The first running coach I had was my Dad. While pushing my brother and me to run, Dad would encourage us by using inspirational sayings like, “Running is a lot easier if you aren’t crying”.
Doesn’t that paint you a pretty picture? Needless to say, I did not love running when I was first introduced to the sport. I was “encouraged” (i.e. FORCED) to run because my parents thought being active was important and my brother and I disagreed. This meant that regularly throughout the week, our neighbors could see two children crying/jogging their way around the ‘hood. We might have been a little dramatic about doing something we didn’t want to. Our parents ran alongside us as we did a one miler. I voiced my displeasure the entire way by sobbing. I find this funny now, but certainly not then.
By the time I arrived in middle school, Dad had given up on our “fun” family jogs. Now the only person forcing me to run was our middle school PE coaches. Let me assure you that I just adored mandatory running. We were timed and coaches would yell at us to make sure we ran faster and didn’t stop to walk. It is a wonder that I didn’t fall in love with running then. I feel certain these middle school timed runs have made people turn their back on running and never look back.
I was not destined to be a runner. I knew this mainly because I did not have the build of a runner. I was not tall and lanky. I couldn’t wear shorts without my crotch eating them. Those of us without a thigh gap have thighs that rub together. Sometimes those thighs grab ahold of our shorts and cause them to ride up while our crotch holds them hostage. It isn’t pretty. If I can’t even properly wear running shorts, how could I ever be a runner? The hostage crisis alone felt like God was telling me to pursue non-running workout regimes. I tried sports and was horrible. I was the worst player on my softball team. I’m not exaggerating on this one. We batted in the order of how good we were and I was dead last. Go me!
I tell you all of this because everything in my childhood was pointing in the direction of becoming a non-runner and definitely not a gifted athlete. No one was more surprised than me when I tried running in college and fell in love with it. I just had to learn a few things and change my perspective. I tossed out stupid rules like you can’t walk during a run or have to go fast. It is okay to stop and walk during a run (it is actually good for you!). If you are unable to carry on a conversation, you are running too fast. My Dad also started running marathons while I was in college. This was weird because I had in my head what runners were supposed to be like and Dad didn’t fit the bill. Runners were mythical creatures who enjoyed torture in the form of jogging and never ate junk food (I just assumed anyway). Dad is a normal guy, not a mythical creature. If he could start running 26.2 miles at 50 years of age, then I could do something at 20. As our family stood on the street and cheered him on through the marathon, I watched all the other runners. They were all so incredibly different. Some looked like me and others looked like the cross country team from my old high school. Everyone was at varying fitness levels and most of them looked like they were enjoying themselves.
I laced up my running shoes 13 years ago and have never stopped.
Do you want to try running, but are afraid you can’t do it? Let me assure you that if I can, so can you. Forget some of the stupid rules we learned in middle school or let go of silly expectations we have in our own heads and just go. You don’t have to go fast or run the whole way. Just try it. You might just find out that you love it.
Here are a few things to get your started:
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