Why I Run, Part IV: the conclusion of the matter

Sooner or later, taking ownership of something that is happening in your life becomes the difference between simply chasing a trend and actually taking action. Trends come and go, and once they are gone, all their glory goes with them. If you want something to stick, however, you must own it. 

shoe trendFor example, I spent a fair amount of money in middle and high school keeping up with the superstar Adidas shoe trend.  These shoes were in. The colored portion of the shoe’s design came in different colors, so I definitely owned red ones for bit. I even kept these puppies clean with a toothbrush (white shoes are high maintenance.) Then one day, I didn’t replace my superstars. I didn’t care enough; the shoes were just a trend fading from my life.

Running can be just that: a trend that will eventually fade. It was exciting at the beginning with all the camaraderie and new running shoes. And who doesn’t like feeling fit and unstoppable? But once you cross the finish line of your first race, then what? Do you train for another one and keep at it, increasing speed and distance and set more goals? Or does your running phase simple phase out?

There is nothing wrong with phase running. For some, once is enough. Ran one marathon, no need to run another. Not everyone’s bodies can handle too much pavement-pounding, either, and sometimes an injury gets in the way. Not everyone is a runner.

After running my first half marathon – not without encountering the pain of runner’s knee, I might add – I had to decide: was I going to keep going or was that it? Remember, a full marathon was still on my bucket list.

2013 was the year I began to take ownership of my running. It became much more than an exercise of choice. Running became an outlet, an act of worship, a mind-cleanser. My 13-week journey of marathon training coincided with an extremely tumultuous time of my life. In fact, I still believe training for my first marathon saved me from my depression pulling me under during that time.

You can read more about my first marathon here; I essentially blogged through my entire training journey right up to race day.

After I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, I still needed to decide if I was going to keep going or not. 

And I decided to run.

I feel confident when I run. I feel strong when I run. I feel like there is no problem in life I cannot tackle when I run. I feel unstoppable; and I feel hope, hope that the race will soon be over, hope of the finish line that is in front of me, whether I can see it or not. It keeps me consistently setting goals. Even if I decide to run a half marathon instead of a full, I still set a goal and I still have something to run to. Running gives me purpose in a practical sense. It keeps me strong. It keeps me fit. It keeps me healthy. It keeps me moving forward, and forward motion has been a fight ever since depression has become a struggle for me. That is why I run.

Running has become a personal source of emotional stability and physical empowerment. Through running, I have learned a lot about life. I have also learned a lot about myself. It brings balance to my state of being; when I’m not running, I’m not doing as well as I could be in other areas of life. It has taken a lot of discipline to be where I am today in terms of running and physical fitness, and now I say to anyone in full confidence that I am a runner.

Now you know WHY I RUN. Thank you for reading my story. 

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART I





Why I Run, Part II: the seed of motivation


When I graduated from college in 2009, the economy was not so hot. Many people I know stayed in school and immediately started working on their respective master’s degrees since that option was much more appealing than going back to the minimum wage work day. I, on the other hand, left the country and moved to Taiwan to teach English and do ministry. 


In Taiwan, I kept up my running. I was getting plugged into a community that cared about personal fitness, so motivation and encouragement were not hard to come by. My new lifestyle also included a nearby riverside trail, which made outdoor walking, running, and biking totally accessible and convenient.

From time to time, I would ice my right knee, which was something I was used due to post-surgery soreness. Then one day, only 2 months after moving to a foreign country, the soreness didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse, exponentially worse with every step I took. An excruciating commute to work led me to the floor of my classroom, where I realized I was not going to be able to teach that day. I couldn’t move my leg without an awful pain shooting through what felt like my whole body, not to mention my knee had swollen to the size of a softball.

Soon, I was in a taxi, initially on my way home until I heeded the advice of the very thoughtful, English-speaking taxi driver, who drove me to the nearest hospital, which happened to be one of the biggest and best hospitals in the area.

There, in a foreign country, I submitted myself to the emergency room, waited hours for blood tests and an MRI, then finally saw a doctor who used a syringe to extract this greenish-yellowish goop from my knee. It was an infection, and I was to report back on Monday for a follow-up appointment with another doctor.

That weekend, I kept movement to a minimum but felt a lot better with all that infected goop out of my knee. On Monday, I returned to the hospital and was instructed by the doctor to return immediately if I had a fever or chills, as these were symptoms of an infection in my blood that needed to be removed, which is exactly what I did on Thursday. I spent Thursday night in a hospital; and on Friday, the doctor surgically removed the infected tissue from my knee, as well as the screws that were in there from my ACL operation. (I got the screws and pictures and everything as souvenirs!) Then I was put in a hospital room where I remained until the infection index in my blood went down to .0009 or something like that. It ended up being 12 days. (They gave me an option to stay longer. So nice of them.)

My right knee was not getting a break. Hospital life, however, ended up being a surprisingly refreshing “break” from everything else. 


I was so happy and thankful to be home from the hospital free from that awful infection (which likely was a result of an abrupt environmental and/or lifestyle change, also known as moving to a foreign country where you walk everywhere instead of drive). Perhaps I should have done some professional pt sessions to jumpstart my recovery, but I didn’t. Been there, done that, was my conclusion on the matter.

Restoring range of motion and strength were now entirely up to me. Thanks to living in the city, I walked everywhere, but it was quite a few months before I got my run back on and even regained full strength. I stayed relatively active, even travelled a lot, but was not necessarily fit.

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I had a running friend and roommate who ran pretty regularly. I tried to keep up with her, but I wasn’t prioritizing it enough. Her will-power and consistency was inspiring. A group of us traveled to a place called Taroko Gorge, where she was running the Taroko Half Marathon. Witnessing all these people running made me realize that I wanted – needed – to do something like this, too. It was time to commit. And running a marathon was on my bucket list. 

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART I: meeting my physical self

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART III: the bucket list

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART IV: the conclusion of the matter

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