Written By Amanda Srere
Author Bio: I'm Amanda, and I've always been into writing! After majoring in English lit and creative writing in college, I got my Master's in childhood education and am currently a kindergarten teaching assistant. Always looking for new inspiration and adventures!
I was running. Well, I wasn't exactly running- it was more of a slow jog in which I dragged my fatigued body in circles around the reservoir in Central Park on a day in late September. The humidity was clearly 80% again, and while the air temperature hovered around 70°, I felt as though a heavy weight pressed down on my chest. I had run this loop so many times in the past year that I could tell what mileage I was at by the landmarks that passed by, and currently I was coming up on 1.5 miles. Almost halfway, I thought, and said a quick prayer to whatever was up there that I could make it to a 5K today. My running record had been erratic over the past few months; in June I had run a 10K, but over the summer I'd struggled with shin splints and heel issues, leading to a brief hiatus from the reservoir. Finally, in early September I had made my way cautiously toward running again.
I was running. For me, running was not about burning off every crumb that I had eaten throughout the day. It wasn't about training my body so that I could run marathons. It wasn't even about doing an activity that I was great at. For me, it was about the endorphins, about the feeling of peace and accomplishment that came when I had hit my marker, about the sensation of my problems becoming fixable and my nerves becoming calmed. It was my form of therapy. Most days, I didn't want to run and I spent the whole day dreading it until the moment I walked up the steps to the reservoir loop and launched my body forward. And then the whole first mile was filled with thoughts of I can't do this, I'm going to stop after 1 mile, I can feel my shin splints starting. But after that, my legs became numb and the endorphins started to set in, and I synched with my 90s playlist while weaving fabulous imagined anecdotes in my head.
I was running. I was running from things, and I was also running to things. I hadn't been prepared for what life after college was like, and while it had been two years since I'd walked across my university's stage and accepted my diploma, I hadn't quite mastered the act of being an adult. Some things had certainly fallen into place- job, apartment, friends, mastery of the subway system, and some surefire recipes. However, I had spent the last two years going on a multitude of subpar first dates, questioning decisions that I made, and battling the insecurities and disorders that come with being in your twenties. I ran from these issues and from the thoughts that sometimes rotated slowly around my brain, filling me with self-doubt and sadness. I tried to run to a happier place that was still clouded with the golden mist that the future holds. The more I ran, the further I got from the negative things in my life. The more I ran, the closer I got to a land that matched the one I crafted in my brain while running, a land where I found contentment, love, and success, a land that I was sure existed somewhere, even if just beyond 3.1 miles. I was running, and someday I'd get there.