Getting Over A Bad Breakup
I met my first serious boyfriend, Peter, during university. We had many adventures together, including signing up for a half-marathon. After we broke up, I made the decision to continue training for the race. It ended up helping me get over my breakup in more ways than one.
How we met
I was working part-time in a coffee shop at a train station while studying law at the University of Birmingham in the UK. Peter ordered a latte, to go. I thought he was arrogant, as he didn’t bother smiling, and his responses to my questions were short and curt. Turns out he was really nervous and was frantically trying to think of a way to ask me out on a date.
He marched into the coffee shop 10 minutes later, took a deep breath and announced he would like to take me go-karting and to eat cake after. I really like eating cake, so I said yes!
Signing up for a half-marathon together
Peter was sweet, kind and thoughtful. He was also determined to lose a few pounds as he had put on a bit of weight since moving to Birmingham from Kent. One day, we saw an advert for a half-marathon (21km) and how someone had lost 5kg training for it. Inspired, we decided to sign up for a half-marathon in Birmingham together.
As we trained and our fitness levels improved, sadly, our relationship deteriorated. We were growing into different people with separate life goals. I wanted to move to London and travel the world. He was happy to settle down and buy a house in Birmingham.
After many exhausting arguments and tears, we decided to call it quits. Initially, I sat at home crying and eating doughnuts, feeling heartbroken. One day, I saw a picture on Facebook of him out fishing with his friends. I felt furious and slightly jealous. He was moving on with his life and it was time for me to do the same. I would rather feel heartbroken and have a cute, firm butt than feel heartbroken and unhealthy.
I didn’t know where to start so I googled “half-marathon training plans”, printed one out and stuck it on my wall. I hardly ran my first 5K because I cried all the way through it. I felt so alone and it brought back memories of me and Peter running together. I half-jogged, half-walked through the lanes, wishing I could bump into my ex.
At the end of the run, I told myself that my timing wasn’t important, as long as I completed it. That’s the main thing that helped me get through the training. It didn’t matter how long it took me, just completing each target distance was enough.
How running helped
It released happy chemicals
Oddly, I found the running helped me feel less sad and heartbroken. Every time I felt sad, I would grab my sneakers and head for the hills. After each session, I would feel a sense of euphoria. I now know it’s because exercise releases endorphins. Every time I ran, I was essentially supercharging my mind and body with natural happy chemicals.
It kept me busy
After the breakup, I realised there were empty spaces of time that used to be spent hunting for food, watching movies and hanging out with my ex. To help me feel less alone and aware of the painful empty spaces, I filled the time with running. Sometimes, I would run so hard and fast that I forgot all about my breakup. I was too busy focusing on my sore muscles and tired feet.
It improved my self-confidence
One day after a shower, I noticed an indented line on the outside of my thighs. It was a muscle! My legs had become so firm and fit, they started to have beautifully formed muscles that made them look and feel strong. I felt like a superwoman. My confidence soared and I began feeling better about my body. Every time I completed a long-distance run, I felt a huge sense of achievement. I began to think less about my ex or whether I would bump into him on my runs. Instead, I started scoping out better running tracks that would challenge me.
It helped me find a new community
Running also helped me find a community of like-minded people. I stumbled upon a running Facebook group when I was googling the best food to eat before a run. The FB community shared tips and advice on how I could run better and prepare for my half-marathon. I met up with some of the girls from the group for coffee. It felt amazing having a supportive group who just wanted you to succeed in your goals. Before the big day, I received a barrage of messages from the running group all wishing me the best, sending their support and love. It warmed my heart and dispelled any doubts I had that I couldn’t complete 21km.
The big day
On the day of the half-marathon, I felt nervous. But at the beginning of the race, there was music, dancing and funny fitness routines. Everyone around me was friendly and welcoming. I ran with every ounce of energy and determination I had. I sprinted over the finish line and strangers who were supporting on the sidelines cheered me on. I felt like a champion!
Wearing the warming foil blanket like a cape
I also felt such a huge sense of achievement and that this was the beginning of a new healthy passion. That night, out of the blue, I received a text from Peter. It read, “Congratulations on your run. I didn’t end up doing it. So, well done.” I suddenly realised it was the first time I had thought about my ex all day. It felt good!
Training For A Half-Marathon Helped Me Get Over A Bad Breakup
I have since gone on to run 15 more half-marathons and two full marathons, a sure sign of a running addict! I have experienced college burnout, job losses, more breakups and failures after that first run. But one thing that has remained constant is me and my little legs that help me scale mountains and run marathons. They keep me healthy and remind me that strong is beautiful.
“You thought it would break you in two, but it made you twice as strong.”
― Eleanor Brownn
Cover image: Emma Simpson/Unsplash