I’d like to start with a confession. I don’t run. In fact, up until a few months ago, I didn’t care for the term ‘running’.
Like any non-runner, I considered myself a high school athlete and into my adult years I relayed this to my friends and family to validate my fitness levels. I also sporadically joined classes of yoga and pilates and in turn, thought of myself as quite physically healthy… That is, until, I started running.
I was inspired to begin running by an ‘actual-runner’ and instantly loathed every second I spent on it. Every time I went outside and started jogging all I could think about was how long I had to keep going before it was acceptable to stop. I despised feeling so unfit – being out of breath, sweaty and the pain my calves felt after each attempt. After about a month I was absolutely sure people that claimed to actually enjoy running were pathological liars.
My fitness progress felt slow and sluggish, similarly with how I felt physically. I lacked the self motivation to push myself further than the bare minimum and yet couldn’t work out why I still wasn’t sporting a toned stomach. I was still running – out of pure stubbornness and with some light encouragement from friends, but I wasn’t feeling any different. As I continued to shuffle on, the whole thing continued to be both mentally and physically a struggle. I just didn’t get it – why didn’t I like lycra yet?
Then one day, as I was condemning the name of the very person who invented the idea of recreational running, I realised I’d accidentally run an extra kilometre. I then wanted the end result to be even, so I ran a further kilometre before turning around. I realised that due to the persistence of my vanity (and mild OCD), I was actually getting fitter! I noticed I was no longer a blubbering mess mid and post run, and, before long, I was mildly offended when someone would run past me.
Slowly the love affair crept upon me. I felt an incredible sense of gratitude when I was fit enough to run home from work. These legs of mine, they were a mode of transportation! Now that I was able to breathe properly and enjoy the run, I was exploring the local neighbourhood by foot and couldn’t believe what I was capable of with such ease. Each time I felt myself getting faster or pushing for longer, I was no longer doing it because I felt like I had to – I was doing it for myself. And each time I stumbled back up my apartment, it was the little glow of pride and accomplishment I felt inside that fuelled the cravings for my next run.
Then, one day scrolling through social media, IT happened. I stumbled upon a repost of an app with a little orange icon. “Strava”, as it were to be known, became the focal point of my running OCD. Who knew virtual trophies could be so rewarding? While I’m content with my growing cabinet of virtual trophies, I harbour dreams of filling it with a virtual crown — one day.
I have grown to love the slightly sore muscles, the burning lungs and the sweat that is physical proof of how hard I am working myself. My body is getting fitter and stronger each day, along with my mental health. Taking the time out for myself to run has become a positive aspect of my life – now that I’m no longer focused on just trying to catch my breath, I use the time while running to clear my head and to switch off.
I still wouldn’t class myself as an ‘actual-runner’, but I’m a long way from where I started and the finish line isn’t in sight.