Posted in Thoughts

Why I run.

People make the common misconception that I love to run. THAT is simply untrue. Growing up, I hated running. Sure, I was active as a child. You could find me climbing around a tree any day. However, as I grew up and entered middle and high school, running became more of a chore. In physical education, I had to run under a 9 min/mile to get that A. I always ran around a 9:30 – 10 min/mile. We also had something called conditioning where we had to run 6 laps to get an A and I was always one lap shy. In high school, I played Field Hockey as a defender. My endurance was horrendous and playing an offensive position would have probably made me collapse on the field. I only participated in Track and Field (I only did long and triple jump) to stay conditioned for Field Hockey.

So, If you were to tell me that a decade or so later, I’d be running 5ks, 10ks, and even half marathons, I wouldn’t have believed you. I guess the big question is what changed? Why do I run?

I run for my health  – both physically and mentally.

My family has a history of health issues linked to high cholesterol and at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol.  I suspect it’s familial hypercholesterolemia as almost every family member has it and we don’t eat all that badly. It’s only slightly out of range and not high enough to take medication for so I run to keep it in check.

I have been running here and there every so often, but I never stuck with it until a year ago. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with depression and for the first few months, I couldn’t find a reason to get up in the morning. I had lost so much control of my life and it was one of the worst feelings I have ever felt in my life. I just felt completely alone and lost all motivation to do anything.

Something my therapist told me while I was in therapy was to start off with a small goal everyday and try to accomplish it (i.e. eat breakfast, brush teeth). So I started making goals. I thought about things that I’ve always wanted to try. Running a half marathon was one of them.  I started off by signing up for a 10k and a few 5ks and after a few weeks of training, I accomplished them. As time passed and I accomplished more goals, the better I felt.  I felt more in control of my life.

With running, the only variable was me. It was my legs and it was my breathing that I could control and honestly, I needed that. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t taken up running. It really was just the step I needed to start picking up the pieces of my life.

So that’s the reason I run. I run for myself and that’s a pretty darn good reason.

Running down mile 11 at the Nike Women's Half Marathon in SF 2014
Running down mile 11 at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF 2014

Also, those shiny medals I get are an added bonus.

There will be many more medals to come next year.
There will be many more medals to come in my lifetime.


My name is Mai and I am a recent PhD graduate. :) When not hard at work, I can be found training for a race, traveling the world, or talking about Disneyland. Come join me on my journey and help me navigate this world. :)

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