Remember when we were required by the state to run the mile in PE as kids? Well, I sure do, and I absolutely hated it. From the very first time in middle school when I was forced to run around in circles and timed for how fast I ran (similarly to a lab rat), I have always hated running. I hated getting sweaty, the stitch in my side that always seemed to occur after only running one measly lap, and the humiliation of not being able to run an 8 minute mile like the rest of the “fit” kids.
Let’s keep in mind, I have never been overweight in my life. People are often shocked that I only started being active within the past couple of months. They would be even more shocked after discovering that until very recently, I had never ran a mile without stopping in my life. Yup, that’s right. Ya girl would take breaks, and lots of them. I would even “forget” my PE clothes some days and refused to wear the humiliating set of loaned clothes that the school provided, with the word “LOANER” plastered in yellow on the front of the shirt, just so I could sit out of running the mile.
For years, I would look at girls running outside, with their high ponytails swinging, bright running shorts, and Nikes, and I would envy them. I wish I was like her, was something I would say to myself every time a “runner” would pass by me. I used to give others the excuse that I was simply, “not good at running.” But what really makes someone “good” at running? Is it the speed? Is it the form? Or is it the endurance?
One day, I realized that the answer is, you. You are what makes YOU good at running. YOU decide what you are good at. Yes, some are blessed and extremely talented, but for those that are lacking certain natural-born skills, we have to be dedicated, hardworking, and passionate (which are honestly talents in themselves that not everyone has).
I started looking on Pinterest for running tips, literally typing in “How to run a mile for beginners”. I came across an article, in which a woman talked about running 365 miles in a year. Intrigued, I learned that she racked up most of her miles by completing marathons, triathlons, and races. I remember feeling amazed and honestly a little annoyed at her ambition. However, towards the end of the year, she described feeling uninspired and no longer had the motivation to run. One day, she came across an article, that suggested running one mile a day every day until the holidays were over. She realized that running a mile each day helped her stay consistent and on track with her running and before she knew it, she had completed her 365 miles.
Not at all interested in participating in marathons or running 365 miles in a year, I then Googled “run a mile every day” (thank goodness for Google honestly). I came across a man’s blog post that also discussed running 365 miles in a year (damn you overachievers!), but he completed his challenge by running one mile, every day, for the entire year. He said that when he mentioned his challenge to his friends, many criticized him or asked, “Why only a mile?” He then explained that it was not about how far, or how fast he ran. It was about getting his ass up out of bed every day and running a mile, no excuses. He even described being stuck at an airport and running around the terminals until he completed a mile, just so he would not miss a day.
Inspired by these two strangers’ stories, I created my own challenge: Run at least one mile every day for 30 days—an attainable, very doable goal. That meant from September 1st to September 30th I participated in an activity that I wasn’t just “not a fan of”, I truly hated it. This challenge was about more than running, or losing weight. This running challenge tested my dedication and commitment. It is very easy to spend every day doing something you love, but can you honestly say you would not struggle doing something you hated every day, for 30 days?
So, that’s what I did. I ran. I struggled. And then I ran some more.
I ran early in the morning, late at night, in the cold, in the blistering heat (bipolar bay area weather), in the dark, in the blinding sun sans sunglasses, with music, without music, on the treadmill, outside, tired, energized, hungry, way too full, happy, sad, frustrated, pissed off . . .
I ran a mile for the first time in my life. Then I ran 2 miles for the first time. Then it was 3.2 miles. Each little milestone was a major accomplishment for me. No matter what my feelings may have been earlier in the day, once I completed my mile, I felt indescribably proud of myself. This running challenge was the first thing I have ever done for me. I wasn’t doing it for a medal, or recognition, or to impress anybody but myself.
As the month went on, I documented my progress on my Instagram story and the amount of DMs and text messages I received about how my running journey inspired my friends to start running made me want to cry from happiness. It was unbelievable to me that I could change someone’s mindset just from leading by example. The kind words and support from my friends, and even some strangers, motivated me to complete my challenge and it is what kept me going on the days I wanted to call it quits.
At the end of 30 days, I was able to turn a weakness, into a strength.
So, I now have a challenge for you. I challenge you to do something you don’t particularly like or you are not good at, but have always wished you were, and just go for it. Set attainable goals, but immerse yourself in the struggle and come out the badass person you always knew you were. Even if you don’t believe in yourself, remember that it takes one decision to change your whole life. I hope my challenge inspires you to recognize the strength within yourself that has always been be there.
I believe in you.