My On-Again/Off-Again Relationship with Running

In 2014, I decided to get off my butt and start getting in shape. I’ve never been one to worry too much about body image, but I knew that if I kept up my lifestyle (of ketchup chips and McDonalds, that hasn’t changed) without activity, I’d be regretful in the future—and so, my hate for running was born.

Fast forward to 2016. My work at lululemon launched me into the run community, introducing me to run clubs (some would argue, cults) that meet every week, rain or shine, heatwave or blizzard. It forced me to lace up and see what this community was all about. I couldn’t understand why adults, with varying lives, careers, and children, were so eager to meet on weeknights, to run.

Last weekend, I ran my first half marathon (the decision to sign up was impulsive and I was hoping the friend who ran it with me would eventually forget and never bring it up again, that didn’t happen). The two months leading up to the race, I think I clocked in, maybe, 10 runs (I’m being generous), with the longest run being 8km (fact). I did not train. I’m not bragging, but emphasizing how much I hated running. Leading up to the race, I tried thinking of every excuse to back out—maybe I’d get sick or hurt my ankle, maybe there would be a family emergency, anything to get me out of running this race.

It wasn’t my fear of not finishing, but the embarrassment of how slow my very able body would take to complete the race that had me wanting to quit. And also dreading the thought of running for two and a half hours, if not longer. Running was always boring, and I never had any motivation or mental desire to keep going.

Cue race day. I was well hydrated, well fed, I stretched, and was running on adrenaline. I was excited to get this over with and say ‘hey, I did it,’ no matter the time. The entire run was a blur. I’m pretty sure I blacked out because there are full kilometres I can’t remember.

What I do remember is how full my heart felt running passed groups of cheer squads reading the name off my bib and encouraging me to keep going. I remember somehow making it to 18km and realizing how sore my knees and ankles were and wanting to stop, but turning a corner to a roar of cheering from the lululemon, Parkdale Road Runners, and Nike Run Club stations that somehow having the most fun, watching—just watching, people they don’t even know, run by. There was confetti, high-fives, so much yelling, and an infectious energy that couldn’t stop you from smiling. It was at then that I found new meaning in that word: community.

This is what running now means to me.

Two years ago, I ran the Nike Women’s 15k on the Toronto Islands. It took me 1 hour and 49 minutes to complete.

This year, I ran my first Scotiabank Half Marathon in 2 hours and 2 minutes.

I still hate running (alone).

Check out your local Toronto run crews:

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