By Rachel Leah Gerson

Photography by Brooke Rosenblum

A Healthy Escape

People look at me funny when I say I like to run. I understand why. I used to hate running, but I did it anyway (sometimes, when I could motivate myself to, like, one week out of the year… maybe). And now I love it.

So what changed?

Two things:

1) I got myself a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes, which made me feel like I was running barefoot, because I found that I love doing that and hate the feel of clunky running shoes. So if you, too, find it hard to tie your laces, you might want to look into these. They are expensive, but sooooo worth it!!

2) I changed my reason for running.

When I first started running, it was because I lived in LA. And in LA, a 14-year-old girl who is a woman’s size 2 (5’4” and 120lbs) is apparently considered ‘fat’. So I ran to get fit and loose weight. And while for some people that is enough of a motivation to be able to get up an hour earlier, get their gear on, and jet out the door, it just simply was not enough for me, and I know for a fact that it is not enough for most people. Especially after one moves away to boarding school in Northern Michigan at age 16 to eat nothing but cafeteria food for two years.

I honestly stopped caring about my weight because there wasn’t really any pressure on me to lose it anymore. In fact, I gained 40 lbs, and I didn’t care! And when I got to college a few years ago at size 12, I still didn’t care. Actually, I felt sexier in my newfound weight than I had as a skinny-mini with no butt.

So why, then, did I start running again?

My freshmen year of college, I was in an incredibly abusive friendship. My anxiety and paranoia spiked, and I had trust issues galore. And all I wanted to do, even after everything was over, was run away. So I went out to the woods, tore my shoes off, and ran barefoot for an hour and a half. I didn’t care about the dirt or the sticks or anything. I couldn’t even feel them. I. Just. Ran. And it felt so good! Because even though I wasn’t actually running away from everything, I was for a bit. And the more I thought about it, the harder I ran.

My lesson?

Use anger as a motivation.

When you think about something that makes you angry or scared, it actually kicks your “fight or flight” instinct into gear, shooting adrenaline through your body and making it easier, more fun, and more gratifying to run, both emotionally and physically! Psychologically, by doing so, when you are done with your run you actually walk away feeling as though you’ve worked some of your problems or feelings out.

Not only are you giving your heart and body a workout, you are also liberating yourself from your problems by consciously focusing on them, and then physically and metaphorically choosing to run away from them.

–Just remember to stretch, after!

 

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