I’m a runner. Not one of those crazy, “run-outside-in-20-below” kind of runners, but a runner nonetheless.
But I wasn’t always a runner.
In fact, I’ve only been running for 9 years. It started back when I was finishing up my degree at Baylor University in Waco, TX. Baylor has a great gym that is “free” to students and I took full advantage of it. The first year I was there, I mostly used the elliptical machines and lifted weights (because I was afraid I would make a fool out of myself if I got on the treadmill and fell off). However, during my senior year, I noticed that all the really trim girls were on the treadmills (yes – I was trying to lose some lingering baby weight). I decided to face my fears and gingerly stepped on one of the treadmills.
I didn’t fall off.
I slowly but surely replaced walking with running and in the spring, I set a goal for myself. I was going to run the Komen Race for the Cure 5K without stopping to walk. I trained for it and got my confidence level up. Come race day, I was ready!
I almost died, but I met my goal.
After that, I was hooked. When we moved to Nashville, TN, I scoped out the various Race for the Cures, Turkey Trots, and of course the Country Music Half Marathon and ran races several times per year. I never ran very fast, but just finishing those races (ideally a little faster than last time) was enough motivation for me. Seeing the pounds come off and feeling great was obviously an even greater motivator to keep going morning after morning.
At one point, I was pretty much obsessed with running. I remember a particular Christmas Day when I had skipped my morning run so as to not miss our daughter discover her gifts under the tree. We were invited to our good friends’ house for desserts in the afternoon and I thought: “Hmmm… they live about six miles from here. I’ll just run back!” And that’s what I did. The first mile was freezing, but then it was just awesome.
In training for a half marathon a few years later, I started having knee pains a few weeks before the race. Foolishly, I ran the race anyway and ended up with a year of physical therapy to get me “back to normal.” It was a good lesson in not pushing too hard and listening to my body.
Since then, I’ve had a more balanced relationship with running. I take days off and do other activities like biking, walking, and weight training. I don’t obsess about missing a day or two here and there. Also, I make sure I listen to my body and stop when it tells me “No!”. For example, this morning I had my sights set on running six miles. About 5.3 miles into the run, the ball of my foot started hurting suddenly. Rather than pushing through the rest of my run, I slowed down to 2.5 mph and slowly increased speed as the pain subsided. I finished my six miles by walking the rest of the way.
One of the things I’m loving about being on leave is not having to keep an eye on the time as I’m working out. When one has to be in a specific place at a specific time, there are limits on how much time one can spend in the gym or on the trail. It adds a certain amount of stress to an otherwise stress-reducing activity. Even today, I found myself glancing at the clock several times and had to remind myself that I have time!
Time to run.
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