First, let me start by telling you that I have never been a runner. In fact, I’m more the “only run unless chased” kind of person. I think the fastest I have ever run/walked a mile was 12 minutes back in high school. I only did that because they made me.
Now, here I am in my late 30’s running. It started several months ago when I went on the road for work. I started watching the pounds come on from eating out and lack of activity. I also found myself stir crazy and unable to sleep at night because I was stuck in a hotel. That’s when I decided to start an Adventure Challenge.
A big part of my adventure challenges started involving hiking. It was easy to find trails near any hotel I was at. I love nature and it has a way of centering me. It’s a good fit. Soon I found myself running on trails (well, maybe more like a slow jog). I had excess energy to burn from being in the car all day. I urged to feel alive. There was something satisifying about coming off of a trail covered in dirt, lungs full of a fresh air, sweat coating my body, and endorphines pumping so hard I had clarity of thought and genuinely felt happy. I knew I was hooked.
Recently I signed up for my first race in 3 months. I’ve never ran a race and to be honest, am a little terrified. I’m not sure I’m ready. To prepare I have started doing the Couch to 10K program and I try to hike as much as I can. Training in Kansas for a trail run can be a bit difficult. I don’t have the elevation or terrain to prepare me.
I have had an amazing week on the trails of California this week. Flying back to Kansas, I’m trying to keep myself motivated by running. This morning it was chilly and I had to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt. I hit the paved trail behind my house. It was brutal. I am not a street runner or paved trail runner. Simply, I get bored.
I am not one of those people that can zone out and meditate or whatever it is they do. I’m left with my thoughts about how much my shins burn, how my shoulders are too tense, and how I suck at this whole breathing thing. The more I think about it, the worse it gets.
It’s different on a trail. Nature guides me. The seductive curves of the trail tease me around the corners with the unknown. The terrain keeps me focused on the present and where I’m putting my feet. I’m not counting down the seconds until I can quit.
This morning, I found it even more irritating. Tired and getting lazy with picking my feet up at the 2 mile marker a girl runs by me making it look effortless. Her hair was in her perfect pony tail and she bounced off of the balls of her feet like she was born to run. Struggling in the home stretch and pushing myself even though I wanted to stop, a guy runs by with his perfectly muscular legs and long strides. He seems to almost fly by me, feet barely gracing the ground.
All I could think was how much they irritated me. And about how bad I am at this whole running thing. And about how I must look to them. Then I decided I don’t care. I get too much out of it. I feel better for it. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that perfect stride where it seems like no effort, but that’s ok. The fact that I got off of the couch this morning is enough. I know that there will be bad days and there will be good days.