Last year, I resolved to eventually run a half-marathon. This year, I’m actually going to do it.
Back when I was in Sydney, I unexpectedly picked up running. I had always hated running. When they made us run the mile in high school? Torture. But I hated the high price of a gym membership more than I hated running. With the help of a friend, I was soon pounding away 5k’s regularly.
And thus I was introduced to the weird world of running.
I’m not just running, either– I’m training. After my return to Boston this January, I signed up for Boston’s Run To Remember, a half-marathon that takes place at the end of May. In Sydney, I ran whenever I was in the mood. Now, I have a schedule. I’ve had to push myself to greater and greater distances.
Along the way, I’ve met a few surprises. I’m a noob to all this running stuff. I’ve always had an image of what a runner’s life is like…
…but the reality is much different.
Mother Nature is cruel.
Photos of runners can be deceiving.
For some reason, nobody ever told me how hard it is to run in bad weather. I become complacent in Sydney, where it’s always sunny and beautiful. Even in the winter, the weather sticks around 50 to 60 degrees. Imagine my shock when I walked out of the Boston-Logan airport upon my return in January, dressed in shorts and a tank top.
There are many people who man up and run outside. I am not one of them. I run in my sport shorts from middle school and that free t-shirt I got from my university. I don’t have any fancy thermal running gear. When I tried to run outside, I was very uncomfortable.
I’ve ended up running at my school’s gym, which has a miniature indoor running track. The track is only about 1/12 of a mile, though, so I have run around that track literally hundreds of times.
Thank goodness it’s spring!
Contrary to popular belief, not all runners are stick-thin athletic models.
Photos of runners can be deceiving.
First of all, those expressions. They all look like they’re simultaneously running and achieving enlightenment. I, on the other hand, am a little less zen when I run.
Everyone’s seen those hardcore runners in their neighborhoods, right? The ones all tricked-out in fancy running gear, with seemingly 0% body fat and rippling lean muscle.
Or maybe that’s just my neighborhood.
Either way, those runners gave me a false perception of what I would look like if I started running.
But after running for several months, I still look like this:
Even though I cross-train and watch my diet, I am not a toned, athletic model. Nope, I still look pretty much the same. All you other runners out there, what are your secrets?!
Shoes actually matter.
I’ve done many sports before, but I’ve never paid attention to my sneakers. Usually I’m clad in some cheap pair that I picked up at Marshall’s.
However, as I’ve been running longer distances, this no longer seems like a good idea.
Thus, I went to a sports store in Boston and wandered to the shoe department, which happened to be staffed by a long-time marathon runner.
This marathon runner also happened to be quite enthusiastic about shoes.
After trying on many, many shoes, I did successfully buy a new pair of sneakers. On that very day, I tried running in them.
Who knew that sneakers could make such a difference?
I am now the weird breed.
Like I said before, I have never been a runner. I actually hated running. I was on my middle-school track team but only did long jump, never any running events. I played lacrosse and tennis and was always the slowest runner on the team. Runners were just an entirely different kind of people from me– or so I thought.
Now that I’m running, I’ve become that different kind of people. My friends react to me the same way that I used to react to runners.
Then they go on to describe how much they hate running.
I used to try to explain to people that I was the same way. I used to hate running. It’s a difficult sport to pick up if you’re out of shape. But the beauty of running is that anyone can do it, as long as the determination to train is there.
Now, I just accept it.
Because no matter how much I argue, people never believe that they can run too, just like I believed about a year ago. It’s weird, being on the other side of it. If only they knew my good ol’ middle school track and field days!
Despite all the pain, sweat, and tears, running is actually quite nice.
Don’t get me wrong. Running is exhausting. You’ll sweat. You’ll burn. You’ll wonder why you ever decided to do this in the first place.
And indeed, I’ve been wondering a lot about why I decided to do this. Running long distances is incredibly time-consuming. I get tired, and thirsty, and hungry.
But last weekend, Boston had one of its first good-weather weekends in a long time. The winter here is finally starting to break, and spring is starting to show through. Last weekend, then, I went running outside. My route took me along the Charles River Esplanade, a walkway along the river that looks like this:
The sun was warm.
There was a gentle breeze.
Sailboats filled the river, taking advantage of our first true spring days.
Yes, last weekend, I experienced it:
Despite the difficulties and surprises of being a runner, it’s been rewarding. A few years ago, I could barely run a mile. Last weekend, I ran ten. Sure, I might not be the poster child of athleticism. Sure, maybe I run at a snail-like pace. But I can do it! I can run!
It’s only going to get weirder when I run my first half-marathon in a few weeks. Coming soon!…too soon.
Wish me luck! Because I’ll need loads of it.