Falling in love with running at the ripe age of 22 happened as an unexpected last result to keep my sanity. I was ripe out of college, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. There I was, looking back at the 4 years spent preparing for that very moment, and I yet still had no clue where to go from there. I turned down all my job offers on the gut feeling that there was something else out there for me, moved back home, and did what anyone does when they’re trying to organize anything that’s a cluttered mess (in this case my life, my future, my outlook): made lots of lists. One day, after the millionth list, the thousandth life-talk, the billionth passing of a self-doubt-filled thought, I finally couldn’t take it anymore. Something in me cracked. With no real thought process or conviction, I threw on my Mom’s old walking shoes, and took off running to the park a few blocks down the street. I can’t tell you where this sudden urge came from, for before this moment I hadn’t run since PE class in high school 4 years back. Not to mention I hated running. Hated it! I spent most of my life thinking I simply wasn’t physically made to be a runner. I’ve never been a smoker, but you’d think it if you heard my breathing after 60 seconds on a track. Not to mention I also had this weird problem where I kick my right leg outward to create the most “graceful” stride you’ve ever seen. I never would have thought running could ever solve my problems, calm my soul, or change my life. Yet there I was, swinging one awkward right foot in front of the left, inhaling and exhaling so loudly in an effort to grasp my breath even New York City could hear me over the traffic, and holding my left side to soothe a cramp that felt like daggers piercing my rib cage. It was quite miserable. But I could tell something was happening to me. Something I had never experiences before. I ran, and I ran, and then I ran some more. Lap after lap after lap, I pushed myself to keep going. I pushed until suddenly all the clutter and crap that was on my mind and the weight on my shoulders was gone. I ran until the physical pain went numb, and the sea of emotional turmoil calmed. I ran until I felt more in the present moment than I’d ever felt before. I ran until I felt, well, alive again. I ran until my life was in perspective again. I think that’s how life works sometimes. You have to hit these points where you feel like if you take one more step you’re going to collapse. But then you do take that final step, and that’s the moment it all starts to change. Suddenly you know you can take so much more, go so much further, push yourself so much harder than you every knew you were capable of before. I guess what it comes down to, be it in running or life in general, is you wont find out you have a second wind until you run far enough on your first one. Two years later, my stride is no longer the laughable, deadly-to-passerby’s stride it once was. Two years later, even I, who was never meant to be a runner, am a runner. Images: Featured Image: Lulumon | Post Image: Kyle FitzPatrick Lauren Rains is editor of Outdoor Minded Mag and also writes on her personal blog The Mad To Live. When she’s not working on her passion projects, you’ll likely find her off on some adventure be it walking 50 miles in 48 hours along the beach or skateboarding to the grocery store for chili ingredients on her longboard. You can find her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.