Yes, I am a runner….though I am not a good runner. But then, what is a good runner? A fast runner? A runner with amazing endurance? These things are irrelevant to me, the runner, while I am running.
My husband is also a runner. He is significantly faster than me. He can run farther than I can run. You may conclude that he is a better runner than I. But to me – these attributes are simply descriptive and nothing more. My husband asked me the other day, “Do you enjoy running?” We were talking about how much he enjoyed running. He loved heading out on a weekend morning and just running around the roads, listening to music, looking around and moving.
I thought for a moment and responded with this,
“No. I do not enjoy the act of running. It is very hard and can be painful. But I absolutely love the results of running, so much so that I am driven to continue and to do it again on a new day.”
And I meant every word. Running was horrible when I first started in my adult life. It was so hard, I almost quit. I remember not being able to breathe, I remember not being able to run for more than about a minute before I had to stop. Now, a few years later, I am able to run faster than I did and for longer distances than I did – but the physical challenge is still there. It is a different feeling of challenge, but still riddled with pain and does require a level of mental commitment and focus that pushes me to limits.
Many of my friends and co-workers often seem amazed that I run. They talk about how they could never run and usually start to list a miriad of issues that prevents them from running. While I don’t doubt that they think they can’t run, I am fairly certain that there is nothing magical or special about me that I do run. In my heart I believe the biggest difference is simply in the doing. I have committed to putting one foot in front of the other and just doing it. They have not. That is really the only difference.
Now, I can tell you that there are many “mistakes” that new runners make that prevent them from continuing to run. The number 1 mistake that folks new to running make is that they start out running too fast. If you have not run ever in your life or if you haven’t done it in years, then the reality is that you have no gauge for how fast you are traveling. Most new runners begin their jogging / running at a blistering pace, one that is not sustainable without months (or even years) of training. I think for me when I started, there was a mental image of how fast runners were traveling and I just set out at a pace that seemed like running. Within 30 seconds I was gasping for air, and within 1 minute I was hunched over unable to catch my breath. Entirely too fast.
The best rule of thumb for starting a running program – go slow. You should be able to have and sustain a conversation while you are running / jogging. If you can’t… slow down. You may need to intermingle some periods of walking if you are really out of shape – jog at a comfortable pace for one to 2 minutes, then walk for 30 seconds, then resume jogging. The most important thing – just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Forget about how fast you are running. Forget about how far you are running. Simply move.
Running is a process. It is a meditation. There is a mental aspect that has become the more important / more challenging aspect of running for me. The body will respond to the work that you invest. Your heart will become stronger, your muscles will become stronger, you will become more efficient, and if you are balancing your food / nutrition – you will even lose weight. Some days you will run easier than others, some days it will feel like a burden; it is the commitment to the movement… it is the doing that matters.
Me (on the left) running in my 2nd 10 miler.
When I listen to my husband talk about his experience running – I am envious. I desire to feel running the same way that he does. He tells me that it is even more impressive that I find running so hard and I continue to do it.
But … remember… I am a runner.
There is no judgement from the pavement. The wind does not care my direction or pace. The sun lights my path, the stars guide my way.
I am a runner.