Guest blogger Anthea Booysen shares 5 things she learnt after she began running

I never saw myself as a runner.  Growing up I wasn’t fit and didn’t spend a lot of time outdoors.  I’d never been a member at a gym until my 20’s.  Running was a sport for active people who sped down the road with minimal effort.  However once I embraced it, I fell in love with running and wished I’d started earlier.  For me the biggest surprises were still to come because it didn’t just tone me up, increase my energy levels and release loads of endorphins.  It also taught me some valuable lessons.

1. I learnt to truly appreciate my body.

I once read a statement that I’ve carried with me for years.  It said that we spend 40 hours plus at work during the week but we spend 24 hours a day in our bodies.  And while being happy at work is important, we need to be happy where we live permanently.  You get one body and it is essential to love, appreciate and respect it.  Running has taught me how to re-appreciate my body.  If I want to have an amazing workout, I need to have eaten healthy food and gotten enough rest.

2. I’m stronger than I thought.

I had an injury many years ago and after surgery I had this sense of dread that I was more fragile than fearless.  I listened to the specialist and waited to heal and only then did I gradually get back into light exercise.  I started going for brisk walks and slowly built up my routine to running.  What amazed me was how much stronger (both physically and mentally) I was.  Yes I had a painful and time consuming setback but I learnt a lesson and with patience I was able to move on.

3. It helped me process my grief in a healthy way.

Losing a loved one is never easy and when my Gran passed away a few years ago it was a difficult time for me.  For weeks I found myself eating unhealthily – getting a quick fix from sugar or convenience food.  One day as I worked my way through a box of chocolates I realised I was feeling worse with time, not better.  The next afternoon I put on my running shoes and hit the gym.  It didn’t make my sad feelings disappear – you never stop missing a loved one – but I was able to process my emotions in a healthy way.

4. Running calms my mind and provides an instant de-stress.

I love yoga and often do it on weekends to unwind after a busy week.  But running also does something to still and quiet my mind in minutes.  It is when I’m putting one foot in front of the other and feeling the momentum that the days stresses just melt away.

5. There is an amazing support structure out there for runners.

If you need advice you just need to ask – you do not have to do this alone!  Doing a 10km is on my to-do list and one day a half marathon is something I’d love to do.  When I’m ready, I know I’ve got friends, colleagues and fellow runners to share tips on what worked for them.  Not only that I know can rely on CMIYC.  The largest all women running community in South Africa has leaders and advisers available to help me on my journey.  I just need to ask.

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