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I started my relationship with running back in my early 20’s. In fact, I remember my first few runs clearly, and I remember my underlying motivation.  You’ve all heard the of the “freshman 15” phenomenon?  Perhaps you’ve experienced it firsthand.  But I didn’t!  I’d say I was more like “freshman 25.”  As my backside grew and my energy waned, I knew something needed to be done.

Enter jogging.

My first attempts were ten seconds of jogging, then a minute of walking for 20 minutes.  Oh the shin splints!  Ice packs and propped legs were a common sight at my house.  I hated running.  Every step I took, my body would scream at me, “Stop, you dolt! You are too weak & lazy for this crap!”  Yet I trudged on.

It didn’t take long at all for me to start seeing my body transform.  I was young and my body adapted quickly.  That was all it took; I was hooked, and I was never the same again.

On this national holiday honoring running, I spent some time reflecting on my very personal relationship with running.  Here are a few of my random thoughts:

It was running that led me here, to create this entire blog.  Running, my new addiction, was the reason I changed my Archaeology major in college to Exercise Science.  Without running, I’d probably be selling Slurpies at 7-Eleven (because how many archaeologist grads actually get jobs?).

It was running that gave me adventures all over the world… running along the ancient Greek walls of Rhodes, participating in a 5k for breast cancer on a cruise ship in the Panama Canal, or stumbling across the hidden American Consulate building while jogging in Curacao (hubby saying to the irritated guard, “can’t we get a pen or something as a souvenir?!?”).

Running has been my therapist and counselor over the years.  I can solve all the world’s problems, and my own, about 20 minutes into every run.  When life gets tough, I gravitate towards my running shoes.  And the greatest part…no bill after my session.

Running empowers me.  Even though it hurts and it’s so, so hard, it makes me feel strong.  It makes me feel younger.  Every birthday, I run for a ridiculous amount of miles, all the while saying, “Stick it, Father Time!”  Having running on my side as I age has made aging, well, fun.  It’s me versus Time.  Running makes me feel like I’m winning.

So!  Today on National Running Day, I’m going out to run my favorite route.  I’m going to run hard and I’m going to be thinking about you.  If you are a runner, I’ll be hoping you run strong today.  If you aren’t a runner, I’ll be hoping you’ll consider giving it a try, even if it’s just 10 seconds.  After all, it’s never too late to unleash your potential.

Happy National Running Day!