I’m not athletic. I didn’t play sports in college. Or high school. Or at any other age, besides the mandatory ones in gym class. But 5 years ago, when my relatively healthy Dad went to the ER with chest pains, and the doctors ascertained that he had 5 heart blockages, I knew that I needed to make a change. Unfortunately, this epiphany happened in mid-February. So, with snow on the ground, I began running. First, I ran around my neighborhood, mainly at night when no one could see me, and just tried to run as far as I could, and walk the rest of the 2.5 mile track. I think the first day I accomplished half a mile of actual running. After that, I just tried to run “one more mailbox,” each day. Pretty soon, I decided that I needed an incentive to keep going, so I signed up for my first race- a 5k, put on by a national fast food chain, which is really interesting, once you actually stop to think about it. I mean, they give you fried chicken sandwiches at the finish line. What are we really doing here, people??? I accomplished my goal, and moved on to an 8k in June, another 5k in October, and from then on, I was hooked.
Probably due to the fact that I am an introvert at heart, I love the solitary nature of running. You can walk a trail with a friend and catch up on all that’s been going on in their life, but you can’t run and chat comfortably… or at least I can’t. I also love the fact that you are mainly competing with yourself. How fast did you run this route last time? What were the conditions? And if you’re like me and use basically the same running playlist, you have markers for how far you need to be when a particular song comes on (*cough* Katy Perry Roar *cough*).
I’ve learned that I like routine. I don’t mind running the same route day in and day out for months at a time. I don’t mind hearing the same music over and over. It becomes like an old friend. I don’t mind wearing the exact same running outfit, once I find one that eliminates jiggling, bouncing, and any other distractions from my running psyche.
I’ve learned that running is extremely mental (not crazy- I mean that a giant portion of having a successful run is your mental state). Yes, running is a good stress reliever, but if I’m still in the moment of stress, I will not be able to run well. I need to just walk or sit it out, because it will be hard going and I will not do well. I can’t be angry and run.
I’ve learned that I can, as long as I’m not angry, I guess, push my body beyond what I always thought I could do. I can run 13.1 miles and not fall over dead, or cause my uterus to fall out (I’m almost positive this is one of my mother’s concerns for me). I can train and become strong, suddenly feeling muscles along once flaccid arms and legs. Not so much abs, but I try…
And I’ve learned that I can be committed. I may be a loser in several other areas of my life, but I can stay committed to a goal and accomplish it. I can muster up the willpower to not quit, and I can keep moving ahead. I just completed my first half marathon, and while I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be, I did what i came there to do. And I have to admit, it felt great.
So here’s to why I run, whether I can call myself an “athlete” or not. Here’s to health and sticking around longer in life. And here’s to goals and accomplishing them. Here’s to me.