This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks

love of running

I ran my first half marathon earlier this year. It was something I decided to do around this time last year after spending some time in San Francisco during the weekend the Nike Women’s Half Marathon took place. Maybe it was the energy in the air or the raw salad on my plate, but that weekend I decided a half marathon was something I would accomplish in 2014.

My serious relationship with running started 10 years ago. After a miserable start to a high school softball season, I started running in the evenings after practice. My habit continued into the summer, and though I was only average two to three miles a day, I saw remarkable improvements in my overall fitness and happiness levels.

For the next four years, I ran often, though less in the winter months. I abandoned running in college, and it is probably my biggest regret. I really could have used one of my oldest friends a few times during those four years.

I am not a natural-born runner by any definition. Every step is a painful battle, both physically and mentally. But lacing up my running shoes is the most productive thing I can do for myself on any given day.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through every painful mile I’ve pushed through, for every hill I’ve climbed, each blister I’ve earned, and at the end of each run I smashed when I didn’t want to move at all.

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Running has taught me that I am capable of anything and that I am capable of everything. If I can run 13.1 straight miles, I can run 13.1 more. If I can force myself out of bed at an ungodly hour, I can do it again. If I can eat an espresso flavored gel and follow it up with lemon-lime gatorade and continue to run another two miles, I can make it through anything. (For the record – yes I actually had those two things together during my first half and it was disgusting).

As any runner knows, for every 10 bad runs, you have one amazing, life-affirming, beautiful run that makes it all worth it. On these runs, you’re flying and it feels like you might never touch the ground again and it is the most powerful feeling in the world.

Every now and then, running and I take a break. As much as it clears my mind, refreshes my soul, and soothes my anxiety, it is exhausting to sustain a pace that you are not ready to maintain. A good run can take you miles further than you meant to go, leaving you with sore shins, tight hamstrings, and an overextended mind. When I feel my passion for the run growing into compulsion, I know I am walking a fine line between burnout and the positive mindset I crave.

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This translates to all aspects of my life. I am a passionate person, and I tend to channel that enthusiasm until I am breathless. I fall into a one-track-minded spiral where I am consumed by an idea, a thought, or a project until I can bring it to life. It can be stressful and tiring, and I often find myself needing space from that mindset. It’s thoroughly exhausting to give 110 percent when all you have to give is 100.

My 25 Before 25 Bucket List includes running a second half marathon. Some days I want to, other days I’m dreading it and looking for any reason excuse I can to get out of it. Ultimately, I know I can’t let myself down and that I will be lacing up my running shoes again to complete another half marathon.