I was one of those kids who hated running in elementary and high school. I always felt like I ran out of breath way before the other kids, I’d get cramps, and always had to walk a lot during the timed mile in gym class.
After Junior High I stopped playing sports but liked to stay active so I would run or do my Jane Fonda and Cindy Crawford workout tapes. But running was always something I hated. Even the times I’d go out with my friends for a few miles because I thought I was in good enough shape to keep up, I’d regret it.
As much as I wanted to be one of those people who could run naturally and love it, I decided that would never be me.
Then life changed
Then, I turned 39 and I found myself wanting more out of my life. I wanted to be in better shape than I was. I was bored of walking. All three of my kids were in school and I would get them to school, volunteer, clean the house, keep up with our chickens, and knit like crazy but I still had more energy and I was feeling unfulfilled.
One day after picking my kids up in the freezing cold, I drove past a woman who was running uphill with a smile on her face. I found myself wishing I was the type of person who could endure something like running on an incline in the cold, and be happy about it.
For years, I’d been listening to a 5K that started early in the morning near my home, wishing I was the type of person who got up early to participate.
We’d go on vacation and I’d look out at the ocean line and think, That would be a beautiful run. I should do it.
From wishing to reality
One fall morning I decided to take all those thoughts and dreams and transfer the energy to my legs. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t overthink it. I just told myself I’d try it and see what happened.
I went on my walking route which was about three miles. I (very slowly) jogged the whole time without stopping. I felt so refreshed, wiped out, and proud of myself. I wanted that feeling again so I did it the next day, and then the next.
A few weeks later I signed up for the very 5K I could hear going on without me, every year for over a decade. I finished first for the females and I couldn’t believe it. I was a runner.
The next month I signed up for another one and came in second in the female category. Then, I signed up for another one which took place on a freezing December day and came in first in my age group.
Going the distance
That led me to sign up, and train, for a half marathon which would take place that summer. My running continued and I always set more goals for myself. More miles, faster times, different routes, different drills, running with friends.
I felt fulfilled. It was just running, which is small. But I was doing something I’d gone my entire life thinking I couldn’t do, which was huge.
Running was my time every morning to do something just for me. I’d download my favorite songs and podcasts and feel renewed each time I returned home.
A new habit
When I went through my divorce it was the one thing I could count on every single day that would make me feel better. Even on the days when I don’t want to lace up my shoes and head out the door (there have been lots of those) running has been the constant pick me up in my life when everything else has felt out of my control.
Now, at 46 I still run almost every day. I’m in the best shape of my life and running has been the gateway to get me to try new things like spinning class, crossfit, lifting weights, and more importantly, getting through tough times.
When you put your body through a run on the regular, you build resistance and stamina in all aspects of your life. If you can get through a ten miler on a freezing day, there isn’t much you can’t do as far as I’m concerned.
Believe in yourself
I could have continued to watch and listen to others who were running, feeling the deep burn inside of me that wanted to try it. I could have continued to tell myself I’d never be a runner, I was too old, and it was just too hard.
Instead, I waited until I was ready and just gave it a try. That was it. I didn’t tell myself I had to commit to a new sport, I went out there to see how it would feel and I fell in love with all of it– the hurting, the shortness of breath, the really tough mornings when I didn’t want to go.
There is a huge reward when you discover you can do something you’ve always wanted to do, even when it’s really hard. But, you’ll never know until you give it a chance. And by the way, you are never too old to give something new a chance.