I was not born to run. For the first 25 years of my life I was a mostly overweight, yo-yo dieter and an average athlete who had a love-hate relationship with the gym. Running came into my life at a time when I really needed it. After anxiety and depression contributed to a 70 pound weight gain, my concerned doctor told me it was time to get serious about losing weight. I still remember the first few steps I took as a runner along the Lisgar Trail in Mississauga – little did I know they would be the first steps of many, many more.
60 seconds – that’s how long my first run was. Whenever someone asks me how I became a runner, I always tell them that it was a journey that started with a 1 minute run. Slowly, I worked up to 5 minutes of running, then 10, then 20, and eventually an hour. My first race was the Toronto Women’s Run 8k on October 23rd 2010 and I finished in a time of 45:17. Since 2010, I have completed 10 additional races, including 2 half marathons, which had me running over 2 hours straight.
In addition to the amazing physical benefits of running such as increased endurance, weight loss, and some pretty killer calves, running has made me a stronger person mentally and emotionally. Crossing the finish line at a race, whether it be 10K or 21K, is an indescribable feeling. I still get overwhelmed as I see the cheering crowds, the time clock, the finish line in sight and I’m usually tearing up by the last 500 metres. I feel like a champion every time I cross the finish line knowing that I have accomplished something that has tested both my physical and mental strength.
When talking to non-runners, I often hear “Oh, I could never be a runner.” My automatic response is always “Oh, yes you can.” If I could become a runner, anyone can. You don’t need to have an athletic body or a history of participating in sports to be a great runner. Most of what you need comes from inside: a strong will, a dedicated mind, perseverance when training gets tough, and most importantly, the power to believe in yourself.