Today is global running day. This is a day that celebrates the sport of running. Runners of all ages and abilities pledge to take part in some type of running activity. I have been a runner for about 12 years now. I stared off as a run/walker, then a jogger, and now I can comfortable and confidently call myself a runner. After running numerous 5Ks and one half-marathon, I can proudly say that my running journey was exactly that; a journey, with ups and downs, starts and stops. I would like to share with you my run story, my WHYs for running, my love for the running community, and how running impacts my mental and emotional health.
It all started about 12 years ago. I moved to Atlanta a year prior and wanted to become more physically active. I tried going to the gym and that was't a fit for me. I didn't really know what to do while I was there and was not interested in working with a trainer. So I took it to the streets, literally. I started jog/walking in my neighborhood. I enjoyed it even though sometimes it was tough. I knew how important consistency was so I stuck with it. Over time, running by myself was becoming boring. None of my friends were runners so every run I did was solo. That was until I discovered how huge the running community is in Atlanta. There is at least one race every weekend year round in Atlanta. This excited me because I knew that if I ran a race, I would connect with other like-minded individuals. I signed up for my first race which was the Shamrock N Roll 5K. The race bug bit me so hard that I vowed to run a 5K every month of that year. And I did! I was starting to notice that running was becoming effortless for me and I was meeting new people. I loved the way my body felt and the impact that running had on my energy as well as my sleep was incredible.
The biggest impact was what running did and continues to do for my mental/emotional health. I will start by saying that running is NOT therapy. I have seen "running is my therapy" or some variation of that phrase on shirts at just about every race I have run. Although running can be therapeutic, it is NOT a replacement for therapy. I understand why people think running is therapy though. I experience the mental and emotional health benefits of running every time I lace up. When I run, I have the opportunity to connect with my thoughts and really listen to what I am thinking. I can process recent events and emotions. After I run, I usually feel less stressed out than when I started the run. Running also improves my mental toughness and determination. If I know that I can power up Cardiac Hill, then I know that I can move through challenging situation in other parts of my life. Running connects me to me. During the time of my run, whether its 5 minutes or an hour and a half, I am disconnected from everything and everyone but myself. In the age of technology, it is extremely important to have some time away from our phones and screens. Another reason I continue to run is for longevity. The longer I move my body, the longer it will be able to move.
The running community is like nothing I have ever experienced before. The first run group I became familiar with was Black Girls Run (BGR). This group intrigued me because it emphasized and supported Black women in being more physically healthy. BGR did this by hosting group runs all over the city so you did not have to run alone and you could build a network of support and accountability around your running. BGR also has a phenomenal couch to 5K program. Through BGR introduced me to Running Nerds and West Midtown Run Club. I was also introduced to the Atlanta Track Club. Along the way, I met my then boyfriend, now husband who was a personal training and hosted a fun run at his gym. There is a community there as well called The YourDay Balance Game. Other amazing run groups/communities that I recently discovered are Pretty Girls Sweat and RUNGRL. All of these groups have become part of my larger running community. A few of the races I have run are Shamrock N Roll, The Peachtree Road Race, Hot Chocolate 5K, MLK Day 5K, The HBCU 5K, and The Race.
There have been times when the inspiration to run was not there. I have taken time off from running in the past. It usually does not last for more than a few weeks. Being connected to a community and remembering how my mind and body feel when I am running is what gets me back on track. If you are thinking about running, do it. Start running. Your run might actually start as a walk. That is okay. The important thing is that you started. You have an entire global community behind you!
What's your running story?
Share it with me!
Love, live, light