I hate running and I think runners are stupid. I don’t really, but I have thought or said that phrase out loud a million times. It’s born out of jealousy. I want to be a runner! I want to be able to put on my running shoes and run a mile and look as it if doesn’t pain me to do so. Every runner in my neighborhood runs by gracefully without panting or looking like hell is reigning down upon them, HOW ARE THEY DOING THIS?!? When I run it feels like every step is the worst decision I have ever made in my life. I’m out of breath, my legs hurt, my stomach hurts, my knees hurt, my head hurts; it is torture!
The core of why this is such a hellish existence for me and such a beautiful and releasing one for everyone else comes down to the fact that I am out of shape. So very, very, very out of shape at the still very young age of 29. I can barely run the length of my block before I feel like I am knocking on deaths door. I look at how in shape runners are though and I want to be just like them.
Even as a child I hated running. When I was 5, my parents signed me up for soccer. Despite the fact that I was still a healthy and normal weight at that age, I was not an active child and therefore hated soccer. According to legend I would stand in the middle of the field and wait for the ball to come towards me, then I would kick it and continue to stand or walk. I would much rather have been watching tv, which I knew, even then, would be apart of my career.
I didn’t run at school either. I hated it there too. I would always do the bare minimum in gym classes; enough so I could pass and not get in trouble. All I ever wanted to do in school was get back to class so I could read or write, or go to recess where I would force my friends to be in impromptu plays. It wasn’t until I hit 4th grade and met the best coach I have ever had, Coach B, that I actually enjoyed running. He was called Coach B because he the most gorgeous French name that I, still to this day, cannot spell. He made us run the track every week, and for each holiday, no matter how insignificant, he held a fun run . For each fun run he would time us, write that time down on small circle of paper with the holiday design, we would then color the paper, hand it back in and he would in turn make them into button with which we could proudly display our time. My 20 minute mile of slowly walking while day dreaming was embarrassing, so I began to run. Well, I ran a little.
At the start of 5th grade, I returned to the same school, a rarity for a military brat, and once again found that my class got Coach B instead of the other PE teacher whose name is now lost to me (I want to say Dumas…). On the first day, Coach B talked about his fun runs and asked the class who they thought the best runner in class was. Everyone, including me, choose Doug, who ran like the wind and could clear the mile in no time. Coach B said, “No. It’s Emily.” I was the only Emily in class. I didn’t have words, but clearly this man was crazy. Even when I tried to run, I still had a dismal time around 18 minutes, and I hated running. I still preferred the slow solitude of walking by myself and day dreaming, but I have shaved some two minutes off my time. “Do you know why?” Coach B continued, “because she tries the hardest.” So that year I began to run seriously, no more day dreaming, and got my time down to 14 minutes, proudly coloring every button and displaying them on the ear of the Longwood Leopards pencil cup that each 5th grade student received because that was what the cool kids did and obviously the overweight smart girl who prefers daydreaming to running was super cool.
But since then, my running has declined. I rapidly fell back into the daydreaming glacial pace that I have always loved. I have tried, numerous times to start running again. I have made it up to 5 days into the Couch to 5K. I have done bouts where I run sporadically over a two week period before deeming myself too busy or too hurt to do more.
Recently, I have had times in my life where the stress was so powerful and overwhelming that all I do even think to do was run. So I would put on my running shoes, pick some upbeat songs, and run. I admit that every time I have this compulsion and I indulge myself in it, I feel a thousand times better. I was once told by a doctor that this is because we as humans, at our core, equivocate stress with exercise because our very, very ancient counterparts were stressed because they were running for their lives. I am so glad I was born in the 1980s.
Lately, I have had a series of friends turn to running. They know who they are, and how much of an inspiration they are to me. It’s watching their Facebook feeds, full of pictures from fun runs, 5Ks, and half marathons, that have recently caused me to take action. They look thinner, their outlooks on life are brighter, and in every picture they look happy. I want that too!
So with this blog manifesto, I declare that I am going to start running. You have my permission to inspire me, encourage me, send me tips, and check in to see if I ran that day or when my next run is. I ran around about a quarter of my neighborhood on Wednesday, and though it was exactly like the very hell I spoke of earlier, it ultimately felt amazing. Every ache felt like a triumph that I actually got off my ass and did something. It’s a small step that can lead to greater goodness. I skipped yesterday, knowing that I need a slow build, but I find that today I am aching to go. I sat at work all day, feeling the lessening aches in my legs, energy pumping and ready to run. It’s a foreign feeling, but it’s an Emily I can certainly get used to. I love running, I love runners, and I can’t wait to get home and run.