Before I became a runner, I had become a fairly decent athlete. I had worked out two solid years lifting weights, conquering the dreaded stairmaster, biking and the elliptical. So I had a good fitness base when I started running that made it easier from that side of it, but extremely difficult since I really wasn’t good at it. As I ran, more and more, I began to realize what an incredibly powerful sport it is.
Running affected me in a way far different from any other athletic activity I had ever tried. It was a powerful drive inside me that fueled me to take on new challenges. It gave me the most joyous feeling when a high would set in. It joined me together with people that I may have never otherwise talked to. The same could not be said for the stairmaster or the elliptical.
I’m a graphic designer and as part of my job, I work with different printers and their reps. Just a few weeks ago, I found out one of my reps is an avid runner. We immediately began bonding over our love for the road. It didn’t matter that he was a far better, faster runner than I was, we were joined together by this sport. We talked for nearly a half an hour about our training, races we’d tried and goals for the future. Today I was speaking with a freelance client, who is in the running industry, but it was still an amazing conversation about the power of this sport and how it changes lives.
We both knew that completing a marathon dramatically changed our lives. We knew what it was like to work hard and cross that finish line. We knew that no matter how bad a day was going, running could fix it, even if it was just a 30 minute jog. It is seriously amazing how this one sport that anyone with a pair of sneakers can do, can changes so many lives and join so many different people together.
Tonight I watched last night’s episode of the Biggest Loser. At the end of each season, contestants compete in a marathon. Completing a marathon is a monumental achievement no matter who does it, but seeing people who were 300 and 400 pounds do it just 5 months later is even more inspiring. I remember when I was overweight and couldn’t walk after my foot surgery, I watched the Biggest Loser marathons. I used to cry at the end when they finished as I longed to do the same. I was sad that I couldn’t run and sad about the state I was in with my weight.
After I initially lost weight and watched the episodes, I still cried because although I was thin, I couldn’t do what they did. The funny thing is that I had never had the desire to run a marathon until someone told me I couldn’t. Then one day I began to run. And today, I watched the episode as a marathon finisher. I still cried at the end, not because I was sad, but because I knew what immense joy those people were feeling and that no one would ever quite get it unless they’ve done a marathon too.
To share that bond with people I have never met shows the power of this fantastic sport. No matter what your body type or where you’re at in life, nearly everyone can run at least a little. So, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. Feel the power of running and use it to change your life.