How Running Saved My Life (and how it can save yours, too)

I’ve always hated two things on a fairly equal basis for as long as I can remember: raw onions (something about the texture…that godforsaken crunch) and running. While even today at 30 years old, the thought of biting into a raw onion is one that induces my gag reflex, the same can no longer be said about running. Something as simple as lacing up a pair of Asics and tuning into a playlist featuring the likes of Gaga and Metallica was all I needed to “find myself” or whatever cliché life affirmative “ah ha!” moment you want to utilize in this scenario. 

Let me back up, though. This didn’t just magically happen. Like most everything else in life that can be regarded as notable or worthy of writing a blog that strangers are going to read and judge, there’s something more behind this revelation. There is heartbreak. There is disillusionment. There is that gut wrenching feeling associated with waking up one day unable to recognize your own skin, when the eyes staring back at you in the mirror aren’t your own, they’re mere shadows of what was once in that reflection. 

So unfortunately, yes, this began because of a guy. I’d like to think that something I found to be so life-changing was completely mine and mine alone, but that would partially be a lie. I fell in love for the first time. I savored it, reveled in loving someone who was just as equally intoxicated with loving me. I worked hard at it, really fucking hard but ultimately failed miserably and lost my best friend. 

So it goes. Life must go on and while time really does heal everything, the closest thing I found to a fast forward button was found between the soles of my running shoes and the cold hard pavement. 

At first it was a struggle. Not only to get out of bed and to control the bouts of crying that are often associated with coming to terms with reality, but also to get back out there and live for myself again. That being said, once you get past the preliminary stages of denial and depression, there’s a small window of opportunity that I encourage you to not pass up. Some might say this isn’t healthy and maybe it’s not, but for me it was. I’m talking about anger, that kind of unbridled anger that doesn’t even have to be directed at a person but at a situation in general. I used that fuel and made it work for me. Anger that was pointed at my failures, at my shortcomings, at my body for wanting to give up before I reached my first mile. I harnessed that energy and made it work for me until I got to a point where I wasn’t running because I was angry anymore, I was running because I was free. Free of the things in my life that no longer served or grew me as a person. Freedom from holding onto something that was gone and was never going to come back. Freedom to be the person I always wanted to be and always knew I could be, but had forgotten along the way. 

So Ladygang, I’m talking to those of you who might have lost yourself. To those of you who might have been left behind, to those of you who might not know where to start along a path that leads to finding peace within yourself. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. It won’t happen overnight but hey, one day you might wake up 20 lbs lighter, a hell of a lot healthier (physically AND mentally) and you’ll be grateful for all of the pain that made you into the BOSS that you are today. 

For those of you who prefer the clifnotes version, here’s my simple guide to running:
1. Experience something unpleasant (this part is easy)
2. Buy a pair of REALLY GOOD RUNNING SHOES (Asics, Brooks, even some Nikes)
3. Create a playlist including anything that makes you feel like you can Yonce out on the world (Think “Eye of the Tiger”, Run the Jewels, Jay Z, Britney, and especially Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”)
4. Start small. Force yourself to complete a qtr mile without stopping...a week later, go for a half mile...keep working your way up until you’re not even counting the seconds until you can walk and get a break but somehow you’ve hit your 3rd mile (TRUST ME IT WILL HAPPEN AND WHEN IT DOES, IT IS EUPHORIC)
5. Keep going. Even when you start dating again or are a self-identifying fulfilled happy person without a care in the world, remember that part of that is bc you’re doing something like this for yourself. If you’re running to lose weight, it will take forever. It took me 2 months to notice any slight changes, but once you do see those, you’ll become addicted to looking and feeling the best you ever have. By the time it happens, you’re more than likely to be over whatever caused you to start running in the first place, so double bonus!
6. Remember to be nice to yourself when life happens and you fall off schedule. Just get back up and keep going. Just always keep going.