Almost exactly a year ago I went shopping with Kohl's cash and picked up a pair of Nike's. My thought was that maybe this time I could start running and things would be different than the last 20 times I tried to start running. I thought maybe with the right shoes on my feet I could wrap my head around a Couch to 5k plan, maybe I could be a runner.
Yeah, I mean I kinda had an excuse to be out of shape, having three kids in four years isn't exactly gentle on the core. Realistically speaking the kids only did half the damaged, I averaged a 15 minute mile in 6th grade so I didn't even have an athletic past to fall back on. I remember having to run a mile every spring as part of our final grade and developing what felt like an allergy to the sport. Pretty much I hated it, it made my teeth hurt, my head ache, and lungs felt like they were on fire and just in general I wanted to die.
So, flash forward all those years and why in the world would I want to get into running? Honestly, because the cool kids were doing it. I watched my friends doing fun 5ks, and eventually going on to do crazier distances. I started thinking maybe that could be me smiling in a sweaty group at the end of a finish line. I feel like half my frantic get healthy spurts stem from some kind of implied peer pressure generated by Facebook and Instagram, but whatever.
Despite the obvious issues I have with stalking the online profiles of friends and acquaintances at least it kind of led to a healthy hobby in the end. I downloaded Couch to 5k on my phone, paid a race entry fee, and got myself a running buddy. You know what, it sucked almost every bit as much as I had expected it to. There were days I actually hated it, there are still days I hate it and question any decision I ever made to start. Sometimes I rationalize quitting, and I do quit for a whole day... or two. For some reason though I come back.
With all my complicated emotions in tow I learned a lot about myself training for that first race. I remember when I ran my first full mile on the treadmill at my work's gym, I threw my arms in the air and cheered like a maniac... and maybe cried a little with pride. That was probably the point at which I became hooked, and definitely the point at which I realized I was a lot stronger than I had ever given myself credit. Over the next several miles of training I learned to be kind, to forgive myself when I sucked and quit halfway through a run because sometimes that whole one foot in front of the other thing just ain't gonna happen. I would pick up the next day and this time do better. Some runs were awesome, I felt like a million bucks after, and some were frustrating and made me hate everything.
I trained and showed up on race day and finished that run with a jubilant display of triumph so intense I peed myself. No really, three kids later my bladder is not what it used to be and I totally did pee myself from dancing around and yelling at the finish. With soggy pants I claimed my participant medal and it was pretty much the best thing ever. I am 100% a fan of participation trophies, especially for myself.
That race was the one that changed everything, and it wasn't just because of the bling. Now I'm looking at a 1/2 marathon training schedule (one that I made myself no less...woopwoop) and prepping for 13.1 miles in September. That may end up being the furthest I go, or maybe not, who knows. I hope if there's anyone out there who's questioning their ability to get running, or walking, or moving whatsoever you stop wondering and just go. Doesn't matter what speed, you're awesome and you can do it, I promise.