COLUMN: Weekend workouts can help de-stress

Midterms have this funny way of commandeering every aspect of your life: your sleep schedule, your stress levels and your conversations with friends. This semester, my internship also had the comedic timing to get into full swing last week, so basically I made it to Friday barely functioning.

It was the first time all year that I hadn’t run at all during the week. Not once did I manage to spare 20 minutes for my two-mile jog around the campus perimeter. Not once did I make it through the doors of the Lyon Center, much less get lucky enough to score a working treadmill. It was that kind of week.

I was a little disappointed in myself because I like to believe that running has become such an integral part of my lifestyle that I could never just blatantly skip out on it. That would be like skipping dinner or brushing my teeth. Midterms, man.

So I went to bed early Friday knowing I had to make up for it. I took back all the negative thoughts I had ever had about the so-called weekend warriors, the people who squeeze the weekly recommended dose of exercise into the only two days that start with “S.” And I committed to becoming one myself just for a weekend.

My friend Jenny and I did our long run on Saturday to start the weekend off right. Jenny mapped out an 8-mile route that took us from campus to the Broad Museum and the Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown. For the first few miles, it barely felt like I had skipped a beat — I mean, a week.

Then there was something we don’t see much during our runs — a massive hill. The hill going toward the Broad is steep and long, and even the crosswalk in the middle doesn’t give you enough of the breather. Jenny and I talked about it for a long time before we actually got there, debating whether we should walk it.

But of course, neither of us had run much this week, so we didn’t deserve to walk it. We leaned forward and put our glutes into it. My legs burned in no time, and by the time I crossed the crosswalk, I could no longer pretend I had any control over my labored breathing. When I finally reached the height of the highway overpass and the incline leveled off, I couldn’t have kept running even if I tried. Jenny and I stopped at a cafe up there to get a cup of water and headed home.

By the time we got back, it was 9:30 a.m. and campus had started to show signs of life. Some students were out walking dogs or heading home in last night’s clothes. The drive-through at Starbucks was already spilling out onto Figueroa.

As awful as we had felt going up that hill, Jenny and I both agreed that it was a good run overall. And now, we had the whole weekend ahead of us. We celebrated with an Instagrammable brunch.

I have to give it to the weekend warriors, actually. There is something really fun and rewarding about taking the time on the weekend to get to know your favorite sport. It felt more like the pursuit of a passion instead of a weekday chore.

Usually, my runs during the week are on a time crunch because I squeeze them in between classes and homework and my internship. While they get the job done, there’s a difference between making running a part of your life and making it a part of your life that you enjoy. And who doesn’t look forward to the weekend?

I’m going to try to get back on track this week, despite one looming midterm project. Even though the weekend warrior life is an enjoyable one, I still like having the health benefits of running all week long. And maybe this week, every run will make every day feel a little more like Saturday.

Meghan Coyle is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. She is also the online managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Chasing Pavements,” runs Tuesdays.