10 Amazing Ways Running Can Change a Life

Carissa Liebowitz

1) I learned to love it early

My first memory of running was completing a one-mile fun run in conjunction with a 10K that my dad had spent months training for. He would sometimes let me come with him to the local high school track to watch.

I remember that while the other members of my family ended up walking a good portion of the race, I stayed with a friend and ran the entire thing.

2) I love the competition

A few months later, I ran another mile as part of the Presidential Classroom Fitness Test. I was 9 years old and ran an 8:08 mile which was good enough to give me a second place standing in my class. I was hooked.

3) It gave me freedom…

Every chance I got to run at school from that period on was something I looked forward to. A few years later, I discovered I could run outside of school and for however long I wanted.

Perhaps it was more the taste of freedom, but I would load up my walkman with a mixed tap and loop through the quiet suburban hills of my neighborhood.

4) … and a way to discover the world

As a freshman in high school, I joined the track team and took an entire season to realize short distance was not my forte. By the time sophomore year rolled around, I learned that that the longer the distance, the better my performance.

Those neighborhood runs on my own slowly trickled further away from home. Seeing the scenery from the perspective of my own two feet rather than a car was incredible.

5) It gave me confidence I’d never felt before

In college, I drastically cut back on my running the first year. Feeling heavier and sluggish, I drug myself to the gym’s treadmill and slowly started to feel better about myself.

The mileage was short, but I was dedicated to going 3 times a week. I was decidedly happier, healthier, and far more confident with sweat in my life.

6) It improved my health

Post-college, I fell out of the habit for a few years while I tried to navigate life. When my boyfriend-now-husband suggested we go on my first-ever ski trip, I worried that my current fitness (re: zilch) was going to be trouble on the mountains. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t an issue, but it did invigorate me to start a new running routine to prepare.

7) It helped me accomplish things I wouldn’t have

After a few years of regular running for fitness, I got the idea of running a marathon stuck in my head. I poured over other runner’s stories, cobbled together a training program, and signed up for my first 26.2.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done and I swore I’d never do it again at mile 16. But that finish line feeling had me addicted.

8) It challenges me

Five marathons later, I loved how training for a race gave purpose to my running and the ebb and flow of training was something tangible, controllable. It didn’t occur to me that I was capable of anything more than simply finishing a race until I got bit by the Boston Marathon bug. Methodically, I increased my training, learned how to race a race, and miraculously qualified.

9) And gives me a way to play

Seeking new challenges after qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I went in search of something longer. These longer distance races are typically on trails and soon, I found a whole other world of running and life.

Dodging rocks and roots, careening down dirt paths, and sloshing through creeks is the closest thing to feeling like kid again. Escaping the realities of adult life hours at a time is simple and joyful.

10) The best thing: It brings me happiness

I hope to have many, many more years of running in my life. When I reflect on what it has given me thus far, I am at awe at how it has shaped my life. Friendships, travel, adventure, and everything that makes me better as a person is because of running.

Even if I never could take another step, I feel lucky to have experienced as much as a have as a runner.

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on StravaInstagram and her blog.

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