THE FIRST TIME I RAN I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. The second time wasn't any better. By the third I had given up and decided I hated running. I was 13 and running was part of my gym curriculum. Once a year we had to do some test and run 5 ks around a stupid lake in whatever weather conditions mother nature threw at you. Without any preparation whatsoever. The rest of the year we played basketball or volleyball and froze our limbs off in the school gym that had no heating.
But once a year we had to prove our physical fitness by running around a lake. No wonder I couldn't do it. No wonder I felt like a failure before I even started the dreaded run. No wonder I always came in last and hated running even more. I came to hate myself for not being able to do it, but no one ever taught me that it takes time and practice to develop physical endurance.
Especially if you come from a family where daily physical activity is not a priority.
I spent the rest of my adult life wanting to achieve some degree of physical fitness, but never acquiring the tools to actually keep at it. Being a perfectionist, I always thought I should be able to 'get it' faster, be better, look better. But it always seemed so hard, so much effort. It seemed like I just didn't have the body for it, or the stamina.
How I wish, some one had showed me how awesome our bodies are. How resilient and how ready and willing to change. As long as you put in the effort and don't quit before you have even started.
As long as you train your mind to know if the pain you feel is not going to kill you, but make you stronger.
Discovering a Love for Running
Five years ago, I was, again (or still), completely out of shape. I was tired of sitting inside. Tired of feeling tired, tired of getting older and not any fitter.
I wanted to get outside in nature AND do something to get moving and get in shape.
What is better and easier than running? You only need yourself and a pair of shoes. So I decided to give it another try.
Because I could use some help, I looked for an app to help guide me. That is when I found RunDouble: a super simpel running app that helps you get from a couch potato to running 5 ks in 9 weeks. You can also use it to challenge yourself to accomplish any kind of goal you set for yourself. I decided to buy the Pro version for and it has been so worth it.
The first few weeks were hell, but gradually, I got the strength to push on and get better, little by little. At some point, I even started to enjoy myself!
After 9 weeks, I was able to run for 30 minutes in one go and I had never felt so strong and proud. Not long after, I ran my first 5 kilometers in an official race. I will never forget that feeling of accomplishment. It was definitely a personal mile stone. I even joined a running group in my area and I ran my first 10 miles (16 km).
Unfortunately, after all that running, my knees told me in no uncertain terms that they did not enjoy my efforts very much and I had to stop. This was a major set back and not great for my confidence.
It Is Never Too Late to Start Again
Fast forward to today, two years Vegan and another couple of years older...
I have started running again, because I just cannot let it go. I feel like I have not given it my all. I feel like I have let my fear get in the way of my health.
So I have decided I need to try again. It is something I can fairly easily fit into my schedule. I just need my feet, running shoes and some fluorescent tights that make me look like I know what I am doing.
Today I finished my 1st run on my 8th week. I has taken me 15 weeks so far. I am taking things slow. I watch my knees, making sure I do not over things, because I tend to get exited and forget my boundaries and destroy myself in the process. Running is not just about physical health, it is also definitely about mental health. The body will follow, if the mind is already there.
I am making slow progress again and I am enjoying myself. Well, most of the time... Some days I still hate it, but most days I love how it makes me feel when I have finished a run.
I feel like I have accomplished something and like I am giving my body and mind what they need.
I am giving myself time to work on my physical and mental self out in nature.
So if you happen to see a lady in flashy neon tights and a red face from exertion, give her a thumbs up. It could be me, or one of the other champions who have found their love for running!
PS. I am not sponsored by RunDouble, just a happy user. There may very well be other Running apps available that fit your needs just as well or better. Just use any kind of tool or app that will keep you motivated to be outside and move. It doesn't even have to be running: it can be any type of sport you enjoy, or just simply walking.