Monday, December 13, 2010
I never thought this post would come, but I miss half marathon training. To me, there's a difference when you're running with a goal in mind, an accountability. I guess it's the difference between running and training, really. Not that running's not fun, but these past two Saturdays, I've really missed waking up early and running farther than many people will drive that day.
Between blistering winter winds, nagging cold symptoms, and a hip/IT Band injury that's been bothering me for about two months, I've all but sidelined myself to the elliptical for the winter. But I still have my little yellow timing band from my half mary looped through my laces. It's a little reminder that a mere three weeks ago, I ran 13.1 miles. I really did it. And I'm going to do it again.
I don't know where or when I fell in love with running -- maybe admiring the sunset on my most-traveled route, the Jenks Bridge? -- but I do know why. There are times I have to give myself some serious pep talks to hit the trail, times when my legs and lungs scream in protest, but once my shoes are laced up, I'm reminded of the serenity that comes with running and the awesome sense of accomplishment that follows thereafter.
But this wasn't always the case. For most of my life, I've loathed running. I'd even venture to say it traumatized me. From finishing last in the Presidential Physical Fitness Test's mile run in gym class, to being diagnosed with Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome (runner's knee), to repeatedly causing my basketball team to have to run "suicides" again when I didn't complete them in the allotted time, to all the throwing up and side cramps in between, I've had lots of beef with running in the past.
A major turning point, I recognize, was the first time I willingly ran, seven times around the track above my university's basketball court. I'd run a mile at a time, walking most of it, because I asked Michelle and her sister, Roxanne, how they stayed in shape, and they said running. To tell you the truth, I huffed and puffed the entire time, except for when I ran past the wide windows of the weight room, where cute football boys were pumping iron.
Then after I graduated in 2006, I met my athletic JT, who encouraged my running endeavors. Even though I couldn't run a mile at a time without stopping, I continued doing so, until one day, I was magically able to push through the wall of tightness in my muscles and brick on my chest. With the new found knowledge that if I kept running, eventually this "wall" would disappear, I went a little further and further each time and eventually ran six miles, incredibly proud even though on my run just one day before, I had to call my dad to come pick me up at a gas station.
Since then, running and I have had our ups and downs, like my shoes collecting dust almost all of 2009 with knee pain. But now I'm back, trying to run and fuel smart, and armed with the full knowledge that if you're good to running, running will be very good to you. It's exercise, the chance to talk with God, discipline, a million life lessons, camaraderie, amazing music, and really cheap therapy all rolled into a convenient package.
I've had a lot of people tell me that they don't think they could ever be a runner. Let me tell you that until I crossed the finish line of the half marathon, it was hard for me to consider myself a runner. The brace-faced girl who fled from the school gym after a major running fail during basketball practice surely didn't think she'd ever be a runner. But if you (with the approval of your doctor) put one foot in front of the other, start out walking and add in running when you can, for as long as you can, I promise you can do it, too. Find a like-minded friend for accountability or call your local running store to see if they have a running or walking program like my mama recently did.
But most importantly, run for yourself!