I ran 3 miles this morning. I used to hate running.

I was that person who joked on Facebook, “I only run when I’m being chased.” It was true.

Running away

For more than 20 years, I ran to escape from something: anger, disappointment, fear, frustration. When I got bad news, I hit the road. That time a collaborator canceled their order, then used my graphics in their work anyway? I laced up my sneaks. I ran to work out that horrible, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. If I went faster, maybe it would fall away somewhere on the road back there behind me.

It wasn’t easy to run like this, only when I was scared or upset or frustrated. With a couple of bum knees, running was literally a pain. Only running when I was hurting, and hurting myself by running? No wonder I hated it.

no more running away

Undoing the damage

Recently, a new doctor looked at my knees and said, “This is not arthritis, they’re just weak. Here’s what you need to do.” I did a few of his strengthening exercises and started biking.

Then I spent a few months aiming for 10,000 steps a day with my FitBit. Walking never hurt, so I started to wonder about running. Last month, as I was starting this blog challenge, I decided to start a running challenge, too.

Every morning I went for a run. At first I only ran a mile, just to make sure my knees were OK. Every few days I’d increase the time and distance a little. Two weeks ago I ran 2.5 miles. And Monday I ran 3.

A new approach

While I still consider running a great stress reliever, I don’t feel like I’m running away from anger and disappointment anymore. Instead, I feel that I’m running toward other things: fitness, health, and a greater sense of well-being. And maybe some “yet undiscovered” part of myself. It’s nice not to feel chased anymore.

Are you a runner? What have you learned about yourself by running?