11 Women On How They Became Runners

mooshny/Fotolia

Some people think running is the most addictive, amazing feeling in the world. Others can't understand why anyone would run. At all. Ever. But it's not so much a case of you're either a runner or you're not, it's more a matter of whether you're a runner yet. It's an exercise so many people — even those who've never considered themselves athletic — can get into. It's just a matter of starting to run.

As long as you have a pair of sneakers (and a sturdy sports bra, for some of us) you can run just about anywhere. There's something that's so back-to-basics about running as an exercise habit that makes it appealing. Running is about as old-school as it gets.

The fact that it comes naturally to us is one of its big benefits. "When we break free from the confines of things 'designed' for fitness and engage in movements that the body was naturally designed to do, that's when we see the greatest impact," says Will Torres, celebrity trainer and founder of WILLSPACE. "Allowing the body to use its full potential gives us better movement and better results."

It's a great form of exercise — but running can be really intimidating to those who are new to it. So if you need a little inspiration to get into running, here's how 11 women became runners.

1Zoe, 30

javiindy/Fotolia

"I started running when I gave up smoking — it was a good way to deal with my anxious energy. When I gave up drinking, I became even more into it. The first summer I set a goal of a half marathon, which seemed impossible. But now I've done about 15 half marathons and one full 26.2. My joints don't always like long runs, so these days I mostly stick to the running in workout classes.

2Helen, 32

Boggy/Fotolia

"I did a 5k for charity. Then I felt like I should carry on — I'm training to do a 10k now. I hate it, it's more the motivating myself to do it because I like how I feel. Once you get going, it's OK."

3Sally, 35

siro46/Fotolia

"I got into running because it was a good way of listening to Brandenburg Concerto and skipping around doing umbrella twirls as a child. (I know, super cool.) As an adult, I liked feeling healthy and strong — and I've always lived in the country, so running was an easy way to do it. Then it became an (almost) daily habit."

4Lois, 30

Tawan/Fotolia

"I basically started running because I realized I literally spent all day sitting down (whether in a car or at school or work) and felt terrible for it and just wanted to use my actual withered limbs. I just decided one day to start running around my local park, and even though it initially felt horrendous (like actual death was imminent), that sweet post-run high kept me coming back for more."

5Harriet, 30

Vadym/Fotolia

"I first started running when I was 17. A friend from school who lived nearby suggested it, and we still sometimes go for a [run] around the common when we’re at our parents. Running soon became something I did more by myself, as an escape from a busy home, and to think. Now I do a bit of both — social runs and thinking runs."

6Sara, 30

lstock/Fotolia

"I started running at [college], to help me manage anxiety and sleep better."

7Simone, 30

Drobot Dean/Fotolia

"I started running because I wanted to use my time more effectively outside of work. I got into the habit of coming home and being a couch potato. Running after work helped me become more energized and sleep less."

8Michelle, 31

mooshny/Fotolia

"I ran track in high school but I didn't really enjoy it or see myself as a 'runner'. I wasn't bad but I thought it was too boring and too tough. Over 10 years later, I was in a vacation house with my family in Cape Cod and started to feel restless. I was into spinning classes and used the elliptical at my gym back then, but without a gym or spinning class to go to for a week I decided to go on a run with my dad. My dad's an excellent runner and I was dreading it. Luckily, I was able to keep up with him and felt pretty great afterwards. I was in shock when he told me we had run three miles later on. When I got back home after the trip I started running on the treadmill and slowly increasing how much I'd do and how fast I'd go. I loved how it was such an individual sport but I could still compete with myself — and prove myself wrong. I quickly felt the mental benefits of it too. Not only does running every morning make me more ready to take the day on, I think running has made me mentally stronger, too. I'm way less afraid to take on new challenges and more often than not, I find myself excited to challenge myself. I just ran my first half marathon and I'm definitely looking forward to more."

9Nancy, 31

Jacob Lund/Fotolia

"I started running when I was in high school. I played a little bit of sports when I was younger, but not in much of a serious way. Somehow though in the summer before junior year one of my friends convinced me to join the cross country team. My family and other friends were all really confused when I did this. I had no idea what I was doing when I showed up, but luckily cross country is a very inclusive sport, and I had a really encouraging coach. He and some of my more experienced teammates taught me the fundamentals of running form, and focused on building up my stamina slowly and steadily. Every run included a warm-up and stretching at the beginning and end. I wasn't the fastest runner in high school, but I'm so grateful that my coach and team didn't push me much harder, because they left me with a solid foundation and a love of running that's lasted another 15+ years and counting. I feel really grateful for this as most people don't get to still play their high school sport every day! But I've been able to continue to build my practice, and now run marathons — and recently broke the personal best time I set in high school for the mile!"

10Lyndsey, Mid-20s

mooshny/Fotolia

"I started running when my career in gymnastics came to a screeching halt after a terrible wrist injury. I had to do something to keep me sane, and running was the magic medicine. For 10 years now, I have been running anywhere from three to five times a week. I've completed oodles of 10k races, a half marathon, and currently training for a marathon this summer!"

11Stephanie, Mid-20s

mooshny/Fotolia

"I was an athlete growing up, in every sense of the means. I played everything from soccer, to basketball, lacrosse, track and field, gymnastics, and dance. I completely flipped the script when I started getting serious about my future as a junior in high school (I was one of those go-getter Type As that knew exactly what she wanted to be). I let go of all the sports and turned to running, while working at a hot Pilates studio full-time. Initially, honestly, running was an unhealthy obsession — I was running for an hour/six miles a day, 3-5x a week —and I did a lot of damage to my knees. Fast forward to now, as a certified yoga instructor and overall fitness fanatic, running takes the form of distance or HIIT workouts approximately 3x per week. I love the headspace I get while running. It's my time to ignore emails and listen to music, and tune into 'me'. It is very much my medicine to relieve the inevitable stress associated with not only being a publicist in NYC, but a startup business owner."

Running means a lot of different things to different people, but it's clearly about more than exercise — it's about time for you.