This is part 1 of a 2 part series on How I Started Running.

First, you should know: I never liked running.

I was very vocal about it. My motto was, “I don’t run unless an angry bear is chasing me, and mind you, she must be angry.”

But one summer, 9 years ago, I decided to give running a chance. And since then, my love affair for running has never waned and neither has my dedication. Spoiler alert: I ditched running a few weeks after I completed the Couch to 5K program and didn’t run for years afterward.

My Thoughts on Running:

  1. I hated running.
  2. I had never run a mile in my life.
  3. I can recall the first time I raced someone. I was a little kid in my best friend’s front yard, in the “outside lane”, racing someone several years older than me. I lost tremendously. I asked for a rematch. I lost tremendously.
  4. I can remember my PE teacher telling us to run laps and then chiding my “rebellion” when I began walking after a quarter-mile.
  5. I admitted curiosity over those running the Pi Mile, a 3.14 mile route underneath my Georgia Tech dorm window.
  6. I wondered why they were habitually doing something that seemed so hard.

The Couch to 5K Program

How I Started Running Cat

Cat Couch to 5K

I used the Couch to 5K Program which trains those with no running fitness (possibly like this cat) to run 3.1 miles or for 30 minutes straight. The 9 week program uses intervals of running and walking to avoid the exhaustion and failure that many beginning runners face. For example, the first day is 20 minutes repeating intervals of running for 30 seconds and walking for 90 seconds.

How I Started Running

In an attempt to accurately recount what led me to running, I went searching through old journals. I surprised myself with the context surrounding my origin story first running program. In my head, the Couch to 5K thing was sorta an anomaly that existed by itself. But it does not.

How I Started Running Journal Entry

Journal entry

Two things stood out. First, I was in the mood of self-improvement. I felt stagnant and wanted to kick-start some things in my life to remove that feeling. Oddly enough, my couch to 5K goal was not under a physical goal, it was under “an attitude change”. Apparently as someone who knew nothing about running, I knew the secret of running.

Second, I never connected that the summer I completed the Couch to 5K and ran a few weeks afterward… was also the summer I started medication for depression, which was the beginning of another kind of long journey.

I’m amazed at the slurry of emotions in that journal. I can sense I didn’t feel any control over my life. This entry in which I mention running looks plopped in. The handwriting is different – it’s neat and unfrenzied. And then I go back to chaos. I understand why I didn’t keep up my running program, but I wonder if life would have been a bit easier if I had – if I had something stable and mine.

How I Started Running School Picture

First week of school after 2007 summer

I logged my 2007 Couch to 5K journey on the now-defunct It was a popular social network in which you chose up to 43 goals and noted your progress on each one. Using the Way Back Machine, I was able to find the last 10 of the 18 entries I wrote.

Stay tuned next week for those entries in How I Started Running, Pt 2.

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When did you start running?

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