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.