The road does not care about your GPA. The road does not care if you wear makeup. The road does not care about your skin type, how many girlfriends you have had, or even the number of Jimmy Choo shoes that you have tried on.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Kengle

All the road cares about is that you paid it a visit to jog, walk, run, or just spend a little time immersed in fresh air and sunshine. It turns out, that the road is one of my very close confidants. It is the place where I run for about an hour several times a week.

When I tell my friends and family that I run and that I actually enjoy running, I get the strangest look. Their baffled and somewhat disgusted faces look as if I said that I only had three toes on my left foot, which I don’t. Their disdain for running, however, has not stopped my somewhat petite feet from pattering on the concrete through the early morning air, only my headphones and a still sleepy mother Earth to keep me company. My breath becomes labored but rhythmic. As time passes, beads of sweat roll down my freckled cheek and my face flushes pink with exertion. Halfway through I pick up my pace, just for the shear enjoyment of feeling my heart beat a little faster. As I round the path of my running trail, I keep myself motivated, knowing that this breathlessness will soon be ameliorated and that I will relish in the surge of endorphins flowing through my system.

As lovely as that sounds, running is the most difficult exercise I have subjected myself to. It is not easy training your body to run, to keep your mind occupied for hours on end and to actually motivate yourself to get outside in order to run. If you are a fledgling runner the most important notion is to stay motivated, a concept that remains elusive for many individuals. Firstly, it has always helped me to not focus on how fast I run, rather, to focus on distance. The best way to work up to a longer distance is to set relatively small goals. Like my mother always says, “an elephant can be eaten a bite at a time,” a strange saying but its meaning can be projected to this particular situation. In addition to small goals, do not feel ashamed to walk in between running sets. Walking is often seen as a sign of weakness for runners, in actuality, it is a great tool to train your body for covering distances. Completing, a walk-run-walk-run pattern will help you build up endurance so that you can eventually eliminate walking breaks. I also advise you to invest in a quality, sturdy pair of running shoes. Inadequate running shoes can cause muscular turmoil, including very painful shin splints (I shudder at just the thought of them).

In college, there is much difficulty in scheduling a time to exercise. Classes, study groups, meetings, etc. fill up the hours of your day while studying, sleeping (occasionally) and homework usurp your evening hours. With everything going on in your life, how is it even fathomable to add exercising to your already out of control schedule? In my ripe old age of nineteen, practically twenty thank you very much, I have learned that when you do something that you love, there is seldom difficulty in fitting it into your schedule. If I had to name two things that I truly enjoy it would be: running and enjoying the morning hours. It only makes sense to add running to my morning routine. Granted, I wake up very early in order to run, but it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make. As the sun yawns its sleepy little mouth, I run on a gorgeous running trail at the back of the USF campus. Various types of large, bushy trees hide me from the havoc of the sun, creating a Zen atmosphere and a beautiful setting.

If you are infatuated with zumba, yoga, kickboxing, aerobic dance, karate, cornhole, what have you, then I encourage you to remain tremendously interested in it. The best part about these fitness classes is that they are often offered during the evening, an optimal time in which classes are finished and night time festivities have not yet begun. There is often this stigma that runners are at the top of the fitness caste system, this is not the case. You can be fit and healthy doing something that you enjoy. The more that you enjoy it, the less of a chore it is to complete. If you are wholly disdainful in regards to running, much like my friends and family, then I encourage you to find a fitness routine you love, that you look forward to doing.

Rachel Kengle is a sophomore at the University of South Florida, majoring in Psychology. She loves to be busy and is an avid yoga student, likes to run for fun, the president of a few student organizations and a member of NSCS. However, she is most known for her culinary flair as she is a very talented baker and cook. She cooks and bakes healthful and frugal dishes that energize your body and are reasonably priced. She loves experiencing new things whether it is a new fitness class, a new book, or a new language. Taking part in this blogging experience will only whet her appetite to lead a healthy lifestyle while inspiring others to do the same.