Running saved my life. I started running at a time when I was unhealthy, unmotivated, and completely unwilling to admit that. I didn’t care about the food I was eating or the lack of exercise I was getting. As a multi-sport athlete my entire life all throughout high school, I had become a glimmer of my former self. When I eventually got injured in high school and was not able to play softball in college, I somehow lost most of my motivation and drive to be healthy. For several years I continued down this path of denial.
After college, something changed. I began to meet strong, healthy women in my graduate school program and wanted to become more like them. But I wasn’t quite sure how to escape my unhealthy routines. Around this time, I had finally gone to see a spinal doctor after many years of back discomfort. He told me I had degenerative disc disease and that one of the ways to slow the progression is to maintain a healthy weight. This was what I needed to push my motivation over the edge. I realized that I needed to change my habits and my body not to “look good” but to save my health and my future.
The biggest question was: what should I do to start my transition to a healthier me? This transition in my life happened to occur in 2011, the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Every year there is a race called the Tunnel to Towers 5K race in New York City in honor of a firefighter who passed away on September 11. As a lifelong New Yorker, I’ve always wanted to run this race since it held such a special place in my heart, but was afraid it wouldn’t be physically possible for me. But I realized if there was a time to try this, it was now. This was my chance. I took a leap of faith and registered.
Not only did I end up finishing that race, but LOVED it. After that first 5K, in a way my life began over again. I signed up for more races, including my first half marathon–the NYC Half. I also realized that in order to be a runner I needed to maintain healthy fitness habits and eat the right foods for energy. During training, I slowly began to lose more and more weight until one day I realized half of my clothes no longer fit me. That is always a great moment for anyone trying to be healthier, but that’s not the moment I felt most proud.
After months of training for the NYC Half, I ran the farthest I ever have in my life and crossed the finish line. It marked the moment where I not only looked healthy on the outside, but I felt it on the inside. This was absolutely my proudest moment.
Throughout training, I realized that running filled the void I had in my life ever since I stopped playing sports after high school. Running is unlike other sports in that it mainly involves competition within yourself. It encourages you to set challenges and work from within to achieve them. Because of this, I have become a stronger, more motivated person. I can now set personal goals and be able to plan the steps to accomplish them. There is no greater feeling that setting a goal and reaching it, whether it be for weight loss, a running personal record, or to be a better person.
Following this race, I was so inspired and decided to start a running and healthy living blog. After I started my page, I met so many wonderful, strong women who inspire me each and every day. And I try to inspire them right back. Becoming a part of this community has helped keep me motivated, introduced me to new types of food, fitness, and running tips, and allowed for the realization that I no longer have to go through things alone.
In the past few years I worked hard to save my life. Since I started running I have also branched out into other forms of fitness: cycling, swimming, spinning, and others! I may even sign up for a duathlon or triathlon in the future. I only hope that there are more positive experiences for me that will help me continue to grow as a runner and also as a person. Check out my blog to follow my journey!