She’s (not) a runner she’s (not) a track star

Elizabeth Yan, Editorial Board Member

I genuinely can’t remember the last time I voluntarily ran. Scratch that; I don’t think I’ve ever voluntarily run in my life before. Call me biased, but Elizabeth and running have never mixed well.

My running journey started when I was very young. I joined artistic gymnastics at the age of four, and the coaches’ favorite warm-up was laps around the gym. This particular gym was giant, and I was the youngest on my team by a year. While the other girls jogged their 10 laps with ease, I struggled to even finish 5. By the time I was done, I was ready to go home. Forget about practicing cartwheels on the beam, I could barely even walk on the ground. I dreaded the feeling of running – the burning in my legs, the dryness of my throat, and especially the way I became lightheaded and developed a migraine when we cooled down. 

And then there was running during my career as a rhythmic gymnast. We routinely ran 35 laps around the gym. The floor was always a bumpy mess of carpet, equipment, and hardwood floor, and many of us would slip multiple times. To make matters worse, we would be forced to do small tosses with our equipment while running, and let’s just say running while tossing two clubs in the air was not my favorite pastime activity. 

And, of course, running for PE. The 5K was the third most traumatizing experience of my schooling career (reference water fountain article for number one and number two). It was the winter (maybe early January?) of 2019 and I was wearing shorts. In freezing weather. By the time I had finished, my entire body was frozen and I felt nauseous. My legs and hands itched from the cold and were quickly becoming swollen. For the next week, my legs ached. My arms ached. My back ached. My shoulders ached. Even my abdominals ached, which I didn’t think would be affected by my 30-minute run.

I knew it when I was four and I know it now: running makes everything worse.