There are so many things to be thankful for on a regular basis. A warm blanket on a chilly day, for starters. My health, always. Friends and family, who help me stay grounded when life feels chaotic. But lately, my biggest feelings of gratitude go toward running.
I’ve been a runner for a decent amount of time now. I started lacing up regularly back in 2008 in an effort to lose weight. Already down about 35 pounds at the time, I was looking for a way to stay active that didn’t require any equipment. As a then-college sophomore, it was hard to forget the Emily who couldn’t muster a sub-10-minute mile in high school — an act that prevented me from making the junior varsity volleyball team.
Still, I persisted. Albeit slowly at first, I kicked things off with a crawling half-mile every day that I absolutely hated (but loved how I felt, after). That half-mile eventually turned into a full mile, which I didn’t dread so much. Then, a 5K. Then, well, I’m now an eight-time marathoner prepping for my ninth in London come April.
GRATITUDE FOR RUNNING
There are so many things I’ve come to love about this sport.
It’s non-judgmental: The thing about running is it’s forgiving. Running doesn’t care what’s going on in the office or your personal life. It’s waiting for me with open arms after a break-up, lost contract or just a plain bad day.
It’s always there: As long as you show up, it shows up for you, too. Some days, running involves a slow 5K that makes you remember the days before you did it regularly. The days before it felt relatively easy. Others, though, it surprises you. Heck, you surprise yourself. On the days where the miles feel easy, running makes you feel invincible and valuable. Running reminds you of your worth and what you have to bring to the table, regardless of what anyone else has to say.
It’s grounding: For me, running is a release. It helps me locate my calm when it feels like there is none to be found. When I do it first thing in the morning, the run is my opportunity to get a leg up on everyone else as they stay tucked in bed. Those morning miles, they’re especially serene. When the headphones stay at home, the only sound at 6:10 a.m. is my feet pounding the pavement as cabs breeze by. The pounding of my heart in my chest and my breath, in total sync.
It’s universal: It can be done any time, anywhere. On the hot days. On the cold ones (with the right cold-weather gear). Late at night on a treadmill (because there are benefits to running on the treadmill). Midday during a lunch break. It can be done in shorts or leggings, sweatpants even (albeit, maybe not super fast). Once you consider yourself a runner, you’re always sizing up how fast you can get from point A to point B. Across the street before the light turns red, or to the bus stop just before it pulls away. Once you consider yourself a runner, you unlock your own potential.
I often try to think about other things in my life‚ people or experiences — that give me this much positivity. To be candid, there aren’t many. Running has built my confidence. Taught me that hard work is important. Helped me understand what it means to truly believe in myself.
Running reminds me I am alive. For me, there’s nothing more magical than that.