Call me Paprika! I’m a twenty-four year-old pursuing a Ph.D in Positive Psychology. I’m fascinated by human motivation, happiness, a holistic approach to healing and different ways to attain overall well-being. Writing has always been one of my greatest passions, so I jumped at the opportunity to become a blogger at Salty Running. When asked what I wanted my “spice” blogger code-name to be, I was instantly drawn to my favorite spice– Paprika. It’s the key ingredient in my Grandmother’s Ukrainian goulash, and it gives the stew a deep red hue and a rich, sweet flavor. If I’m not cooking traditional Ukrainian foods or studying for my next grad school exam, you can also expect to find me running on the trails.
The first time I ever truly ran for the sake of running was in sixth grade. My gym class was required to run a timed mile for some district physical health assessment. I ran as fast as I could around our big grass field, in my flat converse and jeans. I distinctly remember feeling, about two laps in, shocked at how hard it was to suck in air. I was the first girl to finish the race (I think it was the first time I ever got first in anything). I decided at that moment that I was a fast runner, and never had to prove myself again. I refused to run again for another four years.
When I was in high school, I grudgingly joined the Track & Field team because 1) I was not coordinated enough to make the soccer team, and 2) I wanted to avoid the embarrassing standard high school gym class which my Algebra 2 teacher taught. Once again, I was forced to run another timed mile. I was not happy about this, but then again, what did I expect out of a track team? I ran as fast as I could, and promptly puked at the finish line. I’ll never forget the oddly intrigued look my coach gave me as I was emptying the contents of my stomach on the sidelines. I finished the mile in, I believe, around six minutes and thirty seconds. If my memory is right, it’s the fastest mile I’ve ever ran to this date.
After being forced to run countless mile after mile, at some point, and I don’t remember exactly when, I started to enjoy running. Running took me from a place of rigidity and stiffness (metaphorically and literally) into a place of relaxation, rejuvenation and flexibility. My lungs felt strong after a run. My emotions aligned themselves properly. My skin glowed. I felt happier. I told myself I’d run everyday for the rest of my life. Promises like that are hard to keep, even with all the best intentions.
My biggest hurdle that I’ve had to overcome since graduating from high school (and thus ending my team sport running career) was consistency. Because I’d run about three times a week for a few years after graduating, I hung in a perpetual, ever-achy, shin-splint mined battlefield. I ran a few depressing 5Ks, and busted out miles on a treadmill like a hamster in a cage. I started to hate running, and something needed to change.
Last January, I made a personal vow to make running a priority in my life. I stepped up on my training and started setting goals for myself along the way. I made it a point to sign up for another 5K, regardless of the negative experience from my previous ones. I decided to learn from those experiences, and knew with appropriate training and dedication that I could be stronger and faster. I also started eating a cleaner diet, filled with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. That made the biggest difference of them all.
I PR-ed by over ten minutes on that first 5K. My sense of accomplishment went through the roof. After that, I signed up for a 5-Miler a couple of months away, a 10K, and a 10-Miler, which all ultimately led up to my first Half-Marathon. I gave myself a full six months to train.
Six months have now passed. It has been an amazing six months. It has been life-changing. I ran my first half-marathon on my
birthday at the beginning of June, 2012. I ran a 2:09, and pushed myself harder than I ever have before. Running that half-marathon installed a sense of, “I can do anything if I put my mind to it” in me. Now, instead of sitting back, like I did in sixth grade thinking, “I never have to prove myself again”, I’m doing the opposite– wondering, “What else can I do to challenge myself?”
I cannot wait to share my stories with you, here at Salty Running :)