This morning I did something I never thought I would be able to do: I ran 5 miles.
When I say that I have never been a runner, I mean that I was never I runner. I DREADED the timed mile run days in gym during elementary and middle school.
I loved soccer when I was little, but I tended to play defense because I couldn't deal with running the length of the field. Granted, I had sports-induced asthma and chronic allergies as a kid, which made sustained cardio difficult at time. I was active through dance, but never got into running.
In college and post-college, I danced and exercised sporadically but nothing consistent. Trying to go on a run would just bring dread and pain, and I never really knew what I was doing. I really never learned to "run" properly, and I would just start, regardless of form or pacing. I was also very self-conscious about running. I ran slowly and I was very aware of all the other more fit and better runners around me, especially when running around a college campus.
Last year I signed up for a 5K with some friends, and ready or not, I had to figure this thing out. I
humbly resigned myself to literally start from the very beginning. I used some app to get me up to 5k by the run (maybe Couch to 5K, but I can't remember) and started slowly, alternating running with walking for months until I could run 3.1 miles without stopping.
The 5K was really just a fun run (Color Run), but still, crossing that finish line let me check off a bucket list item. I ran sporadically that summer, but I moved and then made the mistake of running when it was too hot and I didn't have enough water, resulting in a heat stroke (yeah, never will make that mistake again) and I just never quite got back into it. I live in Florida now, and trying to figure out how to run in Florida during August is equivalent to figure out how to run through a swamp on the Sun, so I just let it go.
I didn't make running a specific New Year's resolution, but I knew I wanted to get back into it. So on January 1st, 2017, I laced up my running shoes and ran a slow and cold mile around my neighborhood. And since then, I've stayed consistent and have run 2-3 times a week.
A few weeks into January I got the crazy idea to give myself a long-term goal for running motivation, and a friend and I signed up to run a half-marathon. Luckily, it was in November so I had plenty of time and it was also in Disney World, so it would be a lot of fun.
Now the race is still a while away, so I'm nowhere near going into training mode, but I finally feel like I can call myself a runner. I've been on enough runs to see good and bad days, to realize that mile 1 does not define your run, and to find a rhythm and a pace to actually enjoy the act of running.
Running has taught me to slow down (literally) and have patience. I am not a fast runner. It takes me a while to run and the more miles I am trying to add on, the longer I am running with just myself and my music. I am okay with that. At first it drove me crazy that it would take me so long to get from point A to point B, but I slowly learned and accepted that it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to point B, its just about getting there. I think I've learned a lot about God through running, and running has helped me not only open a silence and stillness to hear Him more, but also has helped me become more accepting of His timing. I'm running towards a destination, a next step, and its more important to consider how I get there than how fast I get there. I'm putting in the work to get there, and that's what matters.
I'm getting better about not comparing myself to other runners when they pass me by on the trail. I try to instead give them a mental congratulations for getting out there and running, because I don't know what mental battles they have ragging against them. Some days it sucks and I run really slowly, other days, like today, I only plan to run 2.0 miles because I'm tired, but I break through that wall after mile 1.0 and just see where the road takes me.