I realized that my little running story isn’t so little, so stay tuned later this week for part II.
I think every healthy living blog has a running story.
And I’m no exception.
My running story begins way way back in early high school. I hated running. Really hated it. Despite having played soccer for several years I hated running. Running was the worst part of soccer, kicking the ball was much better, but running? Ugh!
Somehow in January of grade nine my mom got me out running. It was slow, it was short (we ran a 1km loop around the block) but it was running (mostly). How she convinced me out the door and onto the pavement is a mystery; all I remember is that suddenly I was running. And I was sticking to it.
But it doesn’t really matter because the running changed my life. I can honestly say that I started having more energy, and I began to feel something I had never felt before.
I grew up an active kid, playing soccer, speed skating, being dragged on countless hikes, playing outside with the neighbourhood kids, yet never considered myself athletic. And I can distinctly remember how running made me feel so much more athletic, and much more confident about my abilities as an athlete. Suddenly in PE class I would try, no more hanging out in the little cluster of girls hanging out in the middle of the field, instead I would be running after the ball, or running that warm-up mile.
And it wasn’t because I was losing weight (in fact in my first year of running I actually gained weight, but that’s a story for another time), I simply had more energy, and was doing something to which many of my friends would say, “OMG I could never do that, I hate running”. And having that admiration from peers can be a powerful tool to feeling like there is something awesome about you.
I started out doing 3 and 5ks mostly, and trained for an 8k race in the fall of that year, and a year later I did my first half marathon.
In my last year of high school I attempted to run a full marathon. By that time I had run four half marathons, and many other races (one time “winning” my division in a 15k and being awarded a helicopter ride). But my relationship with running had changed significantly from those earlier days. As my goals with health had changed (to one that often was based on losing weight) so had my mindset, all the personal bests, all the awards (medals, a fricking helicopter ride!) just didn’t matter. I couldn’t just run any distance, I had to run more and more. Where once I had thought to myself, oh my god I’m running 5k, now I was only running 5k.
And of course in that marathon training I broke down. Mentally I couldn’t do it, on a long 30k run I hit the wall. There was other things going on in life (and for a teenager about to graduate how can there not be?) and trying to run a marathon was probably pretty ambitious. Too ambitious.
I had kept running, even though I didn’t love it. I was afraid to stop, because who was I? Who would I be without running? I’d be that person I was before I started running; a non-athlete, weaker, lazier, fatter.
And I was terrified of being that person again.