Running past anxiety

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
I have never been a skilled runner. I've always wanted to be; however in my mind, running was an anxiety filled, sweat-stained horror.

Distance running has always been a dreaded activity for me. I always felt inadequate, uncoordinated and humiliated for finishing last. I'd rarely been the champion of battling away the pessimistic thoughts that ran rampant through my mind all while trying to push through all my discomforts that accompany running.       

My most recent running endeavor began in October as a final attempt to thwart my anxiety of an impending mile-and-a-half run for an upcoming physical fitness test. With the support of others, I decided to make the commitment of participating in the Health and Wellness Center's six-week running clinic.

Each week, I was pushed to my limits and each week it got harder. I enjoyed every second of it. The clinic wasn't only focused on running. It also focused on increasing overall strength in every muscle so I could consistently push myself harder. 

The clinic was divided into run days as well as strength days. The run days consisted of a long distance run or interval sprints, and on the strength days the class participated in  non-stop hour-long weighted squats, step exercises, curls with weights, push-up, sit-up and mountain climbing workouts. 

For me, the clinic was a saving grace. During the six-week period, I was able to apply myself to running more than I ever have and with more joy than I ever could have imagined. It was really hard, but that hard work paid off when I saw my time on the stop watch. I shaved off more than two minutes on my run time in just a matter of weeks.

During the clinic, I came to the realization that my prior attempts at running were all wrong. I learned that my pessimistic thoughts were just my way of defeating myself before I could even get started. I was my own biggest obstacle.

I learned to fight against my mind screaming at me, "Why are you doing this? Stop it."  "Don't kid yourself, you are four steps in and already winded." "Someone could walk at the pace you are running!"

I have learned that everyone starts somewhere. I just happened to be on the short end of the natural running ability stick. I have come to accept this fact, and now after some sweat and tears, I can say for once that I enjoy running.

I was told something by another participant of the clinic that really stuck with me, "I may be last to cross the finish line, however I am not the slowest. The slowest people are at home on the couch not bettering themselves."

The HAWC's Running Clinic is available to all active duty members who wish to make an overall improvement of their physical fitness. For more information on the running clinic contact the installation's HAWC.