It's Time to Lace Up Your Running Shoes and Get Moving

Woman lacing up running shoes

There are few things I have dreaded more in life than running “the mile” in middle school P.E. Once a quarter, we laced up our Sketchers and trekked across the parking lot and out to the track, where four gruesome laps awaited our awkward pre-teen bodies. 

I am not, nor have I ever been, a “natural” runner. While running four laps around a track was an excellent energy-burning event for some of my peers, each lap brought me shame. I wasn’t able to go as fast as others. I often had to stop and walk. And I could not believe how hard something as simple as running was for me. This shame shaped my view of running for years to come. 

Thanks to time and maturity, my view of running has evolved. In college, I ran on a treadmill in the dorm gym to cope with anxiety. I was never fast, and I wasn’t aiming at any goal, but the movement quickly calmed my mind in a season of extreme stress. I soon ran a mile without needing to take a walking break. That treadmill in my college gym became a safe escape during moments of chaos; finals week, decisions for the future, and Election Night 2016. 

Upon moving across the country after graduation, I once again turned to my old friend—the treadmill—for mental clarity. I began building on my mile, working up to a 5K in a Brooklyn Planet Fitness. One day a coworker suggested running the New York City Marathon by partnering with a local charity. My soul and sanity must have left my body because one day later I was raising $3,000 for the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society and researching training plans during my lunch break. 

I’ll save you the suspense—on November 4, 2018, I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon with tears in my eyes, imagining what my seventh-grade self would think if she saw me. 

The months that followed my completed marathon shocked me. Everyone I knew—from aunts and uncles to high school friends to roommates—had a similar “I could never do that!” reaction to my 26.2-mile accomplishment. They obviously didn’t understand—if I of all people could gather up the gumption to sign up, train for, and finish a marathon, they could too. I truly believed this. 

Years later and I’m still preaching the same message—now with an inspiring running community, better gear, and a nuanced understanding of what the sport can do physically and mentally. Just because I completed a marathon doesn’t mean my initial “this is hard!” reaction to running doesn’t still exist, but I’m so much better prepared to handle the difficulties that come with it and encourage others to do the same. I know it’s hard, but I also know the mental freedom that comes with it every time I choose to hit the pavement. 

If I could gather up the gumption to sign up, train for, and finish a marathon, they could too.

Whether you’re a parent who needs to get out of the house, an individual who just moved to a new city, someone who’s always talked about signing up for a fun run, or someone like me who needed movement as a means of mental escape—let me be the first to tell you that you can do it. 

I wish I could tell my middle-school self that it doesn’t matter how fast you run or how often you need to walk. What matters is that you treat your body well, with gratitude. You do something that brings you physical and mental energy. You see parts of your city or countryside you might have otherwise missed. What matters is that you show up for yourself and run. 

Whether you're an aspiring runner working towards that first mile or a seasoned marathoner, Verywell Fit aims to inspire and motivate you to reach your full potential. We’ve been there, done that, and found more reasons to love running each time we lace up our sneakers. No matter what your goal is, our expert-designed training plans, useful nutrition tips, and tested gear recommendations will help you take the first step.

Wishing you all the best,

Lily Moe
Editor, Verywell Fit

By Lily Moe
Lily Moe is a former fitness coach and current Editor for Verywell Fit. A wellness enthusiast, she can often be found in a hot yoga studio, trying a new recipe, or going for a long run in Central Park.