One year ago, I ran for the first time.
Sadly, that is not much of an exaggeration. Sure, I had to run The Mile twice a year through elementary and middle school in gym class. I hated every minute of it, and spent the majority of the distance walking and feeling sorry for myself. Things like playfully sprinting a short distance to try and out-run my brother or boyfriend do NOT count. It was not that I was an overweight kid who spent her free time playing video games and eating Cheetos. I was just the skinny girl who much preferred quietly sitting inside reading a book or daydreaming about the million of novels she could possibly write one day, rather than running around getting sweaty, sunburnt, and attacked by insects outside.
So why did things change?
1) It seemed so wonderful, to be able to get moving and just keep going and going and going and going. A faint breeze in your hair as you leave everything behind and move forward…
2) My love affair with carbs and sweets–and honestly, pretty much all foods–might be going swimmingly now, but I knew that the relationship would sour. My slowing metabolism would come between us one day. I did not know when that day would come, but I knew it was drawing ever closer.
3) Going to school for a healthcare profession can be exciting, grueling, and scary. Yes, scary. After lecture after lecture of up-close-and-personal pictures of dissected cholesterol plaque-filled arteries, brains physically shrunk by Alzheimer’s, and thromboembolisms the size of your fist halfway protruding from an aorta that previously belonged to a 40 year-old man…you are kind of disgusted. And scared. If you aren’t a visual learner, then maybe the long list of unpleasant side effects and complications of diseases that start out as simple as high blood pressure or high cholesterol will speak more to you: chest pain, shortness of breath, stress fractures, progressive congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attack, death. When you realize that a lot of these conditions are at least partially due to the lifestyle choices of the individual, you start to rethink what you’re going to have for lunch. Or what you’re going to do after lunch. Now, I don’t mean to say that I think if you eat healthily and exercise regularly, you are not going to have any of these problems….but I do think you are less likely to experience them, you will be older when they set in, and they won’t be as severe. I knew that I couldn’t continue to rely on my healthy weight as an excuse to not exercise.
4) I am a bit competitive. If others could do it, so could I. Previously, I had kept making up excuses, and remembering all those terrible stitches in my side and the feeling of swallowing glue while running The Mile in gym class. But around campus, especially when the weather was warmer, I would see lots of other people out running. The most inspiring ones were the truly overweight joggers with the alarmingly pale face behind the blotchy red cheeks. While I questioned the wisdom of some of them jumping straight to running or jogging, I admired their determination. This may make me a horrible person, but I also couldn’t help but think that not only did these people manage to overcome the urge to be lazy and sit around at home, they also were determined enough to not let the fear of others dissuade them from running. If I were them, I would be much too mortified to be out in public, jiggling about like that. I felt that if I were them, I would have to lose a sufficient amount of weight before I could allow anyone to see me out there running(bouncing?) around. At least I didn’t have that hurdle to jump!
5) I like to feel accomplished.
So, one year ago today, I put on a long-sleeved T-shirt, non-running shorts, and non-running-shoe sneakers, and headed out with my iPod. Yeah, so I didn’t have any of the proper equipment. I told you I am not the athletic kind, so why would I have athletic clothes or shoes? I wasn’t about to spend money on something that I might fail miserably at, until I had proven to myself that I could do it.
I made horrible time, but I did it!
My times improved, I started to enjoy it, and I soon rewarded myself with some proper gear. Then I injured my ankle and had to sit out the beautiful month of May, and the first half of June. BAH. WHY?
Then, I was back on track until December hit. Winter in Indiana is unpleasant, but when you add poor circulation, a predisposition for frostbite, and cold- and exercise-induced asthma to the equation, it equals no running. Not until it warms up some and the humidity rises once more.
Now, if only the Indiana weather would co-operate and warm up a little…