From Hate to Love: Repairing My Broken Relationship with Running

I always hated running.

The side aches, the heavy breathing, that weird spit that builds up in your throat, the soreness in your legs, the voice inside your head telling you to quit. I hated everything about running.

I first discovered my hatred of running in elementary school, when we were forced to run one mile as part of the yearly fitness test. This was absolute torture to me — because 1] I wanted to play four square instead + 2] one mile felt like forever.

In junior high, I made myself join the track + field team because I thought that maybe it would change my mind about running. Maybe seeing how much my athletic friends loved running would give me a new perspective, or maybe the competition + adrenaline of track meets would spark my passion for running.

I was wrong about all of that. Seeing my athletic friends excel at their 100-meter dashes or 800-meter relays was discouraging. I envied them + their abilities, + wondered why I wasn’t as *good* as they were. Track meets gave me the worst anxiety, + not just because I was scared of the sound of the gun firing right before every race. It was because I actually hated the competition. It wasn’t a good adrenaline rush for me. I never won any races or broke any record times. I was embarrassed to even participate in any of my events. So, ironically, joining the track team made me hate running even more.

I went four years without running after that — marching band was my sole form of exercise during those years [I think I owe my calf muscles to all the backwards marching I had to do]. It wasn’t until college that I decided to give it another try — mostly because I was falling victim to the infamous *freshman 15*. My first mistake was thinking that running was going to solve that problem. Running became my punishment for gaining weight. I forced myself to run every single day without realizing the importance of also using weights, changing my diet + having positive body image. I would look in the mirror + scold myself for gaining the weight that I had, for having no self-control when it came to food, for not looking like the women with perfect figures in the pictures I had pinned to my *fitspiration* Pinterest board.

I hated myself for *letting myself go* + for not looking like the 110-pound girl that I was all through high school. More than anything, I was frustrated + mentally exhausted from what seemed like a never-ending cycle of negative thoughts. I used to joke that running was torture to me because of the physical pain I sometimes felt when I got side aches or when I couldn’t control my breathing. But at this point in my life, it wasn’t a joke anymore — it was mentally + emotionally torturing me.

It tortured me to the point where I gave up again. I wasn’t getting skinner. I wasn’t feeling better about myself. I wasn’t 110 pounds of skin + bones again. What was the point? To me, there was none. So I quit.

For the next two years, I rarely ran or worked out, but I started shedding some of the weight I had put on because I changed my diet. I was happier with myself, but I knew something was missing.

+ then I found CHAARG.

My negative mentality about running//fitness//health had grown more + more severe over the years, + I didn’t even realize it, until I learned about CHAARG. I was hesitant to join because of this. Because I didn’t want to feel incompetent compared to all of these confident + strong women who knew how to take care of their bodies. I wasn’t one of them, + I knew I didn’t feel ready to jump head-first into CHAARG. But I knew I was ready to let CHAARG help me try. For all of fall semester last year, I followed along as CHAARG posted workouts + inspiration on Instagram, Twitter + Facebook. I stayed on the outside looking in at all of these incredible women who had truly *found their fit* in this organization.

For those few months during fall semester, I began trying different workouts, using weights + not focusing on running. When I realized that fitness + health mean so much more than being *skinny*, I felt free. CHAARG didn’t just liberate me from the elliptical + treadmill — it liberated me from myself + from all of the brutally negative things I had thought about myself.

Once I finally joined the movement, I already felt stronger — physically, mentally, + emotionally. I felt strong enough to not let my insecurities define me, strong enough to know that I was not confined to the treadmill, + strong enough to believe that I was worth more than the weight I had gained. I read every post on the CHAARG blog about running — about falling in love with running, + why running is so great. Two years ago, I would have never believed any of it. But thanks to CHAARG, I stopped letting myself be tortured by the idea of running.

I stepped away from the treadmill + began running outside, all around campus, exploring new trails. I did not want my runs to be defined by the number of miles or minutes. Since then, every run I’ve gone on has been a liberating experience. A chance for me to clear my head, rather than fill it with personal insults, to see + appreciate the world around me, ++ to continually work toward repairing my broken relationship with running.

++ now, I truly do love it. I love all of it: the side aches, the heavy breathing, that weird spit that builds up in your throat, the soreness of your legs, the voice inside your head telling you to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I love everything about running.

+ Christina [@christi_inchaarg]

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