A few people have asked me how I became a runner and more importantly how I learned to love running. I guess lacing up your sneakers and running for three hours is not everyone’s idea of a good time? Well, running wasn’t always my favorite hobby, and I definitely never considered long distance running a possibility.

While I ran a bit in high school, I really started up again when my college roommate was running the trails around Ohio State, and I asked her if I could join her one day. I had decided to graduate the spring quarter of our junior year of college, so my course load was heavy that third year. I needed something to help get my mind off of all the what ifs. What if I fail a class; What if I don’t find a job; What if I regret leaving college earlier than all of my friends?

So we ran together. We only went about 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back a few times a week, but it was enough to get me started. In fact, it was the perfect distance, because I knew I could do it, but I still felt challenged. Because I was running with someone else, I never wanted to stop and walk or hold her back in any way. She also kept me accountable. It’s hard to say, “I would rather sit on the couch and eat chips and queso” when someone asks you to go for a nice run outside. Or at least it was hard for me.

In the winter of 2011, I moved to New York and later that Spring, I suffered a small tendon injury in my leg that kept me from running. It was during that time in Physical Therapy that I learned about the importance of strength training and was more determined than ever to get back in the game. I moved back to NJ the summer of 2011, and that was the summer I signed up for my first 5K race and fell in love.

What keeps me running?

Running is cheaper than therapy! I tell people this constantly. There is nothing that makes me feel healthier mind, body, and soul than a nice sweat session out in the woods amongst the trees, creeks and animals. I often call my runs “church 2.0.” I spend a lot of time talking with God about life while running. Whenever I have a rough day, a long run (preferably outside in nature), solves my problems. It definitely is not the answer for everyone (and if you’re feeling depressed, please reach out for help), but it works for me.

So you want to start running?

First off, hooray! Running is such a wonderful sport, and I promise if you stick with it through the “I’m going to die” moments (we all have them!), it will become easier. The main thing to realize is that you’re not going to go out and run ten miles on your first run – you may not run one mile. But I can tell you that you can run one lap around a track, or down the block, or around the corner. Alternate between walking and running. Find a point, whether it be the next mailbox or the house at the end of the block or the tree up the hill, and tell yourself that you will run to that point. Once there, if you feel awesome, keep going. If you feel miserable, walk. And very soon you will see that you can go a little farther each time you try. That’s the other great thing about running – seeing improvements. Just make sure you go slow and short to start – too much too soon leads to injury.

Disclaimer: Please check with your doctor before starting any fitness routine.