In 2012, I decided to become a runner.  My formative years had been spent skipping every running day in gym class and avoiding the mile run during physical fitness testing because in my mind running was just another word for death.  So you can imagine it came as a surprise to myself and everyone else when I decided to pick up running.  

I started with a simple run/walk workout that I would do 5 days a week. I would run for 5 minutes and then walk for 3. As time passed I could run 2 miles straight with no problem. 

By 2015 I was addicted to running. I couldn't go a day without it.

This marked the slow demise of my short-lived long-distance running career. Once I could easily run 3 miles keeping an 8:50 pace, I needed more, and I wouldn't stop until I did it. I would set goals to further my distance. I would push myself to run 20+ miles a week. Little did I know as I increased my milage, I decreased my body's willingness to run.  

As I continued to grow and my body changed I pushed myself even harder to run.  I would go miles and miles and come home with swollen and bruised knees from overusing my joints, but for some reason, I couldn't stop.  

In my mind I was toning and lengthening my legs, but the reality was they were becoming thick with muscle. I was increasingly upset with my physique, but in my mind running was the only option for exercise. If I wasn't constantly out of breath and drenched in sweat, it wasn't a "real" workout to me.

But as the weeks stretched on, my knees and legs became weaker.  I started to realize I was harming my body more than helping it, but I still kept running.  I would run with shinsplints, in the rain, cold, heat and with not a single day of rest. 

I was a slave to running.

Then I hit a wall. This past summer I ran a 10K with my dad and it was the most horrible run I'd ever had. My nose was running and my lungs were burning; I couldn't even keep a steady pace. Every fiber in my body was screaming "NO! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" So, in the middle of the race, I stopped. As I crossed the finish line I realized I was forcing myself to love something, I'd come to hate with a passion.

I also realized that my body could only handle so much stress on its joints, muscles and bones.  So, I ended my addiction once and for all.

I made a decision that changed my life.

I went 10 days without running or exercising and reevaluated my exercise regimen.  I began taking yoga classes, swimming, and road biking for fun, never forcing myself to do any of these activities, but doing them for fun instead. 

These seemingly small workout changes altered my body and joints profoundly. I no longer had swollen, achy knees, and my body began to look leaner, stronger, and healthier.  

I slowly started running again this fall, but I only go 2 miles at most and only 4 in a week.  My knees don't hurt anymore, and my body is in the best shape its been in a while.

I've never been happier to change my life and chose exercise that makes me feel good instead of constantly challenging my body to overwork itself.

I gave up long-distance running, and I've never been happier.