July 17, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
I think if Elisabeth could beat me senseless for something I say, it would be this: But Elisabeth, I am not a runner. And in my head, I am not a runner. Sure, I run. The verb: I run. I run at the gym, I run on the canal, I have run a couple of races. I am sure if I were chased by zombies I would run. But the noun, I am a runner, nope, that’s not me. In my head, there are things I associate with runners. I don’t have the lean runner’s body, I’m not a particularly fast runner, and I don’t have great running form. Runners eat, breathe, and live running, right? They run often and feel awesome when they run. They get that ‘runner’s high’. They run 8 minute miles and don’t feel tired, they run marathons and dream about their next race as soon as they cross the finish line.
I am many other things, just not a runner. I am a hiker. I have done the Camino de Santiago twice, I have walked day after day after day doing 13 miles a day with 15lbs on my back. I am a cyclist. I have biked around San Francisco. I have biked to work. I have ridden across the Golden Gate Bridge and over to Sausalito and Tiburon many times. I have biked across Phoenix to get to my friend’s house more times than I can count. I have biked to the gym. I use my bike as a mode of transportation.
There, you have my case, I am not a runner. Or . . . I didn’t think I was a runner. Recently, however, my brain has shifted a little bit.
I visited friends in Chicago in early June, since I had to be in the area for work. It was a beautiful Saturday morning when I rose at 5:30am (my body is all messed up these days, I can’t sleep in no matter what I do). Not having a car to get over to the gym, I thought that I would just go outside and get in a walk. As I started, I found myself wanting to run. So, I started to jog, and I jogged thru a couple of different Chicago neighborhoods. I was gone for so long my friend came and looked for me. I had gotten lost on my run.
I then went to Rocky Point, Mexico a couple of weeks ago with friends (Elisabeth was part of this motley crew). It was an escape, that weekend away from normal life. And the place we stayed had it all, including a great gym. But it felt . . . weird to go to the gym when there was a perfectly beautiful beach right out in front of us. So, I laced up, and trotted on down to the beach. And then I just ran. I ran down to one end of the beach, and then I turned around and ran back to the other end of the beach, and then I ran home. I lost all track of time, I had no idea how far I had gone, I was simply running. And it made me happy.
A week later, I was in San Francisco for work, and the hotel I was staying at had a horrible gym, but they had a partnership with a gym around the corner. The first night I was there, I went to the gym, and it was ok. The second night was the day that DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court, and the city was buzzing. I knew that I would get some great pictures, and I could witness history, if I could get over to The Castro. But going in a taxi would cost too much and take a ridiculous amount of time. So, instead of the gym, I just ran over to the Castro. I ran. And I got there and took my pictures and then I ran home. I thought, wow, pretty cool, you just ran around San Francisco.
I wasn’t just running to get in my exercise anymore, I was running to RUN. And I was liking it. As soon as I stopped viewing running as calories burned and fat lost, and started thinking about it as a way to connect with the world, with my body, I started to like it. I have been running for 7 years now, and this is the first time I have liked running.
- If you are not a runner and have never tried running because you don’t think you are a runner, because you don’t want to embarrass yourself at the gym in front of the whole world, try this: skip the gym, and start slowly with jogging for a minute, walking for 2 minutes. You don’t need to go at breakneck speeds, just move faster on your jog than you do walking. Keep it up for 30 minutes. Then slowly start the switch, run for 1:30, walk for 1:30. Then run for 2, walk for 1. And so forth until you are jogging for 30 minutes. That’s how I started back in the day, and it got me moving.
- If you have tried running, and just don’t feel like you like it, try this for a couple of weeks: hit the road, without technology, and just go. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far, just go. Pick a place near where you live, and try running to it. If you have to walk part of the way, fine. But try to get to the point where you can run there and back. And then pick somewhere further. Again, if you have to walk, walk. But get there. This act of getting somewhere gives purpose to a run, and can help you prove to yourself that you can go places under your own steam. It really could help you to find a joy for running.
- If you can’t find the motivation for yourself to run, try this: run for someone else. The reason I even started running was that I had a friend running in the Chicago Marathon. I wanted to get out and support her in the final miles when I knew she would be tired. I could never run for myself, but I found the inspiration to run for her. I started like I outlined above, little by little, and by the time the Marathon arrived, I was able to run 5 miles with her (even though my plan was only to run 2 miles). We can often do things for others we cannot do for ourselves. If you don’t have that as an option, run for charity. Signing up to run for cancer or AIDS are ways to get you committed to a run, and that commitment will likely carry you further than you might be able to go on your own.
I am a runner. The noun. Who knew?