I Am A Runner

There.  I said it out loud.  Then it has to be true, right?

See, I am the girl who hated gym.  I am the girl who is allergic to exercise. (I even have exercise-induced-asthma to prove it.)  I’m the one who would always tire first when working out with a friend.  I’m the one who caused the whole camping trip to come home early in college because my legs gave out on me (another story for another day — and it’s a DOOZIE.)

I’ve always said I’d rather diet than exercise.  And I love food, people.

But running has always held a bit of a fascination for me.  I guess you could say I’ve dabbled in running, but I always found it horribly monotonous.

Then back last summer I was doing the 30-Day Shred regularly until I pulled an abdominal muscle.  It was severe enough that I couldn’t do the Shred for a few days.  Wanting to keep up my exercise momentum, I decided to go out for a walk.  I was alone so I took my iPod with me. You know where this is going, right?

Walking with friends is one thing, but walking alone feels like watching paint dry, even with music to distract me.  Plus I was used to the vigorous workout of the Shred and I felt the need to up the ante, so I started running.  I thought I’d just run till I felt like walking again, no pressure.  Then a really upbeat song came on and I kept going.  I started to feel somewhat exhilarated.  I stopped and walked a bit to catch my breath, but once again, progress seemed slow and I found myself running again.  I was hooked.  I made 3 laps around my neighborhood loop, doing my run/walk cycle.

With the music, it didn’t seem to tedious, and every time I thought I wanted to stop, the music kept me going.  So I did it again the next day.  I pushed myself a little bit further each time — each time around the loop I tried to run to one more mailbox.

I worked up to doing 4 laps, running probably 3/4 of each before the busy holiday season got the best of me.

The first few times I exercised after the holidays, it was too cold to go outside so I went to the gym and ran/walked on the treadmill.  I didn’t push myself, and I admit my heart really wasn’t into it.  But the first mild day in January, I set out to run the neighborhood loop.

I didn’t know what I’d be able to do, but I managed all 4 laps, running as much of it as I had the last time I’d run it, months before.  I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t lost any momentum.  Since then, I’ve gone back and forth between the Shred and running, depending on the weather.

Yesterday, I decided it wasn’t too awfully cold, so I set out to run for the first time in a week.  I ended up adding a 5th loop for a grand total of 3 miles, and I ran more of the course than ever before.  I even ran up the huge hill twice.

By the end my legs were burning, but my favorite song was cheering me on, and I wanted to see what I could do if I really pushed myself.  I hadn’t worked that hard since last fall.  I felt victorious.  I have never in my life run 3 miles.  (Okay, I probably walked about a half mile of it, but still.  YAY ME!)

When I got home, my legs were killing me, and not just from the workout, although that was part of it.  But also because my running shoes are at least three years old, plus they were cheap and never fit that great.  I knew that it was time to put them to bed or risk injury.

Still pumped from my 3-mile accomplishment, I drove right over the Chester County Running Store, prepared to gear up for my newest hobby.  The gentleman that works there was wonderful.  He asked what he could do for me, and I found myself saying, “I am a beginner runner.”  I stopped short and kind of laughed.

It sounded funny to my ears.  But you know what?  There is no reason why I CAN’T be a runner. Turns out, all I needed was an iPod loaded with energizing music and a little bit of self discipline.  I used to feel like every step was a struggle, but now the hardest part is putting on the clothes and choosing to hit the pavement.  Once I’m out the door, I’m golden.

To tell the truth, this post from Stephanie has been a huge motivation.  I’d seen her talk about running over the years, and I’d wrongly assumed that she’s one of those people naturally inclined to exercising and running.  Hearing her admit that she took up the sport just a few short years ago and that she doesn’t believe that she’s “meant to be” a runner was incredibly encouraging.

Back at the running store, a knowledgeable member of the sales staff helped me find a brand new pair of Brooks running shoes that feel tailor-made for my feet.

I took a look at the soles of my old shoes when I got home, and the tread is almost worn clean off.  YIKES!  It’s a wonder I haven’t injured myself already.  I gleefully dropped them in the trash and replaced them with these beauties.


AND.  That’s not all.

I am going to run a 5K.

I can honestly say those are 7 words I never expected to hear coming out of my mouth.  Feeling high on life and perhaps a little bit cocky as I watched purchased my new running gear, I impulsively asked where I could find a 5K.  Eager to initiate a new runner into the community, they showed me a shelf full of stacks of pamphlets advertising 5K races in the area.  He picked up one that he recommends for newbies, explaining that it is a flat trail and there will be lots of beginners so I won’t feel intimidated, and added it to my bag.

Just so I won’t chicken out, I brought the pamphlet home and laid it on the kitchen counter, and last night at dinner I proudly showed my family my new shoes AND the application for the race.  It’s not until May so I have plenty of time to train.  I’m already doing 3 miles, so now I just have to get to the point that I’m running all of it, and I’d like to get my time to something respectable.

What IS respectable for a 5K?  I don’t expect to win anything; I just don’t want to be dragging up the rear.  I’ve spent too much of my life dragging up the rear, but not this time.

How about you?  Is there something you’re doing that you NEVER thought you’d do?  I’d love to hear about it.

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93 thoughts on “I Am A Runner

  1. i am training right now for my first half marathon. (it’s the disney princess half marathon at disney world in 2 weeks.) before this the most i had ever run was maybe 4-5 miles and that was probably 10 years and 4 kids ago in college. when i started in october i could only run a mile, but today i’m heading out for my final long run before the race, 11 miles. (also someone else mentioned audiobooks. for my short runs, i like music. i think it keeps my times shorter. but for anything over 5-6, my ADD hits hard and i have to listen to a book or i go crazy.) keep it up! if i can do it, you can.

  2. yippee for you. sadly for me, what with my ms & all running isn’t in my future. BUTT…(teehee)
    my dh has been known to run a marathon or ten or twelve and i am his Athletic Supporter!!

    all good (male) athletes need one of those! so i have proudly been his for years!! i am sure you need support….i can still support you, i will just have to find a cuter name for it!

    i am very proud of you. i know what it takes. i also know how addicting it becomes (in a totally good way) and your body will become so dang willowy!!! =)

  3. Ok, you’re inspiring me once again! I’ve been thinking about training for a 5K, but right now I doubt I could run a mile. In high school I played soccer and could run long distances easily (though I hated distance running, preferred sprints). This post is just the inspiration I needed to get back out there and run!

  4. Congrats! That’s awesome! It’s funny that you said you are allergic to exercise…I’ve always said that about myself (severely allergic!) and I became a runner last year. I love it! I don’t yet love it during the run so much, but how I feel at the end is amazing. I ran my first 5K last spring and was so proud of myself! Although winter has messed me up and I haven’t done much at all…I HATE running on the treadmill! I got out on the bike yesterday for the first time in a while (off-road riding) and it wore me out, but felt amazing. So I’m SO ready to get back into running! I would love to listen to music while I run, but it doesn’t work so much for me. I don’t live in a neighborhood that I can run in, so I have to go the bike/running trail or the park, and won’t run by myself in either place for safety reasons, so I always have someone running for me, and we like to talk! I think I could push myself harder if I had some music though!
    One of the most important things I learned – don’t forget to stretch…before AND after. I didn’t think I needed to in the beginning but learned quickly how important and beneficial it is. It will greatly help reduce the chance for injury. So if you’re not already, be sure to add that in!!! And don’t skimp on the stretching. I’m not crazy about the extra time it takes, but now I stretch at LEAST 10 minutes before and after!

  5. I am so inspired right now. This is just what I needed! I used to run before I had kids but since then I make all kinds of excuses, like “my body just isn’t up to it now that I’ve had kids”. Lately I’ve had a lot of stress in my life and I’ve been thinking about how running was really therapeutic.. I watch people on the path behind my house and think I could do that and it would be good for me.

    I used to love getting into the music and just running… I ran 1 5k and was so proud! I think it’s a good idea to have a goal.

    Good luck to you and thanks for inspiring me!

  6. I just finished my first 5K 2 weeks ago and it was really rewarding. I started running about 4 months ago and It has changed my life in so many ways. YOU CAN DO IT. Stick to it and stay the course.
    And hey…if you want to join me run a half marathon in May in the OC–JOIN ME!! :):)

  7. I have been a runner for 7 years (and sometimes still can’t believe that I can call myself that) so I was really excited to read about your new passion. “Walking alone feels like watching paint dry.” I couldn’t agree more! I was excited when my first pregnancy progressed (read: made me feel like a hippopotamus who couldn’t run if she tried) to walk more and chill out and not feel guilty for stepping down my running. But I quickly realized how boring it was and I ACHED to run again. 🙂

  8. Loved this post (and you are raking in the comments, so apparently I am not alone!!).

    It pretty much sums up my thoughts, except for the fact that I’m not a runner (yet???). I never had any desire to be one, but then last winter I decided I might want to try. My shins started bothering me, so I think if I’m going to try again this Spring I need new shoes.

  9. Thank you for this post and the inspiration. I’ve been thinking about jogging for some time, but I’m always bored so I try it once and give up. I never thought to take music along with me. I went out today and used Christmas/birthday money to pick up a SanDisk Sansa Clip+. I’m going to be a runner. =)

  10. Congrats Jo-Lynne!! I completed the C25K last year and ran my first 5K last April. I couldn’t jog to the end of my driveway without being out of breath so I know exactly what you mean when you say you never saw yourself as a runner. We’re going to have to run a 5K together sometime although you will probably kick my butt at speed because I am a turtle runner all the way. Keep it up!!

  11. Wow! Your post came just at the right time. I have just begun (meaning in my second week) training for a 10 mile race. Until last year, I was never really into exercising, let alone running. I did my first 5K last October, but then got pregnant and stopped running. I just started up again, and signed myself up for this 10 mile race in May! I keep telling everyone about it so that hopefully they will hold me accountable!
    Question for all of you “runners” out there…what are some good upbeat songs that you like to listen to when you run?? I definitely need some better music to keep me going!

  12. Congratulations! I was there 6 years ago. I discovered the joy of short runs. I did my first 5K the summer of 2004. Then tackled a sprint triathlon in 2005 and 2006. I loved the feeling I got when running under the giant FINISH LINE sign. And I did it for me!! For no one else but for me!! It has shocked friends and family that I discovered the fun in jogging, swimming and riding. I’m so happy you are discovering the joy too — it’s something that is healthy and for only you. 🙂 ENJOY!!

  13. ok, lady. this particular post may just provide the impetus for us to finally meet up 😉 i’ve been back at the gym busting my heiny on the elliptical on a daily basis, and comtemplating (once again….) training for a 5K. (i’ve gotten almost all the way through the couch-to-5K program before, but never finished, or actually registered for a race.) perhaps running a local 5K *with* the accountability of having a ‘training buddy’ could get me to finally put my money where my mouth is….whatcha think?

  14. I think this is FABULOUS! I love the fact that you kept going, kept motivating your self and got the right equipment! That is wonderful!!

    I have thought about running…but I just don’t know…

  15. I think it is awesome that you’re a convert. I’m been a runner for two decades. Totally addictive. What I never thought I’d love was motherhood. I didn’t have kids until my late 30s (had to find the right man) and it’s been incredibly worth the wait.

  16. Yes.You.Are.

    I am so proud of you!

    And I can’t wait until you run your first 5K. Something tells me it won’t be your last. 5Ks are so incredibly inspiring {I need to sign up for another one soon}.

  17. and my post would be i used to be a runner. someday i dream of getting back there. i need to go with the attitude of being a newbie again i am so out of shape. we should do a 5K together!!!! let me know i could use the motivation! xo col

    1. I would LOVE that. The 5K is on the Sckuykill trail. It’s flat. For beginners like me. 🙂 I’d love to have company.

  18. J-L, this is fantastic! I’m so proud of you! You’re probably a bit beyond this, but I would highly recommend the Couch to 5K plan (you can just print it off the website for reference). It alternates walking and running, which I found super for building up strength and preventing injury. -christine

  19. Love this post. I have tried to get into running so many times, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t breathe after the first minute or so. Not just that I couldn’t catch my breath, but literally didn’t feel like I could take in enough oxygen. How can someone tell if they have exercise induced asthma? Wonder if that’s been my problem all these years?

    1. Sounds like it, Kelley. If I were you, I’d go get it checked out. Let me know what you find out!

  20. Jo-Lynne, I can’t believe I am just now seeing this post, but, I guess timing is everything! 🙂 I say that because last year I wouldn’t have been able to share in your enthusiasm, but having begun C25K in February, completed the program in early April, and now with two 5K’s under my belt, I can TOTALLY relate!

    I have spent my entire adult life trying to find a form of exercise I didn’t hate. NEVER found anything! Tried lots! I never considered running as an option because I didn’t think I could do it. Enter C25K, a running partner times 2 (my hubby and a friend), and I am completely hooked! I LOVE RUNNING!

    I haven’t gotten the right music playlist yet, so I’m going to go check out your recommendations on that next. 🙂

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