Why running, Hillary? Are you a masochist? Do you enjoy inflicting pain upon yourself? No, I don’t enjoy pain. It’s one of my least favorite things. I’ve been in pain a majority of my life and can say with certainty that I don’t like it one bit. Okay, that’s being dramatic by saying I’ve been in pain a majority of my life. However, I started having pains in elementary school (rare allergic reaction symptoms to food allergy) with others through middle school (back pain), high school (back pain, ankle pain), and university (back pain). Throw in the smatterings of broken limbs and I think you’ve got the general picture. Friends and family tend to associate me with pains and general sickness.
I’ve finally reached a place where I don’t hurt all the time. Dieting is great and I do eat significantly healthier than I did before. Unfortunately, no diet can build muscle without you putting in the work. Here are 5 reasons why I chose running over all the other options.
Whenever I see someone running, I automatically am in awe of them. Running is not something that I could ever do. Pounding my feet into the ground agitates my ankle pain (still here, but tolerable) and was hard on my back. However, my back pain has been dealt with and I don’t feel like I have that excuse anymore. When I try to explain how “beginner” I am, I don’t think people really understand my level. I didn’t spend my middle school and high school years running around with friends. My parents encouraged me to not do anything athletic so I wouldn’t hurt myself. I don’t have the foundation that many people assume I have. I don’t exactly look athletic, but I don’t look like I spend every moment watching Netflix and eating pizza either. Or maybe I do look like that and I don’t notice? In short, I want to run because runners look fit to me.
But Hillary, other athletes look fit as well. Why not pick swimming (soft on joints) or lift weights at the gym (do you even lift, bro)? Because of my anxiety, that’s why. Anxiety prevents me from being around people in a swimsuit and prevents me from wanting to be around people in general. The last thing I want are strangers staring at me as I try to use an exercise machine. Not to mention I’ve heard unpleasant stories from the women around here who go to the gyms. I’m already ogled at just walking down the road when I feel comfortable, I couldn’t take being eyed while feeling vulnerable. Running gives me the ability to avoid most of the issues that arise from anxiety.
Running is also a solitary exercise (mostly). Sure, you can run in groups, but even then people tend to stay in their own heads and don’t chat much. One of the things that I miss most about Texas is the accessibility to quiet. Korea is so packed, and even in my small town there are people everywhere. To find quiet places I usually go to the beach or the park. The beach and park aren’t always quiet, but if you know when to go it’s pretty good. But the track… The most people I have ever seen there is 6. They have all walked alone and didn’t do any talking. No one acknowledges my presence and it’s like I’m un-fascinating. Honestly, it’s a nice feeling. Sometimes, you just want to be invisible and that’s okay.
Something I’ve noticed from previous running attempts is how my mind goes black. I simply concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping a steady breath. This discovery was a godsend. My brain never shuts up. It’s constantly going at the speed of light which is why I like reading and watching movies so much. My brain slows down for just those moments before it’s back at it like a hamster on a wheel. Moreover, I need to take melatonin to sleep at night because my brain won’t stop. Reaching this blackness while running, I didn’t know it was possible. And I want to do all I can to go there again.
Being outside and breathing fresh air is so rejuvenating. I spend all day inside a school, either in the main teachers’ office or in the classroom with students. The last thing I want to do is continue to be inside during my free time after work. Even when I am home, I like to open my window and have fresh air circulate through my apartment. Now, I want to clarify something. If my only option was to run inside on a treadmill, I would not be choosing this path. Being outside is a necessity for me. If there was an inside track, I would probably be okay with running there during the colder winter months. Unfortunately, that’s not an option and I will be attempting (with your encouragement) to continue running during the winter in South Korea. I don’t want to start and stop again, I want to keep going.