I got started running for the first time in my whole life after my workplace held a 5K on September 14, 2013. I had no intention of running it – hadn’t done any consistent exercise ever beforehand – but something about it really got to me. It was fun, and everyone was having such a great time. I went home that day and resolved to start the Couch to 5K app two days later, on September 16.
And I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t run even 30 seconds and repeat that feat repeatedly. And by Friday of that week – Day 3 – I had strained the medial ligaments of both knees so painfully that I could barely walk. I was 50 lbs overweight, out of shape to a humiliating degree, and discouraged.
To this day, four months later, I can’t believe I didn’t just throw in the towel.
But I didn’t. I used a TENS unit and ice on my knees and took the time off to read about how running works: about form and technique.
A few weeks later, I was ready to gingerly try again, and using Chi Running techniques, I started making slow but measurable progress. In October, I added hot yoga to the mix three days a week, to strengthen my core and overall fitness. In December I started tracking my food, and participated in another fun run – the Santa Shuffle (see above). I walked most of that too, but that was mostly because it was showing and slippery and ohmygoodness so much fun!
In January, I joined an online group of runners called the Moon Joggers - an international group that logs their miles for mutual support and charity. It’s been wonderful, and I’ve met some of the most supportive, generous, funny, and warm hearted people.
I also started making some really dumb mistakes:
1. I started comparing myself to other runners and trying to do what they do without their experience or fitness level. While mental toughness is important in running (and life!), it’s not a shortcut or a substitute for the hours or miles someone else has put in.
2. After losing 30 lbs and getting a lot of positive feedback on my appearance, I started caring more about how I look instead of how I feel. I started eating more for low calorie count instead of energy and nutritional value, and I started feeling crappy and looking like a dried up prune.
3. I forgot why this all started in the first place. I run because it’s fun – first and foremost. Not because of times. Not because of number of miles logged, our the number on the size tag in my jeans. I run because it’s my me-time, when I am not a middle aged woman with a mortgage, an employment contract and a packed schedule of obligations. I’m free, I’m simple, and I’m unlimited.
Running is cool like that, though. It lets you horse around for only so long and then, like your mama, it reins you in and makes you look at yourself.
As you are TODAY.
I’m NOT my new friends – many of whom have put years under their belts and miles under their shoes to reach the point where they are now – running for miles and miles without stopping. To bemoan that is to take away from the with they’ve done already.
And it takes away from my own wonderful, unique journey for myself! Someday, someone will look at me and wish they could do what I will be doing, and I want to have the satisfaction of knowing what I did to get there.
Accept yourself as where you are today. Hold on to your dreams, yes, and by all means, surround yourself with people who have walked this way before and can reach back with wisdom and encouragement.
But don’t forget to enjoy your path. It’s the one that’s handpicked for you.