I cannot pinpoint the exact moment during my freshmen year of college I decided to start running. It was never a conscious decision. What started out as a few casual jogs through my neighborhood grew into a religious morning routine. It was as if the sport and I had gone on a couple dates and before I could process what was happening we were in a full-fledged relationship.
By the time I had finished my freshmen year of college I was running everyday, in the mornings before the rest of the world woke up. I started running to control my weight but I noticed it began to play a much larger role in my life. The mornings became my sanctuary of clarity and peace. Running was my release, my strength, and my confidence. It taught me to set goals and allowed me to explore new environments both internal and external.
In 2010, I put my feet to the test, signing up for the Marine Corp Marathon. I completed it in 3 hours and 51 minutes with a smile on my face. In 2011, I moved on to The Baltimore Running Festival Marathon. I finished in 3 hours and 31 minutes, qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I felt invincible and I prided myself on running everyday.
That was until everything changed. I stopped menstruating and, I didn’t know it at the time, but my bone density was weakening. I developed osteopenia and as I was training for Boston I got my first stress fracture. About 5 more followed, needless to say I never competed in Boston. Slowly, I began to fall out of love with running. What once was a source of strength was now destroying my body, the trust was gone but like an addict I still craved running.
I had to learn to let go for a while and I did. For two months I barely ran at all. My injuries brought to light the importance of taking care of my body. I began to pay attention to smaller details, all the pieces that work together to enable me to function. I recognized the significance of rest, flexibility, and stretching for my body. There was a point my ankles were so weak I could not stand on my tip-toes, physically I could not do it. There is no better way to appreciate the strength of your body than to have it taken away.
This was when I found yoga. I’d tried it inconsistently for years but this was different. Now I understood. Yoga helped me heal both mentally and physically.
I’ve started running again, I’ve competed in a half marathon and have more races coming up. Now both running and yoga play integral roles in my strength and confidence. Yoga has helped me find balance and allowed me to rebuild my relationship with running and with my body.