By Kathleen Mcauliffe, Guest Blogger June 28, 2015
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Given the amount of running pages I like on Facebook, it’s unsurprising that weight loss and body correcting posts clog my feed. Though I typically scroll mindlessly past these posts, one lamenting that “I Trained for a Marathon and Got Fat” recently piqued my interest. This headline forced me to take stock of my own running habit. Would I commit myself to a months long training regimen requiring 5 AM mornings and 50+ mile weeks knowing that I’d gain 5, 10, 15 pounds in the end?
The answer? Absolutely. Running has transformed my being in ways that can’t be described by calorie counts or hip measurements.
Running nurtures my adventures and fosters my spontaneity. Whether it’s randomly happening upon the Colosseum in Rome, watching Barcelona’s La Rambla spring to life, absorbing an Irish sunrise, or just admiring my campus’ picturesque lakefront views, running has exposed me to awe-inspiring sights I otherwise never would have encountered.
I run so that, for even 20 minutes, my body outpaces my racing mind.
During the initial miles, I’m still consumed by thoughts and anxieties about the upcoming day. But as the miles pass, my breath quickens, and my legs accelerate. My entire consciousness relaxes. My daily worries- the final exam in 2 hours, the misspoken words to a friend, the looming job interview- fade into my subconscious for three or four blissfully contented miles. In those moments, only my mind, heart, and surroundings exist. Away from modern society’s demands for 24/7 connection, I’m grounded in nature.
Running forces a temporary but intoxicating loss of control. Each run pits against the elements, an equally terrifying and invigorating challenge to my type A personality. Despite my desires to nail 7:30/mile paces like clockwork, I can only go as quickly as my body allows. Steep hills and troubling terrains can disrupt even the steadiest of rhythms. And no matter how religiously I check the forecast, sometimes a sudden downpour leaves me two miles from home and soaked to the bone. But in overcoming these obstacles, I’ve learned to appreciate them for simultaneously humbling and empowering me.
But most importantly, every run- whether it’s two miles or ten- is a useful microcosm of life; in 30 minutes or less, it covers every emotion that makes life so special- nervous and excited anticipation, blissful contentment, panicked frustration, paralyzing doubt, and elation. Before lunch, I’ve already experienced life.
In light of this passion, devoting hours to my running excites me. To think that others may pour hours into a fitness routine solely for the purpose of burning energy saddens me. Think about the routines filling the free holes in your own day. If they don’t invoke this kind of life-affirming passion, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your own priorities. Disconnect from the external forces of your social circle and society. Really investigate your reasons for spending your time in that way. Is it to lose weight? To impress someone? Or does it motivate you, test your mental limitations, and mold you into the best possible version of yourself?
While you’re pondering that, I’ll be starting my half marathon training.
Do you like to run? If so, why? If not, what gives you the same escape that running gives Kathleen? Tell us below!
Kathleen is a psychology major living in Chicago, her favorite place in the world. Aside from writing, she is obsessed with the news and social media, as well as running and overall fitness. She dreams of living somewhere on a beach once she graduates, but after studying abroad in Europe she wants to explore everywhere.
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