Monday, March 29, 2010


There's only one time in my life that I remember running as being enjoyable. My brother and I, when visiting my grandparent's farm in the summer, would race around their log house. First, we would each put one hand on the smooth, wooden front doors (there were two doors that met in the middle, though rarely did I see the left one opened.) At some signal, we would race off in opposite directions. It was a fairly large house, especially to a child. After running for a while, we would cross each other somewhere on the backside of the house, giggling or slapping hands as we passed. The object was to reach those front doors again first, though I can't remember who usually won, and it wasn't important anyway. The best time for this game was after dark. In the quiet, still darkness of the farm, the race seemed even more spectacular. The instant of crossing past the other person, after the minute of running all alone even more thrilling.

All other memories of running produce feelings of sadness or inadequacy for me. In elementary school, our P.E. class would sometimes have to run a lap around an enormous empty field. Way across the field was a metal backstop that we ran past then circled back. I was always out of breath, always at the last, always weak. Children are supposed to be able to run, but even as a child it was impossible for me. I wasn't overweight. In fact, I was otherwise athletic. I just could not run.

I played basketball in middle school- was fairly good at it. I decided to try out for the high school team. I knew it would require effort, so I attended a workout almost every day of the summer before my freshman year. We did basketball drills and short speed-related running drills, but the thing that got me every single time was the one mile run at the end of practice. After weight training, we were expected to go run around the track four times. I just couldn't do it. Even after doing it day after day for an entire summer, I could only work up to doing three laps without taking a break to walk. I'd do the best I could, pushing myself until I threw up. But I always had to walk at some point. This was when I was in the best physical shape of my life. I have always thought, if I couldn't do it then, what makes me think I could do it now?
I didn't make the team, by the way.

Early in my marriage, when I lived at an apartment with an exercise facility, I tried again to work up to a mile on the treadmill. I probably only gave it a few weeks, but I never met the goal.

And here I am, at age 34, thinking about running again. Part of me wants to give up and accept that I will never be able to run a measly mile. Walking might even be better for a body, and is good exercise in its own right. But another part of me wonders if it might still be possible. Maybe I could do it this time. Obviously, something about my body is extremely adverse to running. (That something happens to be the important task of breathing.) I'm a singer- I know how to breathe well and breathe deeply. I feel like I must have good lung capacity after all my years of training as a vocalist. I don't know why it won't transfer over to breathing while running.

So tonight I am going on my second run with a friend who lives nearby. Last time we did a 2 minute running/2 minute walking cycle. I suppose we'll do something similar tonight. I don't know what to expect from myself. If history holds true, then I may never be able to move beyond that. It sure would be thrilling to run a mile without stopping one day. But if it isn't in the cards, then at least I am moving and getting some exercise.

And, I'll always have the race around the farm house. One good memory of running beats none at all.


Rachel said...

Having someone run with you helps A LOT...for motivation, to push you, and just so you're not lonely! It may be a huge key to running success! But, if you do find that you just don't want to run...don't beat yourself up...walking can be just as good for you especially if you vary your speed and incorporate hills.

Supermom-In-Training said...

I agree with Rachel. I was only able to beat my mental running limit when Jon ran with me (that competitive spirit). I learned about hitting "the wall" when running and how you have to mentally push yourself past it. Plus I MUST have an awesome running playlist. Music is critical to my success.

Kaitlin said...

I've always had a difficult time running, too. I agree with Rachel in that it is nice to have someone else to run with. I'm very competitive and I like to make everything I do into a little challenge (like not being the one to stop first, or something like that). All that said, I can't remember the last time I ran just to run...but I do know it was within the last 12 months. I much prefer physical activity in an authentic setting, such as running after kids or playing a sport.

I think it's great that you are building up little by little and have a goal in mind! Good luck!