Against all predictions, past history and, perhaps all good sense, I started running a couple of years ago. I had participated in a couple of 5K races, walking most of the first one and dropping out before the end of the second. After that mess, I decided I wanted to be fit enough to run three miles, found a Couch to 5K plan and laced up a pair of running shoes. It hasn’t been a linear process but I do call myself a runner now.
We, my husband and I, have participated in 2 mile fun runs, 5K and 8K races, Thanksgiving Turkey Trots, even a 10K through the Tongass National Forest in Alaska as part of a running cruise. I’ve read about running, which can be quite helpful – as long as you don’t substitute it for actual running. I’ve taken months off and decided I should just walk and then I’ve realized I missed running and started again. And along the way, I’ve learned a number of things.
Sometimes the challenge is just plain physical – tired legs, sore feet, and August in central Texas are real impediments to running. When you start in your mid-50’s and you were never an athlete to begin with running can be very challenging physically. And I have yet to experience that thing I have decided is actually a myth called a runner’s high.
On the other hand, I’ve learned that I feel better generally after I make myself run. I miss it when I don’t run on a regular basis. And while I may not experience the runners’ high while I run, I do find I feel better during the days that I exercise first thing in the morning. Exercising first thing in the morning and running are both activities I never thought I would do and yet I am. That’s pretty amazing.
But the physical challenges as tough as they are, are nothing compared to the mental challenges. Getting up and getting started when you’d rather do anything else, putting on your shoes and heading out the door early in the morning when it’s still dark, keeping going instead of turning back are all very real challenges for me. Then there are ego challenges like being afraid of being slower than everyone else (or actually being slower than everyone else!) or being last in a race.
Worries and doubts, and laziness, are much more likely to keep me from starting than any actual inability to run. And what I’ve learned from becoming a runner applies to so many different activities – writing, going to the gym, tap dance lessons. I wonder what else I have told myself I would/could never do that I would be enjoying, if I would just get over myself? What might I be doing if I could just get past the idea that it’s not for me or that I won’t be any good at it. What might I be good at if I just got started? What might be fun even if I’m not particularly good at it?
As John Bingham, who just retired as the voice of the Rock and Roll Marathons, says, “…the miracle isn’t that we finish, the miracle is that we have the courage to start.”
Running has taken me places, literally and figuratively, that I never would have gone otherwise. I’m glad I got started! What would you like to do? I hope you’ll consider getting started!