My One Year Runniversary

Despite the fact that I played lacrosse for a few years back in middle school, I never considered myself particularly athletic and generally viewed sports with disdain. I was that chubby little kid who huffed and puffed and ran the mile in 11 minutes in fifth grade PE. In my second year of playing for Annandale's youth lacrosse B team, I had a somewhat unorthodox young coach who seemed to take sadistic pleasure in his team's suffering, making us run laps and hills well past the point of exhaustion. At first I hated him, but Grant Bartlett had a strange sort of charisma about him that quickly won me over. I developed a close relationship with him, learning to push through the pain and fatigue and finishing those brutal hills at the end of every practice.

Unfortunately, after that year I never saw Coach Grant again, and the discipline I gained under his tutelage quickly dissipated. I went back to being lazy and unathletic, taking the path of least resistance in order to satisfy the mandatory sport requirement of the private institution I attended from sixth grade through the end of high school. Going into college, I was as flabby and out of shape as ever. In the summer before my sophomore year, I put in some extra special effort and mustered a 13 day running streak, running just shy of 1.5 miles each day. That fall, I even took advantage of the elliptical and bike machines at the gym, but my motivation soon petered out and I stopped going, gaining back the pounds I had shed within a couple of months. In the following years, I made a few more feeble attempts at fitness, but I never really managed to get back on the horse until last summer.

What made me overcome my aversion to physical exercise and work towards becoming more fit than I've ever been in my whole life? The answer is painfully simple: I got a girlfriend. One day, while we were sitting in a Starbucks before our summer classes began, she started talking about her glory days of running track in high school, speaking with striking fervor and excitement. That experience left an impression on me, making me feel like a lazy slob and motivating me to give running another chance. The evening of July 10, a Tuesday, I kicked off a running regimen of two 1.25 mile runs a day, braving the summer heat and humidity and making myself intensely miserable in the process. 

I had hoped that my efforts would help me build rapport with my girlfriend, but I was frustrated to see that she didn't seem to care much about all the trouble I had gone to in order to impress her. All she did was caution me against running too much, advising that I do not follow through with my plans to run every single day of the week, lest I "burn out" from overexertion. Most people would have heeded the advice, because there is indeed merit to the notion of taking rest days every once in a while, but I am not most people. As an INTP, I can be very stubborn under the right circumstances, which happen to include those times when people tell me that I can't do something. Incensed, I took it upon myself to demonstrate to her and to myself that, despite my history of struggling with physical exercise, I could certainly embark on an epic running streak if I really wanted to do so.

Although my girlfriend broke up with me last October, right around our four month anniversary, I used the ensuing heartbreak and anguish to my advantage, digging in and stepping up my running game. At the time of the breakup, the farthest I had ever run was 6.3 miles, way back in June 2011 (running is an overly generous term, since I was hardly moving faster than walking speed after the first couple of miles). In the following months, I proceeded to push my limits and run farther than I ever thought I could. In November, I upped my distance record to just shy of 10 miles. Then, in December, I ran 14.5 miles, surpassing the distance of a half marathon. Finally, I participated in Strava's Marathon Training Series this past spring, running a half marathon in February, 20 miles in March, and a full marathon in April. 

Despite the strain that these long distances put on my body, I categorically refused to take even a single day off, remaining dedicated to my running streak, which as of today is 366 consecutive days. I even began the process of transitioning from traditional running shoes to odd-looking minimalist footwear, much to the puzzlement of those around me. I'll probably write a separate post about my minimalist running journey at some point, but I will hold off for now since this post is getting quite long as it is. In closing, I'll simply say this: reverse psychology is still alive and well. Tell me that I absolutely cannot do something, and chances are that I'll go out and do that very thing just to prove you wrong. No, I will not start jumping off cliffs and engaging in gratuitously reckless activities, but I may just push my limits and discover a new passion.