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How Running Helped Me Turn My Life Around

The benefits of a running journey of someone who couldn’t spend five minutes on a treadmill and became a marathon finisher

Crossing the finish line at TCS New York City Marathon 2018
Crossing the finish line at TCS New York City Marathon 2018

I’ve never been an athlete. Aside from excelling at all academic disciplines at school, my main goal was to avoid PE at all costs. In my twenties, I went for an occasional yoga or Zumba class, but that was really the summary of all of my athletic accomplishments. I looked at my coworkers who were hitting the gym or boot camp classes twice a day in disbelief, secretly thinking they were crazy.

That was until the end of 2016, when I got unexpectedly laid off, a month after my wedding and honeymoon and a month before the holiday season kicked off. The odds of getting a new job soon were not in my favor and dark thoughts of not being good enough stared to creep slowly through my mind, letting my self-esteem plummet. I was feeling quite depressed but pushed myself to go and cheer for the TCS NYC Marathon runners as the course was going through a close-by neighborhood.

I got great vibes and phenomenal energy from all of the runners, smiling, applauding and high-fiving for what seemed like countless time. Not a runner myself, I thought that maybe I could give running a shot, just to try, just to use my neglected gym membership and see where it takes me. The runners at TCS NYC Marathon came in all ages, sizes and body shapes, so my non-athletic build was not an excuse.

And so I tried. I went to my local gym the next morning and got on a treadmill. I was out of breath by minute five, but I slowed down, walked for a bit and then resumed. I came back the next day with intent to last a few minutes longer. By the end of two weeks, I could run for 30 minutes. Of course, I stopped from time to time and kept my speed pretty low, but for someone who could never run for more than five minutes, 30 was a huge success.

While I saw that my body started to look more toned, I also noticed that my negative thoughts were not as frequent and not even as negative. I wasn’t accomplishing projects at the office, but I was achieving something for myself, getting my body and mind on track.

I was growing stronger and more confident on a treadmill and it sparked a thought – what if I could set a running goal and sign up for my first-ever race? The first race I signed up for was Shape Women’s Half Marathon and it was coming up in just four months. There was a lot of training to be done and a lot of smaller races that came in between, but I had my eyes of the prize, or rather a finisher medal, so I was working hard to build my endurance toward it.

In the meantime, I was able to secure a few freelance projects that were fantastic – I enjoyed working on them, they brought me good income, and, mostly importantly,   gave me time to workout in preparation for the big race. Also, when I was going for interviews, I started to feel very confident in my abilities, experience and skills. I’ve been getting great feedback and progressed to final rounds with some companies. My thoughts turned positive; I started to feel empowered and strong enough to take on new challenges.

I got my full-time job offer at my dream company just a couple of weeks before the half-marathon. Although I got an injury from overtraining right before the race, I still went for it and still finished within my target time. My first day at my new job was the next day!

After Shape Women’s Half Marathon, I completed a few more races, granting me guaranteed access to TCS New York City Marathon 2018. Today, I am proud to share that I finished the marathon within my target time (under five hours) a few months ago, in November.

I still have a long running journey ahead of me – I’d love to work on my speed, on my technique and an athlete in me dreams of running a marathon outside of the US. But regardless of where I may be in the journey, running gives me confidence that I can do anything I set my mind to, that nothing is impossible. I know that with the help of just a few runs a week, whether on a treadmill or on a trail, I can look and feel my best and that this confidence message is sent out into the universe to help me accomplish bigger and greater things in other areas of my life.

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