I didn’t like to run. I hated running as a kid. Hated it!
I was turtle slow and I had no stamina. Where friends were sprinting around the track or the gymnasium, I was huffing and puffing like a 60-year old smoker with emphysema!
I seriously hated running!
In PE, when we had to do laps or sprints, I pretty much would’ve rather done anything else.
And, I suck at dodgeball. I have a third grade photo with a black eye to prove just how much I suck at dodgeball.
But running, in my mind, was worse.
I’d take the black eye every day of the week, if I didn’t have to run.
If you were to ask 8-year old me what the chances would be that when I was an adult, I’d be a huge running enthusiast and advocate, I would’ve said,
“Slim to none! You’re crazy! I will never, ever, EVER voluntarily run! If there’s a zombie apocalypse, I’ll be the one hiding instead of running… or the one already eaten, because I didn’t run! But, no way will I ever run for fun. Nope. Not going to happen!”
8-year old me was wrong.
Fast forward a few decades, and here I am – a runner. And, the biggest lesson I learned over the years…
Anyone can run!
When I started my foray into running, I was literally a couch potato. (Yes, I can use “literally” because apparently we can now interchange it for “figuratively.” 🙂 ) The only running I ever did was “running late.” I hadn’t worked out in years. Add to this fact that I was never super-athletic to begin with. Yeah, to say I started off at ground zero is an understatement.
My neighbor actually got me into running. Her transformation, from a 200+-pound, soft, round soccer mom to a fit and sexy and HAPPY woman, inspired me. When I asked her what her secret was, she said –
“Running. It changed my life.”
Her doctor had given her an ultimatum – make a lifestyle change or you’re going on medications. In addition to the physical health problems she was having, she was having mental health challenges as well.
I remember her recounting her battle with depression. How it was difficult for her sometimes to even get herself showered and dressed during the day. But, that she had decided she had to do something. She didn’t have money for a gym, so decided to try running.
On Being Inspired to Run
She told me how she started off just being able to make it to the end of the street when she ran, and then would walk back home. But, the next week, she went a little farther. And then a little farther. And, every time she reached a new driveway, then a new block, then was counting her runs in the miles, she was proud of herself. She was accomplishing something just for her. And, for the first time in a long time, the darkness she had been living in for the past several years started to lift.
Although I hadn’t been depressed, I knew I was in a funk. I had no “me time” between work and 2 kids and a husband and a home to take care of. Moreover, I had no energy. I was always tired.
I wasn’t unhappy… but I wasn’t really happy either.
“You should try it,” she suggested.
I did try it.
I started, like my neighbor, just running for as far as I could (without puking).
It wasn’t far.
I didn’t even get to the end of our street before a stitch in my side had me pulling up and rethinking my sanity for doing this. But, I didn’t give up, I continued to walk to the end of the street, then turned around and came home.
A little sweaty.
And, feeling a little accomplished.
By the end of the week, I was able to easily get to the end of the street – no stitch in my side. I shared my triumph with an online group of writers I belonged to, and a member suggested I give the NHS couch-to-5K podcast a try.
The combination of running for very short bursts (1 minute) of running with rest breaks of walking, at first, were perfect! I could do this!
And, do it I did.
A month later, I signed up for my first 5K. And about 5 weeks after that, I completed my first 5K!
Who would’ve thought!
I didn’t finish first. Or even in the top 50%. But, I finished!! I was so overcome with emotion when I crossed that finish line, I started crying. I was so proud of myself!
Today, running is a part of my life. I’m still not super-fast. I will never be a top finisher, and that’s OK, because running, for me, is about SO much more than speed.
It’s about that “me time.”
A time when I don’t have to think about work, or family, or bills, or what I have to make for dinner, or that the dog needs to be taken in for her shots, or that trash day is tomorrow, or any of the million other things that are constantly on my plate.
All running is is good music in my ears and the rhythmic feel of my shoes hitting the ground, as the sidewalks and trails roll underneath me, and the feel of my breathing in time with the swing of my arms.
It’s better than yoga.
And, anyone can find that state of zen.
Even if you start off only going a few houses down (like I did – like my neighbor did). Even if you progress really slowly.
Anyone can be a runner — even you!
You don’t have to be athletic. You don’t have to be in good shape. And you don’t have to be skinny. You don’t have to be fast.
The only thing you have to be is off the couch and doing it!