Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Do I Run?

“Running is one the best solutions to a clear mind.” - Sasha Azevedo

Someone asked me, over the weekend, why is it that I run? I pondered this and I realized that I run for so many reasons. While I run mostly for health reasons, the act of running is very much a mental thing. I regard my running to be just as important as this blog.

The most important reason I run is because of health. My mother is diabetic and my father has high blood pressure. I am not trying to go down that road. My mother used to smoke a lot and while I am not sure how many cigarettes she used to smoke per day, I will never forget how bad they smelled. It definitely deterred me from ever smoking. At the risk of calling my father an alcoholic, I will just simply say he drank a lot. My parent's vices have not become mine, so many of there issues will not be mine however, you cannot fight genetics.

Back in January, when I started this blog, I knew I had to change my life. I knew that my marriage was just about over and I didn't like the person I saw in the mirror. That person I saw in that mirror was not what I wanted. Even now, as I look at pictures, I think there is something unacceptable about my look. I am not saying I was fat, maybe it was the lack of confidence in myself and my life. I will say this: I was pushing 190 at one point.

My weight was not that much of an issue to me at the time. I know there are people that severely overweight and I would never compare myself to them. However, I didn't like the way clothes fit me. I could not stand the fact that when I played basketball that I would get winded easily. Every so often I would get pains in my left knee. Not to mention that I really did not like my gut. I am fully aware that this seems that I am succumbing to societal pressures on what we should look like but, when I am not happy with the person I see in the mirror, then I need to change that.

It was very difficult thing at first. To run is such a test on mental toughness as much as physical prowess. I had to deal with aches that I had never dealt with before and I had to deal with my negative thoughts. Getting on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes is bad enough as it is, but when I started thinking about my life and how I messed things up, it can get to be very emotional. I started pushing myself harder because I wanted to make myself pay for every last mistake. I was going to make the goals I set for myself or I was simply going to die trying. Even now, when I am dealing with a situation or overthinking something, I run because I want a break from thinking about those people and those things in my life that stress me.

The weight loss really began when I changed my diet. I stopped drink soda and decreased my sugar intake. I am eating smaller portions and healthier foods. When I do eat bad, it is not in large amounts. I drink lots of water. Once this starting going the way I wanted...I had to keep running. I even made sure that I got running shoes because it was becoming a part of my life.

I have come to realize that running is the only thing that I can do that stops me from overthinking. In that 20-30 minute stretch of time it is just me and my music. I don't have to think about anyone or anything. I have even learned how to focus. So many times over the last several months I have had so much trouble focusing on my tasks or workouts. I find that when I play racquetball, I tend to lose focus. Chances are that I am thinking way too much about my day. With running, I have been able to bear down and focus. Once I do that, my session seem so much better.

The only real problem now is that all my clothes look big on me. I recently donated a couple of bags of clothes to the salvation army. I don't think that throwing away clothes in a good thing unless they have holes or badly torn...and even then I am so sure about it. I was so shocked about the size of pants that I used to wear. I was rocking a 38 waist. Now I am closer to 32. I am in shock of how 15-20 pounds can change the way someone looks and feels about themselves.

I do laugh because I have had women tell me not to lose too much weight because most women like men who have meat on their bones. While, I understand the concern, It is not about them. It is about me. My transformation has nothing to do with women and how they may come to view me. I am more concerned about that man in the mirror. Besides, I am not really on a diet. My goal is just to look better for myself. I always want to be able to go to the beach and be comfortable with taking off my shirt.

Now, I see man in the mirror and he is looking so much better to me. I am not saying he is happy, but he looks like he finally knows what he needs to do.

“Running helps me stay on an even keel and in an optimistic frame of mind.” - Bill Clinton


phoenix said...

Love it! I have cried on the treadmill a few times --- it's amazing how cathartic a good workout can be.

Are you going to run any races?

I want to run in a charity 5K next spring.

Anthony Otero said...

I wont lie. There have been a few times when my eyes got watery.

I havent thought about races yet, but I am sure I can do a 5k.

I just have be in the mindset, especially if it is for charity that It is ok not to

Tyrone said...

I started to run for the same health reasons. I need to change my diet like you did, though. I find running can clear my head like nothing else. I wish I started before. I'll run my 3rd 5k this year in October.

Brooke said...

Ant, this was so inspirational. It's great that you're taking care of you first and focusing on what is important - your well being - both mental and physical.

I definitely encourage you to do a race for charity...I think it'll be life changing! Keep it up!

Corina said...

You are wise to start working toward a healthier you now, in your youth and before it becomes a problem. It is far better to avoid the health risks than to try to reverse them.

Running sounds like it is good for not only your body but your mind and your spirit. It sounds like you've found something that you can do on your own, almost anywhere, that won't hurt anyone and doesn't have to cost any money.

I'd say you done good!

IDIOT face said...

Hello there Latinegro, my name is Idiot Face and I have to say I love your blog, especially how you talk about being an Afro-Latino. I can relate to this (being part afro latin myself.)
Anyway back to the topic. I have to run as part of my Muay Thai training and I absolutely can't stand it. Must admit being asthmatic doesn't help either. Oh well, each to there own.
I've also got a blog and the next subject I'm going to write about might interest you.


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