I used to run.
I loved lacing up my sneakers to just the right tightness, grabbing my iPod, putting in my ear buds and blasting upbeat music while I pounded the pavement. I loved feeling the cool air burn my lungs, loved feeling my heart rate increase, and my muscles twinge as they got loose.
I was always a runner, but in high school I was a sprinter and distance running definitely didn’t come naturally to me. I ran a couple miles to stay in shape or to pass a fitness test, but that was it. But when I got out of college, I knew if I wanted to stay in shape and not gain dreaded pounds, I was going to have to start running.
My first step was signing up with a friend of mine for the Army Ten Miler in 2006. For someone who had never run more than couple of miles at a time, this was quite a daunting task. I started out running a mile without stopping, then two, then three. I was amazed that in a couple of months, I – someone who had never run more than two miles – could run three miles without stopping.
I trained for the ten miler, and I finished it. I certainly didn’t have one of the top times, but I set out to do something and I reached my goal – and the best part was that I got myself into pretty good shape in the process. To this day I can’t believe I ran ten miles, but every time I think about it, it shows me that I can do just about anything I put my mind to.
And I fell in love with it. I loved that quiet half hour or 45 minutes I had to myself and my thoughts, being outside and just doing something for me. I loved running the fall and watching the leaves change and feeling the first chill creep into the air; I loved running in the winter, putting on layers and seeing my breath as I ran; I loved when spring began to bloom and I could start taking layers off for each jog; I even loved summer, when I would run at dawn – the only time cool enough – and watch as the world awoke around me.
Running is a commitment, to yourself and your body – it’s not something you can do once-in-a-while and just pick up where you left off. Take a week or more off, and you’re back to square one.
That brings us back to the present, and I’ve lost that running feeling. I began with “I used to run” because had a baby in 2009, and haven’t run since. It’s taken me a lot longer than I hoped to get my fitness level back, and the thought of running … well, frankly, it scares me. I know that if I go on a jog, I’m going to be huffing and puffing within five minutes, and I hate – I repeat hate – not doing well at something.
I know it’s a sorry excuse, and I know there’s no way to get my running back unless I start, but it’s just so daunting. I have to think back to 2006, when I could barely run two miles in April, and by October I ran a ten-mile road race. I have to remember that I can do it, because I have done it. I know it will take me longer to get back to where I was because of all of the time and because my body has changed, but I think I owe it to myself. I miss that running feeling.
What are you afraid of? Some of you may think that there are things you can’t do, maybe you have your own “ten miler” that you have always wanted to do, but can’t see the path that takes you there.
Sometimes you have to start small. So this year, I’ve set myself a new goal: this year I will run in a 5K race, and I will run the entire thing. I know it’s a small goal, maybe it seem easy to some, but we all have to start somewhere.
I will get back that running feeling.