Ran the Run: A Love Story
May 2, 2012 § 2 Comments
When I stepped foot into my somewhat health-obsessed university in Virginia 5 years ago, I was genuinely shocked to learn that people ran as a hobby – even more bewildered that people actually enjoyed it! None of my family or close friends ever just…ran. Running belonged in high school gym class and my worst nightmares. I automatically assumed that people who ran were athletes. It’s boring. And exhausting. No one in their right mind would want to run when they can sit around and eat cookies.
It’s safe to say that my stance on running has change drastically since then. I ran my first official 6k this past weekend at the 2012 Nike Be Amazing Run! It took a while, but I’m so thrilled to have made it through that god-awful journey to get where I am now.
I started running in college, strangely inspired by all the gung-ho runners around me. Mostly, I was just curious why people enjoyed running. I wanted to feel what they were feeling, that mythical “runner’s high”. Sadly, I never got to that euphoric stage and hovered around the fatigue stage. Running for about 20 mins on the treadmill was my limit and I gladly jumped off and opted for the more favorable elliptical next door. I NEVER attempted to run outside, even though I went to a school with one of the most beautiful campus in the Nation. It was too much pressure with all the runners around.
Graduation came and went, and unemployment settled in like a huge zit that wouldn’t go away. Like all the other fresh graduates trying to find employment, I dutifully put in my hours each day, mindlessly sending resumes to company after company, just hoping for any response. The helplessness, the self-doubt and the negativity spread like a deadly virus.
That’s when I started to run. I ran to get out of the house. I ran to kill time. I ran to keep myself busy. I ran as a challenge. It was a personal goal, something that I could accomplish on my own. Running slowly morphed into a habit, and something I looked forward to each day. It felt great to be outside, and not hunched in front of my laptop trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting any response from any potential employers. I didn’t record my time or distance but I felt free and relieved whenever I ran. I think that’s why so many people run, overcoming the physical challenges in exchange for the liberated sensation that you get from within.
Shortly after moving back to Taiwan, I fell out of my running habits. In a country where the females avoid the sun like the plague, running on the streets of Taipei can actually draw more attention than a flamboyantly gay couple making-out in public (Taipei is actually one of the most gay friendly cities I have ever lived!). Unless you live on the outskirts of city, there aren’t many trails or sidewalks. Local schools are equip with tracks, but are often flooded with tiny grandma’s and middle-age couples walking around the tracks. Paired with a busy working schedule, I ran a lot less and made no effort to start again.
It’s great to see companies like Nike throwing events like this all girl 6k/10k run to encourage girls to get exercising. This event is unique to Asia, starting only last year in select cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul. The exercising culture is very different here and many girls can get very self conscious about going to the gym or working out. There are quite a few female-only gyms in Taipei, creating a safe haven for girls to workout without the company of their male counterparts. All girl runs share that same idea that girls would be more comfortable and willing to exercise in a same-sex environment.
Nike has a running club that holds weekly runs in the city; I managed to attend once before running the 6k. The warm-up was led by a middle-age woman that didn’t have an ounce of body fat and looked like she could kick some serious ass. The exercises looked simple but I couldn’t feel my legs after the 20 min warm-up. The worst part about running with a large group of people was either getting stuck by a wall of very slow runners or constantly being overtaken by faster runners. The biggest challenge for me was learning not to care about the people around you; they don’t really matter. Once you realize and accept that the only pressure is coming from the pressure you’re giving yourself, you can really loosen up and enjoy the run.
I had some death flu and a lingering cough last week but I did it! Along with 6000 other beautiful woman, each happily accomplishing something that they probably didn’t think they could do a few months ago.
It was glorious