I’m a runner. I started running in the 5th and 6th grade for East Side Relays. It was a running competition between the neighboring elementary schools to build a healthy rivalry, friendships, and health. We would train for about a month, then race in the 100 meter, 200m, 400m and the “long distance” 800m.
In 7th and 8th grade I ran long distance track. Instead of the dreaded 800 meter being our long distance, we moved up to the Orange course, and the Gold course, about a 20 minute jog.
In 9th grade, I continued track as a thrower, shot put and discus. We would jog a 1 mile warm-up before each practice. In my sophomore year of high school I began long distance track, where the 800m, 1 mile, and 2 mile distances became my routine races. It was my junior year that I began cross country, 3 to 6 mile runs became my routine.
In college I continued Cross Country, and the regular became 5 to 8 mile runs, with hills and terrible heat. I loved it. I was never the fastest runner, neither the slowest.
I loved competing, against the other teams, and especially myself. Running became a form of meditation for me. On my best days, running became as easy as breathing, or drinking water. When I achieved a runner’s high, a form of zen, it was like I didn’t exist, or I was everything. I was nature; I was the pavement beneath my feet; I was the rustling leaves, I was the air. I became nature’s rhythm. I wasn’t anything in particular, I just was. I was aware.
I didn’t run Cross Country in my senior year of college. It’s both hard and easy to pick up running after you’ve stopped. It’s hard because it’s painful. It’s hard because I feel out of shape when I try to get back into running. It’s hard because it’s laborious and a big effort. I need to be motivated. I need to be driven. I need to want to run. But once you get into the flow after about a week of consistent running, you see improvements. It becomes easier. It starts to become relaxing again. After two weeks, you begin to feel amazing. You wake up alert. You feel more productive throughout your days. Once you build consistency, it becomes your yoga, your meditation, your zen.
I have been trying to get back into running, but I have been failing. I haven’t been practicing self-love. I have been criticizing myself, comparing my current state of fitness to what I use to be able to run. My legs hurt after a mile, and I remember when I use to run 5 miles no problem, when my legs use to hurt after 10 miles. I feel how heavily I’m breathing after running a ten minute mile pace, when I use to be able to run a 6:40 mile pace. These are negative thoughts. They only bring me down.
Today, for Day 1 of the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge, I realized how grateful I am for my current state of fitness. At least I can run. At least I can walk. I am young and healthy. I look at my grandma who falls and breaks her bones. I fall and get up without a bruise. I look at my mom who is working towards walking without pain. I take walking for granted. My body takes care of me. It enables me to live out the life I want. I should treat it healthy, so when I’m 80, I can still be moving around with relative ease. I also need to love it for how it is, and not compare myself to what it use to be able to do.
If I want to get back into running consistently, I can. I won’t start out running ten miles. I won’t start out running as fast as I use to, but I can work up to those distances and speeds, and surpass them. It has always been my goal to run a marathon. My cousin who is 40 just started running marathons. Another cousin in her mid 50’s runs marathons. I’m only 23. It’s not too late for me. My body can achieve great feats.
Today, I realized that I’m grateful and happy for my current state of health. I’m in no rush to push myself into pain, and I won’t let self-defeating thoughts stop me from achieving my running dreams. With patience, motivation, determination, and self-love, I can achieve anything I desire. If I don’t end up running at the same pace that I use to, I’m grateful that I can still run.
A realization that I continue to have, and that continues to impact me, if you love yourself, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and with relative ease. If you love yourself, life becomes more rewarding, more meaningful. If you implement self-love actions and self-love thoughts on a daily basis, you’ll feel the power that they and you are creating, and others will feel it too.
Today I became aware of my self-defeating thoughts, and I chose to stop them. I chose self-love. I’m looking forward to continue the Self-Love Challenge, and I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s experience and self-love actions.
Emelina Minero writes for Curve Magazine and EDGE Gay Media Network, and is Curve’s Social Media Manager. She’s launching her own progressive LGBTQ publication, The Human Experience. She’s a Connection Connoisseur, Networking Maven and Self-Love Enthusiast. She founded Community Bucket List and co-founded the Love Warrior Community. Find her on Twitter, @CommKr8veWriter.