That time I… made running a daily habit


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NIU Northern Star Columnist Ally Formeller reflects on her running journey.

By Ally Formeller

I run four to eight miles every week. On days I don’t run, I make sure to walk at least four miles. Before last year, I could hardly run a mile, and now it’s part of my daily routine.

The pandemic changed a lot for most people. Classes were online, the stores were empty and everyone was staying home. 

It made me restless.

I felt like I had to do something, even though it felt like the whole world was coming to a halt. I was sick of online classes, and I didn’t want to spend my summer laying in bed watching YouTube videos.

So I did the opposite.

In May 2020, I decided I would start running. I’d never really run before, but it was something I’d always wanted to do, so I figured, “why not?”

Except I wasn’t good at it. The first time I ran, I ran for seven minutes— barely a quarter of a mile.

I hated it. It was hot out, I hated feeling out of breath and I hated that I couldn’t run as far as I wanted to. I hated being tired afterward.

Maybe it makes me a masochist, but I kept doing it. Every day, I would put on my running shorts, I’d tie my Nikes tight and I’d run. 

I ran for seven minutes until I could do it without breaking a sweat. 

Then I’d run for ten minutes. Then fifteen. Then twenty. Then thirty. 

Before the end of the summer, I was running over three miles multiple times a week.

After training for the whole summer, it felt easy. It felt good. I could run without the sharp pain of being out of breath stabbing my chest. I could run without being tired, and I didn’t care that it was hot. Running didn’t feel like a chore anymore. In fact, it gave me energy. 

Running is difficult. I run almost every day, and it’s still difficult. Most of the time, I don’t even want to start. I’m still not good at it, and I’m definitely not fast, but I don’t hate it anymore. 

Running has become a treasured part of my daily routine; it’s a time when I can relax and I don’t have to think about anything but my next step.