If I’m being honest, I haven’t had a serious workout in about two weeks. Our definitions of ‘serious workout’ might be different, but I hate admitting that I’ve had more lazy days than productive ones.
Recently, however, I was reminded by one of my friends why I love to workout, and in particular, why I love running. I ran Cross Country my senior year of high school and loved it more than I thought I would. It was my outlet: a time to challenge myself and feel accomplishment when I pushed myself harder than ever before. I wasn’t the best on the team, but I loved how hard we all worked together to be a team.
Halfway through the season, I found out I had a stress fracture in my femur. Needless to say, my season was over. I was devastated particularly because I could hardly do any form of exercise until my leg healed.
My doctor told me I could swim once I was off crutches. The challenge was that swimming (obviously) isn’t running.
Flashback: On the first day of practice our Cross Country coach said to us, “Congratulations, you are officially runners and will be for the rest of your life”. I didn’t know what he meant until I could no longer run.
Near the end of the Cross Country season, I was cleared to run again.
My first day back it was cold and raining. My coach told me to run a lap around the track, walk a lap then repeat. So I did. My friend came out onto the track as I ran slow laps and asked me why I was running in the rain. I explained that I was running because I could.
That is exactly what working out should be.
After much consideration, I’ve come up with a few reasons why you should workout:
1. You should workout because you can.
You should not focus on the ‘thigh gap’ or the ‘bikini body’. Instead you should focus on yourself, and what working out does for you. There are so many people who don’t have the ability to workout and I constantly remind myself how lucky I am that I can run.
2. Exercise is an escape.
Personally, I find exercise to be an outlet. Sometimes I forget and enter a world of negativity when I don’t see ‘results’, but results aren’t everything. Obviously it’s satisfying to find yourself doing 10 more squats, running an extra mile, and perhaps gaining the semblance of abs, but that shouldn’t be the entire goal.
As a college student (or anyone), exercise should be an escape from stress. Exercise should be personal time where you focus only on yourself and not the hours of work you have. Exercise should symbolize a healthier lifestyle and healthier you.
3. You will have bad days, and that’s perfectly okay.
I think we often have to be reminded that it’s okay to have a ‘bad day’ at the gym (or in life). It’s okay to be exhausted from our daily activities and only spend 30 minutes walking or jogging on the treadmill. All that matters is that we are doing it. If we didn’t have bad days, how would we know what a good day is?
I have been trying to remind myself that it’s okay to take a few days off, and it’s okay to get discouraged. The real success is getting back into the routine.
4. You learn a lot about yourself.
I will admit that I would like to be more fit but who doesn’t. I work out because I want to push myself to be the best version of myself and be my healthiest self. No thigh gap or six-pack can make me do it, only the fact that it is something I love and something that undoubtedly makes me feel better in times of stress.
I’ve also been straying from my usual routine to try different things like yoga and cycling. It’s beneficial to mix things up to keep your body guessing and keep you interested.
5. You’ll find a lifelong activity that you love, and I guarantee you’ll meet amazing people while you’re at it.
I love running and always will. Maybe you hate running more than anything, but all you have to do is find something you love whether it be cycling, kick boxing, or yoga. When you love what you do, it won’t be difficult to get yourself to do it. Plus, your new best friend might be the person cycling next to you, laughing through the pain with you.
6. You’ll find a new sense of confidence and joy.
Your stress levels will diminish and you’ll find yourself excited to wake up and run or cool down with a restorative yoga class. You’ll be connected with your body and will find new strengths.
Pro Tip: watch Netflix while running on the treadmill (or biking, using the elliptical, Stairmaster, etc.). Before you know it, you’ll be 3 episodes in and the gym will be telling you they’re closing. You can also do some studying while using the aforementioned machines, and sometimes I feel like I remember more when I’ve studied while exercising.