This post comes to us from Run Oregon's newest blogger Robin! She has been writing as a guest blogger for the past few weeks and we see her all over our Facebook page all the time. We are lucky to have her writing for us!
I'm sure that the reasons why people choose to run are as varied as the types of running shoes available. My journey to start running is just as varied and colorful as some of those shoes on the market.
I'm not an athlete. It has taken some time before I could accept the title of being a "runner". I am a lazy person by nature. I have a lifelong habit of avoiding exercise and hiding behind a fear of the possibility of pain. I came up with excuses, played sick or injured and even skipped school on the day of "the mile" for PE. I finished the last required mile run in high school (it was required to graduate) and swore to myself I'd never put myself through that again. If life had a "laugh track", you can insert the giggles there. My PE teacher announced to the kids on the track that we had to complete the mile run in 20 minutes or we would have to do it AGAIN. (She may have altered my results so that I was within a 20 minute mile pace.)
Running wasn’t something I grew up enjoying, it was something to be avoided! Of course I don’t feel that way now, but I think a bit of that lazy personality rears its head quite frequently. In fact, after running 7 half marathons and numerous 5Ks, 10Ks, fun runs and other events, I still struggle with hitting the snooze button and with motivation to lace up my running shoes. Once those shoes are on, I really enjoy myself. I just need to be able to win the internal battle and get them on and out the door! Running is a chance to clear my head, refocus, leave some of my worries and stress behind and gain a boost from the endorphins. Running is also a chance to show my kids a healthy habit and lifestyle. It’s a break from the house and an adventure for them when we play and look for landmarks or wildlife. Other times it is a quiet meditation between me and the soft thudding sounds of my feet hitting the pavement.
When did I become a “runner”? Was it when I begrudgingly agreed to meet a friend in the park in the heat of the summer in 2011 for her “couch to 5k” training? Was it when I got online after 6 weeks of training and agreed to sign up for the 5k she runs every October? Maybe I became a “runner” when I crossed that finish line, my heart pounding so hard I thought it would explode with pride (or more likely, exertion)? If that was my defining moment I should also confide that I also didn’t put on another pair of running shoes for 14 more months. I am really good at excuses and I came up with quite a few. As the excuses increased, my body started to protest.
As you can see in my pictures, I was a heavy girl. I couldn’t get up and down off the floor. I couldn’t lay on my side without extreme hip pain. Something had to change. I was far from being “healthy” when I did that first 5k in October 2011 but I was at a better place with weight and overall health than I had been in years. I did like that feeling of crossing that finish line… I was in awe that not only did I run a mile, but I finished more than 3 miles!! (A 5K being 3.1 miles. Don’t ever dis that point one.) Surely I could master that distance again? I decided to start a “New Year’s Resolution” for the first time in my life and fight to not be a statistic of someone who gives up on that resolution. I was going to run and run and find a healthier version of me somewhere in that journey. I was going to be a “runner”. I started the C25K program again January 2013.I think it clicked for me that it was “okay” for me to call myself a runner when I was the photos my husband snapped of me a year apart (to the day). The photo on the left is a dreary January day in the beginning of my training. It is cold and wet and miserable. i felt miserable. One year later and the sky is clear it is sunny and unseasonably warm. I feel good. And… I’m 80 lbs lighter. You can imagine that my knees and hips are happier.
That first 5k and the training leading up to it taught me a lot about myself and my ability to persevere. I wouldn’t have started running again on my own without the help and support I had been given by meeting with my friend the year before. That initial training had built the foundation of my running habit. It showed me that I could persevere through the mental barriers and even some of the physical discomforts and the emotional discouragement. When I started in 2011, I ran for 60 seconds and then wiped the tears out of my eyes on my 90 second walk break before beginning the cycle again. I will never forget where I came from and how difficult it was to start this journey in running, but I am so grateful for it and for all the supportive and encouraging people I have met along the way.
What keeps you moving? Was there a “moment” that defined being a runner for you?