When you think of running, what comes to mind? Some may say the feeling of exhilaration and being carefree, while others may just think of it as another tiresome and energy-consuming sport, and, up until recently, I was part of the latter group. Although I had been a runner for years, I only ran during track meets and practices when I had to, not for fun. My perspective changed one day when I decided to stop sitting around my house and go for a run. The weather outside was cloudy and cool, the perfect weather for a jog around the neighborhood. I stepped outside, only to retreat back into my house, because I had just been reminded of why I hated running so much: the first steps.
Every day during quarantine feels cloudy, gloomy, and gray, and I never really looked forward to leaving the comfort of my home and running around my hometown of Palisades Park, New Jersey. It was depressing, seeing the deserted streets, which were once teeming with people. The rather urban jungle of shops and restaurants, which used to emanate the sounds of chatter and the smells of Korean BBQ, were now boarded up and lifeless. I told myself that it would be too sad to go for a run and see the town looking so different. However, that was only part of the reason. It may sound a bit lazy, but I found myself dreading the thought of taking these initial steps because I wasn’t fond of the transition out of my comfort zone. My lack of motivation soon became a pattern, but I eventually realized that the hardest part was taking that first step out of my house. After this first step–when I am actually running–I find the sport enjoyable and exciting. Running helps me find a rhythm and escape the doom and gloom of staying still for too long. And even though my town looks different now, I console myself by remembering that this pandemic can’t last forever. Running reminds me to keep moving, even if each individual step feels so small. Sometimes, starting to tackle a challenge is the biggest obstacle in my path.
Instead of dreading the opening steps of my run, I began to think of them as a gateway to further enjoyment and exhilaration, which surprisingly altered my mindset. I started going on daily runs around my town, all because of this change in perspective. Every challenge we tackle comes with the challenge of getting started, whether it’s hopping off the couch for a run, unzipping your backpack to study, or opening your mouth to speak up. Starting up leads to action. Action leads to habit. Habit leads to change. What’s that one task that never gets crossed off your to-do list? What’s that New Year’s resolution you’ve been conveniently ignoring? What’s that one thing you’ve always wanted to do but just… never started? Taking the first step makes the rest a bit easier, even on a cloudy day.