It’s a common theme among the running community: ask almost any runner how they got started with the sport and many times the response will start with something like, “Well actually, I used to hate running…”
I myself am even guilty of this cliché.
The lesson to be learned from it, though, is that when you’re just starting out, running kind of sucks. It sucks enough to sincerely make you believe that there’s no way it could ever be enjoyable.
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a total exercise enthusiast or a couch potato on a mission to get in shape: if you’re new to running, it’s probably going to beat you up a bit.
All of the runners who shared their stories below know this all too well. And whether you’re currently a beginner (more on par with an Ann Perkins' level of enthusiasm for running) in need of some encouragement, or even if you’re a veteran looking for a motivational spark, you’ll find inspiration in their heartfelt and enthusiastic words.
• "I run because it helps me to clear my head of any worries that I may have been carrying throughout the day. For those 30 to 60 minutes, I feel completely in control and able to focus. There is seriously nothing like it :)" —Tumblr/thebeautydiary-world
• "I have been overweight my entire life, so running was my ultimate fear. I was horrified at the idea of someone seeing me run, I cringed at the thought of putting so much pressure on my knees, and the thought of the pain I’d feel in my chest gave me nightmares. That being said, I had to do it. I knew that if I could conquer my fear of running, I could do anything. Running has opened a lot of doors for me, both physically and mentally. I lost 90 pounds and gained an 'I’m a badass' attitude. I run 5k every morning and it allows me that 'I can take over the world' feeling that I love to start my day with. I love the burn. I really fell in love with running." —Melanie
• "I started running for my health, and kept running for my sanity. The peaceful feeling I feel after I run makes it all worth it." —Leanne
• "I ran all through college short distances like three to five miles. Now that I’m approaching 30 and had my son I’ve gone onto half marathons for the 'me' time. My Saturday long runs are so relaxing and the time I get to unwind!" —Tumblr, pinkspinning
• "I always thought that running was one of the worst things—it was used as 'punishment' during basketball practice and the hill intervals I was forced to do during off season were just terrible. No one was more surprised than me when I, 10 years later in life, suddenly got out for a run. After struggling with depression and anxiety for years, I was watching my dad train for his annual marathon and I was so inspired I thought 'Why not give it a go?' So I did. And I loved it!
So why do I run? I run, because without running I feel lost. I run because it is my meditation, my therapy and my precious me-time. But it is also my biggest passion, pure joy, a way for myself to see my own strengths (which I didn't think I had), and a great way to explore my surroundings wherever I go in the world. To me, running was the answer to the question I asked myself too many times while struggling with my depression: 'Why?'" —Evelin.
• "It makes me feel free, stress-free. I feel like I’m soaring and everybody is a blur when I pass them. I feel happy when people are amazed at how fast and far I can run. I feel on top of the world. So to sum it up, I’m a better person when I run." —Larissa
• "I thought running would help me run away from my problems but it actually made me face them and run at them head on!"
• "I lived in Boston for college, and watched the 2008 Boston Marathon finish at mile 26. I saw as the elites crossed the finish line and was immediately in love with running. I set out to run the next day and there have been challenges but I love it." —Kate
• "I run because there was a time when I couldn’t, and I don’t want to take my ability for granted." —Tumblr/runningforbiscuits
• "I started running with my dad when I was seven. [I] stopped when he passed away when I was 13. [I] picked it back up again after college. I run because I feel like it’s my way of staying connected to him :)" —Tumblr/love2befit