Sport & Rec blogger: What I learned from one year of running

In many ways, running is an activity that does not come naturally to me. Before March of last year, I used to joke about how odd it is that people willingly go for runs even though nothing is chasing them. Well, I take back everything I ever said about running, because the pandemic has turned me into a runner. 

Typically, I stay active through hockey and field hockey intramurals as well as weight training. But when the pandemic threw a wrench in my workout plans, I had to get creative. While running was previously something I did a handful of times in the summer, it quickly turned into a year-round activity…and dare I say, a passion. 

During the months in which I began running, I noticed significant improvements in my times. Slowly but surely, I was getting better at covering longer distances in shorter times. I’m still very much in the process of extending my regular distances, and now sit comfortably at the sub-60-minute 10km range. While that time isn’t about to win me the Boston Marathon, it’s a whole lot better than the place I started out in.

Despite the improvements I have noticed in my running, one thing I learned is that while you may get better at running, it doesn’t ever get much easierif it does, I’m still waiting. Each time that I prepare to go for a run, I have to get myself mentally ready for a challenge. On a physical level, the high-impact nature of running has forced me to be much more cognizant of nutrition and rest. 

Though the constant challenge of running can be disheartening, it’s also one of the best parts of being a runner: running involves getting comfortable with discomfort. Of course, there’s a fine line between discomfort and pain, and navigating that line is part of the process of becoming a runner. But once you know how to perform that balancing act, the ritual of repeatedly pushing yourself physically and mentally leads to growth…again, physically and mentally. 

To anyone who is interested in starting running, now is the time! With the weather starting to warm up, running is a great way to enjoy the sun. I encourage you not to get discouraged, because building a relationship with running is a process. Start slow, maybe by running only 2-3 km a couple times a week, and build up in accordance with what your body is telling you. That’s another one I’ve learned the hard way…listen to your body. Don’t be like me and push through a 10km when your legs are aching and your pace is abnormally slow, you’ll regret it (much like I did).

Most importantly though, remember that each person’s relationship with running looks differently. What matters most is finding a way to get outside and get moving in a way that works for you. 

Thinking of taking up running? Check out these tips for beginners from U of T's track coach

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