What if I had never struggled with my weight?
What if I had never felt the downward pull of depression?
For one, I might never have found one of the things in life I am most passionate about. But in the early years I wasn't even sure I liked running—I just wanted to quickly lose weight.
If I could go back in time to help motivate and encourage my non-runner self, I would start with these eight thoughts.
Running is always going to be hard on some level.1 of 9
There isn't some magic fitness level you get to where running suddenly feels easier. Sure, you get faster and can handle longer distances—both mentally and physically—but some days, even an easy 3-mile run feels like an epic battle. In these moments, I like to remind myself of the old adage, "If it was easy, everyone would do it."
How I feel about myself affects how my body reacts.2 of 9
The mind-body connection is real. I repeatedly told myself that I was overweight, not athletic and not capable of doing what others could, which only made it harder for my body to love running. If I had been my biggest cheerleader and encouraged myself instead, maybe it wouldn't have been as much of a struggle in the early years.
Not seeing immediate improvements is okay.3 of 9
While some improvements happened right away, others took time. The moments I wanted to give up for good always happened right before a powerful breakthrough. In a world of instant gratification, running rewards those with patience.
I'm not the only person who feels out of place at a race.4 of 9
It's easy to get caught up in our own minds when we first start running, questioning whether we belong in this sport.
We do belong.
Runners, as a whole, are a pretty awesome group of people who are typically very welcoming.
I look like a runner, no matter what I look like.5 of 9
In my early years of running, I wasted so much time and energy trying to look and dress a certain way that I completely lost what made me stand out as an individual. Running later helped me realize that I am my best self when I am myself.
Insecurities are normal.6 of 9
In running, it's easy to fall into the comparison trap. Even the fastest and fittest runners experience self-doubt at times. It's okay to feel insecure. Lean into it, and come out stronger.
Resting isn't lazy.7 of 9
Resting may come in the form of one day a week off, a week off or maybe a break for an entire month. But these periods of not running are not about being lazy, and it took me years to finally figure that out. We grow both physically and mentally when we rest. We repair the damage done to prepare for the road ahead.
I love running.8 of 9
Above all, I wish I would have known how much I was going to love running before I started. I still have hard days and some years feel more difficult than others, but at the end of the day, I truly LOVE running.
For the first 20 years of my life, I had no clue that doing something as seemingly simple as running would help me discover so much about life and myself.
In fact, when I found running, I still didn't love it. It was hard, and I wasn't good at it.
It wasn't until I truly fell in love with the sport that I was able to take the great runs with the less-than-perfect runs and embrace the best version of myself.