Prior to signing up for my half-marathon last year, my name and the word “running” did not appear in the same sentence. I actually think the only time I mentioned running to my trainer was to say something like “running is the world’s worst punishment, eh?” Next thing I knew, I had signed up for a race that skilled runners take months to prepare for. Needless to say, running is not my exercise of choice, and I have yet to decide if my decision to train for a half-marathon was enough evidence to admit that I’d gone off the rails. That being said, I loved other exercise and I’d hoped I’d learn to love running as well.

I am frequently asked: why running? Or why do I, heaven forbid, enjoy my time spent at the gym? I have been ruminating on an answer that would adequately express the paramount position healthy living holds in my life. To say “It’s on my bucket list” or “I wanna look smokin’ hot” doesn’t do its importance justice. But before I can answer this question, I need to first give insight into my life before I began exercising regularly.

Before kick-starting my healthy lifestyle, my life, materially at least, had been a good one. I had a steady job, food to eat, and a busy social life. And yet, before exercise, my routine repeatedly came up short while searching for some ineffable “meaning.” Though externally my life was going great, existentially it was floundering. After giving some thought as to why I was feeling this way, I came to the conclusion that my disappointment originated from the separation I felt from the world around me. I spent my days inside, surrounded by artificial light, measuring my time in 30 minute segments, and going entire days without seeing the sun. Put short, I had become separated from the natural world around me; and the more I observed, the more I realized I wasn’t alone.

I sometimes find myself immersed in a world where people’s foremost thought is their next latte, and where their physical and mental well-being isn’t a thought at all. Running, alongside other exercise, serves as a remedy for the chaos that surrounds me. And that calms my nerves when I feel stressed about my up-coming marathon in January. If I were to get Platonic up in here, I’d say exercise orders my soul: It reconnects me to nature and reminds me that though it is easy to get swept up in life’s routine, taking some time out for myself provides perspective. And, over time, the next latte doesn’t seem so crucial.

Breanne Steinke is a reading fanatic from Alberta, Canada. Her great loves include Bob Dylan, annotated novels, and, of course, cheese. You can catch glimpses into her scatterbrained mind @Bree_Eli89 or at her blog.