71. First Step

71. First Step

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners

First Step

Commit to be fit.
 ~Author Unknown

I never thought I could be the kind of girl who woke up at 5:20 to run, but here I am doing it. It is still dark outside, my mother and brother are still fast asleep, but I’m putting on my sneakers.

It takes me approximately 10 minutes to brush my teeth, my hair, put my contacts in. iPod in hand, I slowly creep down the hall and peek my head into my mother’s room.

“Going to run, Mom,” I whisper. “Okay,” she sleepily replies.

I happily race down the stairs and open the door to my basement — even after all these years, we still call it the “playroom.” That’s where my treadmill is.

My treadmill. The place where I can just run and run and be totally relaxed. A year ago, it seemed like a laughable concept that I could run and be relaxed. But now, I like to think of it as my therapy. If I’m angry, I just get on the treadmill and put the speed up as high as I can and just run until I run out all of my anger. I can’t be mad after a great workout like that.

You could say my whole obsession with running began because of anger — I was mad at my brother, and, for some reason, I just got on the dormant treadmill my mother was trying to get rid of and started to walk briskly. I could feel the anger — I don’t even remember what the fight was about — starting to boil over. In a sudden burst of energy, I turned the treadmill up to five miles an hour.

I laugh at that now — five miles an hour, a 12-minute mile, seems like such an easy jog to me now. But back then I was huffing and puffing after 2 minutes. I was about to turn it down again when the mile time flashed on the screen — 12 minutes. I could do 12 minutes, couldn’t I?

I could, but I was so tired after that I felt like I never wanted to move again. Yet, I felt at the same time… empowered. Like nothing could hold me back. So, a little while later I ran another mile. And another. By the end of that day, I had run three miles — an amazing feat for an out-of-shape, overweight girl like me.

I never let go of running. I began a system — run a mile, walk a mile, rest. Later, run another mile, walk another mile. I averaged four miles a day. A definite improvement from my normal exercise of lazily walking my dogs half a mile.

That treadmill, which my mother once wanted to get rid of, became the place where I spent hours a day. Soon, I was running two miles straight before doing any walking. Then, I cut out walking all together — I was just running. I could run for up to an hour and a half, no stopping. My old jeans began to feel loose on me. I was elated. I hadn’t gotten into this to lose weight, but this was a happy side effect.

Running then led to a gym membership. The equipment there was amazing — rows and rows of treadmills, exercise bikes, a huge room full of every single kind of weight machine one could imagine.… I was in heaven.

One of the reasons I believe I have been so successful in fitness is I am not afraid to push myself. Run an extra mile? No problem. Five miles an hour? Please, I can do it at 6.5. An extra hundred crunches, ten more pounds, one more set of lunges, it was all so much fun. I truly enjoyed fitness.… I do still truly enjoy fitness.

Now, I go to the gym six days a week. I do not have to force myself to go — it is something I really love to do.

Of course, my favorite thing to do is run — which is why I run three miles every day at the gym and wake myself up half an hour early each morning so I can run two miles before school.

I never joined a track team, or entered any races. My only competition is myself. I went from being a lazy, overweight girl who barely moved herself from in front of the TV to someone who is truly fit, with muscles and a small waist. I’ve gone down to a size 4, but even those pants are loose on me. But weight isn’t really what it’s all about — it’s the wonderful way I see myself now. The accomplished feeling I get every day.

Trust me, if I can get into shape, anyone can. It doesn’t matter your age — I began when I was thirteen. All you have to do is take that first step.

~Fallon Kane

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