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!