Running for the Mind, Body, and Soul

By Anna Hiran
Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2013
I wasn’t born a runner. I’m not blessed with mile-long legs that most marathon runners have. But that doesn’t mean I can’t run. From the day I was born until the end of middle school, I saw running as my enemy. It’s tiring, and I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to put themselves through that much pain. Huffing and puffing didn’t really appeal to me, and that was all I got from running.
In high school, I decided to get serious with competitive dancing, and I knew I had to get in shape. Dancing requires strength and stamina, and I read that running was one of the quickest ways to build up that endurance I needed. I started jogging whenever I had extra time and actually started enjoying it. I noticed that I felt happier and more focused in class whenever I ran. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” I guess Elle Woods was right after all. Exercise allows you to treat not only your body well, but your mind and soul too. It’s kind of an ultimate solution to many of my problems!
Now that I’m in college, I try and fit running time in my busy schedule so that I can expel some of the stress I get from school work. Even taking 30 minutes out of a day makes such a huge difference on how I feel and how awake I am during class. College can get overwhelming, and sleep becomes more and more precious as students delve deeper into difficult upper-division courses. Unfortunately, not everyone gets in the recommended number of Z’s each night, but running can actually help you sleep better even if you’re get fewer than 7-8 hours. Exercising earlier in the day can make you sleep more soundly at night, leaving you refreshed in the morning and ready to take on the next day with a great attitude!
Because of this passion that sprouted quite quickly in me, I decided to incorporate running into my New Year’s resolution. On the first day of 2014, I signed up for a half-marathon scheduled in Austin this upcoming spring and told myself, “I’m going to finish those 13.1 miles one way or another.” I’m ready for this challenge and have set aside some time for training, but I’ll admit that I sometimes find myself wondering if I’ll be able to do it or not. I believe it’s okay to think about the feasibility of what you’ve planned, but don’t let that thinking stop you. Every time I start pondering over whether or not I’ll be ready to run a half-marathon this spring, I remind myself that no matter what the outcome of this challenge is, everything will be okay. If I have to walk 13.1 miles, I’ll walk 13.1 miles. It might take 4 hours, but that’s only a small portion of a day, right? The goal is not to be the fastest one running the marathon, but the person who crosses the finish line with a smile and sense of accomplishment and success.
I’m not using this blog post as a way to lecture readers about why they should pick up running. Each individual person has their unique interests and ways to cope with stress, but I am merely recommending running to those who have never given it a chance. You may not like it at first (I certainly didn’t), but give it some time, and it may grow on you. If it doesn’t end up working out, then continue searching for something that will give you motivation, energy, and a new outlook on each day, whether that be playing a sport, reading a good book, or spending time with family. Don’t let anything stop you from finding a hobby that makes you happy or setting a high goal, and even though it might look impossible to achieve at first, remind yourself that, as cliché as it may seem, you really do have the ability to conquer anything you put your mind to!
Anna Hiran is a college freshman at The University of Texas in Austin, Texas majoring in Business Honors. Originally from Houston, Texas, Anna was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2013. Learn more about Anna here!

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