I love running. I love trails, long distances, and the feeling you have when everything just clicks.
But I didn’t start out this way. I grew up swimming and playing water polo, both of which I did competitively through university. Running was always a special form of torture; in high school, running a mile was actually punishment if we showed up late to water polo practice (and I made a point never to be late).
So how did I get here?
Set a goal
I only started running in my mid-twenties, when I needed a cheap, convenient way to workout. I blindly signed up for a half marathon and followed the “couch potato to half marathon” training program online. I had no clue what I was doing, but I stuck to the plan and slowly built my mileage.
I didn’t run every workout. In fact, I physically couldn’t. I was living in New York and usually trained in Central Park after work, but I couldn’t finish the full 6 mile loop. Each day, I would push myself a little bit farther on the path and then walk the rest of the way. It took weeks, but little by little I built the endurance to run the whole loop. I literally went out to dinner to celebrate.
Find what you love
When it came time for my first race--the half marathon--I was able to finish, but I hated every minute of it and swore I would never do it again. Then, I watched a movie about trail running and ultras. I liked the idea of spending all day out in nature and going at whatever pace I felt like. I signed up for a 50K (which was a total disaster and through a blizzard), but was immediately hooked.
With Strava and social media, there can be a lot of pressure to go far, be fast, get crowns, etc. The only thing that matters is that you are having fun, being healthy (mentally and physically), and trying to improve yourself. If you don’t like a certain race or event, try something else. We’re lucky to have so many different distances, trails, and events to experience.
It’s funny to think about what used to be torture now brings me such joy. It took me years to get here and I’m still learning! I don’t know if I’ll ever think of myself as a runner; at my core, I’m still a swimmer and water polo player, but if I can go from a water-loving couch potato to an Asia Trail Girl, anyone can.
If anyone wants any tips on how to get started, or just wants to go for a fun run or hike, let me know!