.5 months. I know I know, that hasn’t been that long, but I can feel it…I’m a runner! Every year, I start running and I say “I want to be a runner,” but then I slack off. I’ve struggled with this because I found that when it came to certain things in my life, i.e. fitness, chores, I’m never consistent. That has all changed now and I can officially say, “I’m a runner!” I’ve learned so much about myself in this 1.5 months of running and it’s changed me in some serious ways. Below are 5 ways running has changed my life.

1. My skin is clearing up. I know this is a bit on the superficial side y’all, but it’s serious for me. I’ve been battling adult acne for a while. About 3 months ago I went to a dermatologist and we went through a few rounds of topical medications. One minute I thought it was helping, the next it wasn’t, and so on. I kept getting these cystic pimples. Anywho, I completely eliminated gluten from my diet and that helped a lot. Then I started running. Right around my period I did not get those cystic pimples and my pore size may even be decreasing. I think it’s because the sweating is really purging whatever bacteria’s been sitting up in there, the natural way. I also truly think it’s because of my increased water intake as well, which brings me to number 2.

2. improved nutrition, just because…I remember seeing a post somewhere that said “Athletes Eat and Train, They Don’t Diet and Exercise.” This is so true. I’ve been on a journey towards better nutrition for the last 2-3 years. I started listening to my body and learning about various intolerances. I was so sluggish so something had to change. Once I began consistently training for this half marathon I noticed that my food choices became even more lax and all I had to do was listen to my body. If I wanted a bowl full of gluten free pad thai, I could eat it. I trusted that my body needed this for fuel and haven’t felt crappy after. A lot of foods don’t even appeal to me anymore. i.e. gluten or fried chicken, well, maybe sometimes…The thing about it is I know how certain foods will make me feel sluggish when running so I don’t even want it. The BIGGEST thing is I’m forced to hydrate more so I’m hoping I’m finally getting a sufficient daily water intake.

3. My mental and spiritual strength is going through the roof! Haha, maybe I’m exaggerating, but so much is happening with my mind and soul. I’ve been on this journey, really reflecting, getting to know myself, and what God seeks to manifest through me. Running has seriously taken this to the next level. Over the past year God has truly been showing me my strength. Running is now the icing on the cake. I realize that all of those other years when I tried to become a runner, I just wasn’t ready yet. Another quote I saw somewhere, “your body will only go as far as your mind.” It’s so true. After every milestone I make as a runner, I have renewed faith that my body can go even further. Whereas before, I thought of 3 miles, 6 miles, and 13.1 miles as impossible. I looked around at other runners and thought I could never run like them. Well, yeah, I can never run like them and I’m ok with that. I can only run like me. I now understand “my race, my pace” and I’m ok with that. It actually gets me through those runs when I think I can’t go any further. Seeing how much I can push myself in running has translated into other areas in my life. i.e. the fact that I always dread cleaning. Well, I still do, but I’m a bit more motivated to get it done now. Mentally, I no longer think it will take forever. I just have to start and know that I will FINISH.  It’s the same with running. Now if only I can apply that to grading papers and writing this here dissertation.

4. A renewed sense of community. I’ve been feeling a communal void for a few years now. I’ve felt like I lack a sense of truly belonging to any particular community. I’ve known that I need to take steps to become deeply invested in a meaningful community, (outside of the broader education world) and I’m working on it. When I consistently started running though I felt like the community found me or rather I more naturally let my guard down and found the running community. Thank God for Black Girls Run. While I’m not even super active, (working on that), their mere existence has given me a sense of belonging. How people refer to each other as “sis” or “sole sister” is truly endearing. The fact that every running level is embraced and supported, is a beautiful thing. There’s also the broader running community. Moments when I speak with colleagues about running or random people on the train. And let’s not forget the cyber running the community. Thank you for giving me a sense of belonging!

5. Freedom! This is a biggie for me. It makes me think back to a virtual dialogue I had with one of my mentors a couple of weeks back (I don’t think she knows I consider her a mentor), but she framed it quite simply. She prioritizes running for her health and to keep her sane. I’ve really been shifting my perspective over the past year and this truly resonates. When I go out to run I allow myself to spend as much time as it takes and schedule everything around this. I know it’s a privilege, but why shouldn’t I have it for ME. As a Black woman, I’ve been programmed to have this superwoman syndrome, and anything that focuses on my betterment is seen as selfish. Well, I’m over that. I only have one life to live and I’m putting me first…I know my efforts come from a good place. I love my parents and am deeply invested in education. I have nothing to prove to anyone else. Overall, this aligns with the way I approach life more and more. I’m ok with saying “no” when it doesn’t seem right. True friends/colleagues/fam will understand. Running allows me to focus on me. It reminds me that I’m ok being single because there are so many things I can do to invest in myself and when the right partner comes along I’ll be ready to bring MYSELF. Lastly, running has pushed me to take (even) more risks. I’ve done and accomplished a lot in my short time on earth, but I want to do so much more. I found myself in a rut for a while where I was waiting for life to happen, but all I have is now. So I’m getting out there and doing what intrigues me. That means, I’m going on a runcation in Jamaica in December by myself! No, I did not wait for other people to confirm that they can join me. I’m all booked and ready to go! Because I can! I’m counting my blessings!



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13 responses to “5 Ways Running is Saving my Life…So Far”

  1. Lauren Keating says :

    Loved reading this post. When is your half-marathon? I am currently training for one that is finally in 2 weeks! I have been running on and off for almost a year now, but the past few months, I have really dedicated myself to training and living healthy. I too, used to think that 10+ miles at a time was impossible. Running has taught me so much about myself. “Your body will only go as far as your mind,” is a quote that is so true. I too, have experienced all the benefits you write about. Keep on running!

    • wawatty says :

      Thanks Lauren! My half isn’t until May so I still have a ways to go. I can see it though and ever since I was a kid when I envisioned something, it usually happened. One night I saw myself riding a bike, the next day my mom took me out and I could ride. Good luck on your half! You got this!

      • Lauren Keating says :

        That is great that you are committed and you will be ready for May. Good luck! I keep envisioning how it will feel to cross the finish line. We can do it!

  2. Gabriela says :

    It made me so happy to read this. Last time we saw each other we talked about how much you missed doing regular exercise, and look at you now! I know that you have so much on your plate and making time to run requires a lot of planning and dedication. But as you said, we have so little time, and must really live in the moment and focus on our own happiness and well being. As educators, we often spend more time giving and thinking about others. I think that when we are in a good place – mentally, physically, and emotionally – great things can happen. I look forward to hearing how things start to fall into place for you. So glad you will go to Jamaica! Good for you for making that happen. We have to plan those gifts to ourselves because we deserve it. Love you girl. Hope to see you soon…

    • wawatty says :

      Thanks for your push back in November Ms. Gabriela. You prob had no clue how impactful it was going to be. Yes, as educators, we must take care of ourselves so that we can pay it forward. Let’s connect soon. I need a capoeira update. Love you too!

  3. victwa says :

    This whole blog made me really happy (well, that you’re writing it– not everything was written to be happy), but this post made me smile for lots of reasons. I have a longer response brewing to you, but keep running and writing!

  4. Cassy Q says :

    Reading this has been seriously inspiring. With all you have on your plate, it is so wonderful that you made time to do this for yourself. I can only hope that one day I too will have the strength to push myself through to doing something for me. That sluggish feeling you had way back when, I have it now so I know it is truly time. Thank you for writing this, you probably don’t realize how much this can do for another woman. Keep up the great work my friend.

    • wawatty says :

      Thanks Cassy! I always say start small. Think of that one essential change that you think will give you an initial boost. It could be going for a 15 minute walk every other day. Cutting out soda. Think about works for you. I’m always down to chat about this or even join you for a walk. Let me know! Love ya!

  5. crysg83 says :

    Hey love! Thank you so much for writing and sharing your thoughts, feelings, meditations!!! I absolutely LOVED IT. Reminds me of the power of writing – I felt motivated to eat better (I gave away my $15 chocolate yesterday), to workout, and to actually believe I can accomplish so many of the things I’ve long treated as impossible – that I can actually be the woman I’m meant to be. I said yesterday you inspire me and you do. And I have ALWAYS considered you a runner enough so that it didn’t dawn on me you did not see that in yourself as well – that’s how much I believe. Can’t wait to read the next piece 🙂

    • wawatty says :

      It means a lot hearing from you that you appreciate my writing, since you’re a writer and all! I’m so glad that you’re making the shifts to be the woman you ARE! It’s already in you. Take small steps. I find that I still cannot fully envision my full capacity, but like I said in the post, with every milestone, I am reassured that I can accomplish my next goal. Keep me posted on your progress. ♥

  6. Maribel says :

    So I’m pretty late in reading this as this is what we were talking about at dinner on Sat lol. But now I have a better understanding. So glad you got to know you and all you’re capable of in running! Like I said, I also find it hard to remain committed to my own health goals. It’s so easy to not do it and say I will start tomorrow, so reading this definitely helps. You are definitely a priority and putting yourself first is never selfish, it’s a necessity we must never forget!!

    • wawatty says :

      Yes! Maribel. I find that outlining, either in your head or on paper/computer all of the benefits to engaging in the healthy habits you want helps and giving it time. All of those other times I wanted immediate gratification, which I wasn’t going to get. So I had to think/analyze less about it and then just do it, no matter the circumstances. Well, except when it was freezing cold. Get back out there! I’m always down for a run 🙂

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