Finding What Moves You: My Journey To Become A Runner
My dad was a runner. He ran cross country in high school and ran throughout his entire adult life. He was the dad who always brought sneakers on our family vacations so that he could sneak in a run here and there. He wasn’t necessarily competitive about it, he just purely enjoyed it.
As a kid this made absolutely no sense to me. I hated running. Why would anyone run unless they were chasing after some sort of ball?
When I was about 5, my mom signed us up for a “Father-Daughter dash”, which was a mile-long race for kids and their parents. Though my dad tried to get me to train, I more or less refused. I always found some sort of excuse –it was too hot, I had a really hard day at school, or I just would rather do anything else.
On the day of the race, I sprinted out at the starting line, competitively trying to get ahead of all the other kids. About a tenth of a mile in, I lost my breath, started wheezing, and got a terrible stitch in my side. I remember being frustrated and embarrassed that I couldn’t just DO this. The entire race passed us by, and my dad silently giggled to himself as we were the last two to walk across the finish line.
As I became a young adult, I wanted to find a structured way to stay active, so I signed up for a local half marathon. Learning from my past experience, I knew that I would need some extra motivation to stick to a training plan. So, I decided to raise money for the American Cancer Society in my dad’s honor. I ended up raising about $4500, which was incredible and humbling, but also really kicked my butt into gear.
Then a funny thing happened when I was training – I started to like it. Running was still a chore, but I felt motivated by the progress I was making. I liked feeling healthy and strong and enjoyed exploring my city on my runs. When the race finally came, it was exciting being around people who had worked just as hard as I had to achieve their own individual and our shared goal. This time, crossing the finish line gave me a huge sense of accomplishment, knowing my hard work had paid off. I knew right away I wanted to do it all again.
Now, I am a runner, and I absolutely love it. I’ll never win any sort of race, and somedays it’s tough to get myself out the door, but there is so much about running that keeps me coming back. I love pushing myself to achieve crazy goals using literal and figurative incremental steps. I love how much running has benefitted both my physical and mental health. I love participating in running clubs and discovering local trails, both of which make me feel connected to the world around me. I love how running is a purely selfish activity in the best possible way; it doesn’t require or benefit anything or anyone else but me. And of course, I love that I now understand why my dad loved running so much.
Finding what moves you – whether its running, cycling, dancing, or yoga-ing – can range from small to deeply personal. What I’ve learned is that you don’t need just one thing to keep you motivated; having a handful of reasons in my back pocket has made it easier for me to stay active. In Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation's Stride-And-Seek challenge starting July 12, we hope you look for all of the things, big and small, that keep you going. What inspires you to keep moving?
Alison Cuccia is the Program & Research Manager for Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation.
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