I have been running for almost two and a half years now. Slowly. I started with Couch 2 5k and now I can run 5-, 6-mile distances as long as I keep my pace, although 3-4 is still my favorite distance. I’ve been running for more than two years. The thing is, I didn’t start running to become a runner. I started running so I could compete in a triathlon. I have resisted the running along the way.
Almost always, I would start out on a run, wishing I was home already, wishing I could walk, feeling the twinges in my knees or hips. Running was a chore with fleeting moments of serenity or accomplishment. Running has been about finishing a run. Being done for the day.
During my St. A’s training, in the freezing cold, I had to practice running without headphones, I had to make sure I got out to run at least 3 times a week, I had to push to longer distances, I had to run after being on a bike for 24 miles in the wind. I didn’t always like it, but I did it so I could compete in a triathlon. My run in the race was nothing to write home about. It was a walk/run at best. But I ran across the finish line, and I was, for all practical purposes, a triathlete.
After a bad run like I had in Florida, I’m always a little hesitant to get back out on the road. I feel like every run I have from that point on is just going to suck.
But a funny thing happened on my first run after St. Anthony’s. I enjoyed it. I ran with my headphones thinking “Wow, music again!” I shut them off halfway through. I like running without music. I like hearing my footfalls, and listening to my breathing helps me to push a little harder or slow down when I need to. I enjoyed the familiarity of my regular route. I felt at home there.
That next weekend, Jen and I decided to run by the beach. The road from the beach to the main road is 2.5 miles and hilly so an out and back would be 5 miles. I’ve always wanted to run there (it’s beautiful) but the fact that it’s pretty much uphill the whole second half of the run scared me. We did it anyway. And it wasn’t as scary as it looked. Don’t get me wrong, it was tiring, but I didn’t find myself wanting to walk. I was enjoying the run.
Each time I’ve gone out to run since St. A’s, I keep anticipating that bad run. The run that I’ve had so many times before where I wonder why I do this to myself. I haven’t had it. Even if I don’t feel like going, once I’m in motion, I’m just content to be moving. I’m content to be out in fresh air, listening to the sounds, smelling spring, letting my mind wander. And even though I know that bad run is just around the corner, I think I’ll be able to pull from the really good feeling I’ve had in my recent runs and not let a bad run ruin what’s become such a good thing.
It seems I really like running now. Could it be that I’ve finally become a runner?
How did you know when you were finally a runner?