In 2007 I was 24 years old and the company I then worked for held a "Health Competition". They had different challenges that we competed in over the course of a few weeks. One of the challenges was to run a mile. I have no idea how "fast" I ran that mile, but I know that it took all that I had to run the entire thing and I finished dead last! I can look back with pride that I even had the grit to participate. I wasn't satisfied with my performance and I've never really stopped pushing myself to see how much better I can do.
I clearly remember the first time I ran a 2.2 mile loop without stopping. I was plagued with knee pain and it took days to recover. After I had my first son in 2009 I worked consistently until I was able to run 5 miles. I had my second son in 2012 and that's when things really started to click with me and running. I ran my first half marathon soon after he turned 1.
Running gives me a deep sense of accomplishment, but I can't share my journey as a runner without talking about depression and anxiety as well. These are taboo and usually private topics, but If I could help even one person feel that they are not alone, I'd abandon all inhibitions on this subject. After my first son arrived I suffered from debilitating anxiety. I was a prisoner to my routine. Missing a scheduled nap, having to drive with my baby in the car, being around any kind of "germs" all sent me over the edge. I learned to deal with my anxiety as best I could on my own, but after more than a year I fell into a depression. I gained 30 pounds in less than 2 months and was so frustrated that I couldn't "snap" out of it. I thought if I prayed hard enough, focused on helping others instead of myself, and read my scriptures then I would quit being depressed. None of that worked for me.
I started to see a counselor who worked mostly with eating disorders and I took an anti-depressant for a few months. I slowly started to resurface. Something that stuck out to me from one of my counseling sessions was that regular exercise can do more to boost mood than any medication they can prescribe. I hated the way the medicine made me feel, so I devoted myself to regular exercise. Being a mom on a tight budget, running was the easiest way to get the endorphins flowing.
Now that I feel like I'm on the other side of this trial, I am thankful for what those dark times taught me about myself. Running really did save me. I'm a better mom, wife and overall person now that running is a part of my life.
I don't know if I'll always be a runner, but I do know I'll always chase those good feeling endorphins that only come from pushing yourself and sweating it out.