I’ve never been much of an athlete. I have always played sports, I have always loved sports, but an athlete is definitely not the word I’d use.
I was the kid that knew enough about the sport and was definitely decent enough to probably not mess anything up but I was never going to knock your socks off. In early high school (weighing in approximately 40 lbs more than I do today and 60 more than my lowest weight) I thought running was the worst punishment you could ever make me do. I would try anything and everything to get out of running…
“Sorry coach, my ankle is really bugging me- 2 miles just isn’t in the cards today.”
“I’ve had a stomach ache all day.”
I never really had to push myself, I just sort of let myself stay in this mode for quite some time because in my mind I was always going to be slow and I was always just going to be decent. I joined the track team (lol) and literally only did the 100 meter sprint because it was usually the first event of the day and once I finished I could just socialize with my friends for the rest of the meet (I’ve always been a talker, what can I say?) Then this funny thing happened, I joined a friend on a “long run” of a few miles… and I didn’t die. I was slow but I was doing it and I sort of even liked it.
Cut to senior year, still not in the best shape of my life but working towards it slowly. I completed runs without excuses and embraced the conditioning at field hockey practice. I would “run” frequently and it basically meant I would run and tell myself I could stop when I hit a specific mail box or when I got to the end of the road I could rest for a second. I just kept doing that on the same loop until I was finally able to run the whole thing without needing to walk or rest. I accidentally agreed to run half of the Vermont City Marathon about a month and a half prior to race day. I’m pretty sure everyone I told thought I was insane, I sort of thought I was insane. I knew I wasn’t “prepared” but I was just crazy enough to think that even if I cross the finish line walking, I still did it.
I completed my first half marathon on May 25th, 2008. It was hot, I was cramping, I was tired, my iPod fried itself on mile 7 when I ran through some mist (damn you, Apple) but I somehow became a half marathon finisher and that part was freaking awesome. Here is how I celebrated completing the race…
Yupp- I went to my senior prom. I danced until midnight, and then went to a post-prom bonfire and thought I was never going to be able to move from my folding chair. There isn’t a hot tub in the world that could have saved the way I felt the next day… except for maybe a hot tub time machine… I could go back and actually train 😉
Since then, I have had and up and down battle with getting myself motivated to run and be healthy. The next year I moved to Colorado and got into the best shape I’ve ever been in, eating well and working out daily and actually enjoying my very active lifestyle. I even ran another half of the Vermont City with Heather that summer.
The next few years I moved to Tennessee and kept the “shape” for a little while but lost all ability to be healthy. Eventually the weight gained and the running stopped altogether. Just over two years ago, after a “series of unfortunate events” I made the incredibly random decision to move back to Vermont. I thought back to my lifestyle growing up here and figured that I would just jump right back in to good health and being active but that did not happen. It took a few months for me to be able to learn how to run for longer than 5 minutes, I knew I had done it before but I just could not break the barrier.
Then, just as it happened before, the 5 minutes I was struggling with became 10 and just kept going from there. The biggest thing I’ve noticed in these last 6 years since my first race is how much more mentally tough I am and how much I appreciate that. Why I let myself go in these waves with running I really don’t know, it’s certainly something that I’m trying to make steady. Running is something that I care enough about to maintain but it’s also something that I’ve learned no matter how hard it gets, whether it’s a week since my last run or 2 years, I can and will pick it back up.
I have never considered myself much of an athlete, but a runner I am.
Were you a natural runner?
Have you ever struggled to start running again after you have stopped?