Sunday, April 27, 2008

Many the Miles

I often find myself in the middle of a run wondering how it was that I came to be a runner in the first place. I mean I have been a serious runner for almost a year now, and a semi serious runner for at least three years. I was a sometimes serious runner for two years before that. And just a sometimes runner before that. But as a child I dabbled in lots of activities I just wonder what it was that made me stick with running.

First of all, I have no hand eye coordination. Anything that requires me to watch an ball flying at me and either catch it or hit it with some kind of oblong object was always out of the question. This includes but is not limited to, baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse and golf.
I also lack the ability to pick up a routine quickly so while I do have a knack for rhythm I would pretty much fail as a dancer as It takes me hours and hours of practice to pick up a routine most dancers can watch once and simply repeat.
I probably would have been a good swimmer, I mean I swam for four years but I just had not grasped the concept that you have to work extremely hard to be extremely good. That and I did not like the girls on my team. When you're not that dedicated to the sport the people on the team kind of make it for you. In my case they just broke it.
Cheerleading was next however I still lacked that determination mindset. I just wanted to be good. I didn't want to have to WORK for it. And as that brought me up to senior year in high school I went off to college for the first time in my life with no sport to define myself by. Of course it only took about three months of college for me to realize I had to do something active and thus I started going to the gym.
I was not unfamiliar with the gym, I worked at one for my senior year, I just never spent much time working out there. I wasn't really sure what to do with all those machines. I know they had instructions on the sides of all of them, but seriously did I want to spend just as much time reading instructions as actually working out? Nope. So when I started going to the gym in college it was the treadmill for me. This was something I knew how to do. Put one foot in front of the other. Easiest sport in the world!
Wrong. well of course if you have no goals in mind and you just want to be fit than sure it is the easiest thing in the world. But my goals at the time had nothing to do with running. I was back in the gym in hopes to get back into shape to try out for the university's cheerleading squad in the spring. As fate would have it I didn't make it, but I was so proud of the progress I had made by making myself go to the gym I decided to detour my fitness plan down the road of running. The weather got nicer and I began running outside.
I never ran more than three or four miles at the most but it was a good consistent start.
Roadblock. Shin splints. At the end of freshman year I developed a horrible pain in my left shin and (stupid me) went to the doctor who (DUH!) told me to kill the running for a month or two.
So I spent that summer at the gym doing kick boxing and aerobics classes.
The uphill climb that took me from casual runner to serious runner was a slow progression over the next three years, jump started by my decision to join a training program that would ready me for a half marathon. Although they unintentionally brainwashed me into thinking you needed to have things like fuel belts, water every two miles, and walk breaks every ten minutes, the larger lesson they left me with was to accomplish something big you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to train. Sure it was hard but the feeling of finishing that first race is something I will never forget, just like the two other half marathons and one marathon I have done since. You cannot substitute that feeling of crossing the finish line after hours on your feet.

There is a loop that I often run around the river and some genius decided to graff it up with black letters saying "Why are you running?"
Better question. "Why AREN'T you running?"

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