When I was six years old I had an asthma attack that almost killed me. My parents didn't know what was happening to me. They thought I had a cold or some such thing until one day it became obvious I could not breathe. They took me to the hospital where I was given several shots until my bronchial tubes started to open up. I was later diagnosed with childhood asthma (which I later learned was merely triggered by my parent's smoking). For years I thought that meant that I was handicapped in some way. Although I was a competitive dancer (imagine Bring it On without the gymnastics), for some reason, I thought that meant I couldn't run.
I remember as part of our dance practice we were supposed to run a mile. I didn't think I could do it, so therefore I couldn't do it. Then one day I got sick of being at the back of the pack. I started running on my own on the weekends and realized that I could actually do it, I could run. After years of thinking I couldn't do that, I realized I could.
During college I ran a little bit, but I did more dancing and aerobics. In my early years in New York, walking was my exercise of choice. It wasn't until four years ago that I started to run, and it wasn't until last year that I did any distance over a 10K. Over the past five years I have worked in financial services where things have been chaos to say the least. I remember walking off of one race after running half a mile because I knew my CEO was waiting for me at work. I couldn't focus and decided to just give up on the race.
But, last year I made a commitment to do the 1/2 marathon and despite the craziness I committed to training. Even though my training was not perfect, and I got behind, I stuck with it. The amazing thing about it was that people in my life began to comment on the radical change in me. The changes were not physical, they were changes in my behavior, my moods, my mental clarity and in my optimism. They told me my positivity and my smile were contagious.
I was always a personable and open person, but I now realized that I was much more than that - I was a change agent and I could spread little pieces of positivity like a virus.
I read my sister's posts and see the way that she is helping other people realize this about themselves and it brings an even brighter smile to my face. I see so much pain around me everyday, but I realize how much of it is self-imposed - people focusing on the negative instead of focusing on what they do have. I'm not sure why, but for me running helps me focus on the positive. It pumps me with endorphins that radically change my perspective on life.
In the dark days of last fall and winter I am almost certain running saved my life. I am not the best, the fastest, and even sometimes I skip out on runs because life gets in the way, but I run. And, when I run, I imagine myself as a gazelle who traverses the savannas of Africa in the warm sunlight....I imagine that I can fly. That feeling reminds me of being a child full of wonder and hope which makes all this adult stuff seem so insignificant.
So, Sweaters, I'm not an advocate of being didactic, or telling others what to do, but I am an advocate of leading by example. Share your smiles, share your stories about the joys of running and just watch what you can do.
If you have an inspirational story, please comment by clicking on the comment link to the right above, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adventuresses in healthy living.