I’ve started something new: running. I can’t tell you how new this is to me. Well, I guess I can try. I was a deeply unathletic child. Kids in third grade made fun of the way I ran in PE class, so I responded by skipping, which I knew I was very, very good at since I frequently won gold in the “50-meter skip” Olympic event I held in my own head, while commentators noted my perfect form and stag-like, leaping style.
I’m sure you can imagine how well the skipping was received.
The message I got—the mental note I made—was that really using my body wasn’t for me. The Olympics and everything things else would stay contained safely in my head. To be fair to my classmates, I was already a bookworm with a strong disinclination toward the physical. But the jeering didn’t help. I adopted an attitude one might call, “The Pretentious Non-Athelete.”
As a result, I have run a full mile exactly once in my life. I was 12-years-old, and my PE class went outside to “run the U,” a dirt road that passed my tiny, country school, curved at the bottom of the hill and came back into town, making a mile-long loop. I usually approached the U as a potential torture device I would have no part of. I started at a brisk jog to avoid completely demoralizing our pretty, young PE teacher, but slowed to a walk before reaching the curve since it was obvious to me and everyone else that I would never finish anyway. It didn’t occur to me that running part of the way might be something I could build on a little each day.
But for some reason, one day I didn’t stop. I passed my friends and kept going, chugging along beside Amanda Lacy, our class’s best athlete, to the very last step. I’ll never forget how proud and surprised Mrs. Whetzal was to see me. Amanda said, “I don’t know why I went so slow today. I’m not feeling that great.” But in truth, she was kind, and the fact that she ran beside me instead of passing me was probably the only reason I finished.
The very same thing—the companion effect —was the little push I needed to start my current campaign. I was already contemplating a Couch-to-5K program of some kind after noticing my nice Brooks were getting more than a little worn on the bottom. I bought them over a year ago when Jeff was working at a high-end running store in Oklahoma City, and despite stressing to Jeff at the time that I planned to walk in my Brooks, I feel really bad that I have almost used up a pair of expensive running shoes without actually running. So when Tobia suggested we start a running program together, I finally decided it was time. I downloaded the 5K Runner app, and we chatted through our first session, which I think amounted to jogging for a combined total of 5 or 6 minutes.
Unfortunately, Tobia is on a medical leave from running at the moment, and for a few days after our first outing I focused mostly on the carb loading stage of running and neglected the act itself. But having jogged on my own a couple more times now, I think it might actually be something I can do. The app is helpful, finally demonstrating the lesson I never got in PE class, which is that effort does count for something, and that, minus a serious medical condition, it is highly probable I will continue to improve. I actually don’t really care if I ever complete the app and run 5K—I will be happy if I can just keep running on a regular basis without absolutely hating it.
There is one thing spurring me on, and since I have run on about three occasions, I feel qualified to let you in on this little insider’s tip: When you run, you get places faster. Groundbreaking! You can thank me later.