I am a runner. I like to run.
But that doesn’t mean I’m a good runner. I can’t run very fast, or I get out of breath. I don’t tend to run very far. I take a lot of walking breaks when I run. I don’t like to run when it’s sunny, because the heat makes me crazy and gives me a headache.
I’m a runner because I like to run. There are few things in my life that match the feeling of running a long distance. Or looking at the distance you’ve come and realizing that crossed that all on your own two feet.
Running is convenient. All you need is shoes and running clothes, and you can run anywhere. But if you want to do aerobics, or lift weights, or climb stairs, you have to go an a class, a gym, buy some weights, find some stairs.
Running is wherever you are. For me, it’s right outside my house. I run down the street, as far as I can, and then I come home. I do this because I know I lack the willpower to do loops. If I have the opportunity to come home and stop running, I will. But if I run 4 miles away from my house, then I know I have to run another 4 miles to get home. I force myself to do it. I forced myself to do it today.
I’m not a pretty runner. Some women you see, at the gym, with their long blond hair and their sports bras and no shirt, running blithely along at 5, 6, maybe 18 miles per hour without breaking a sweat or breathing heavily. Not me. I get red in the face, I sweat a lot, I randomly stop and walk and even sit down. I don’t look good. I don’t look like I feel good. But I still run.
I hate treadmills. That’s fine if they’re your thing, but I hate them. You can’t slow down immediately, or randomly sprint. But most of all, there are no landmarks. I need landmarks. I need that fire hydrant, that tree, that stop sign to look at and tell myself, I will run there. I may not run the full distance, but I will at least run there.
Most of this summer, I was sidelined by an injury. Ironically, runner’s knee. But I’ve figured out how to run so my knee doesn’t hurt. And what do you know, it doesn’t hurt anymore.
When I first got runner’s knee, John said this was maybe time to stop running. He’s probably right. After all, running was hurting me. Running is not an easy thing. It hurts your joints. It sends jolts up your spine. It makes me cranky. It gives you blisters and knee problems and weird tan lines. But I found myself wistfully watching runners this summer, as they jogged along my street. Even in this godawful heat, they still ran. And I wanted to be one of them again. I missed the feeling of just you and your legs, powering along. I missed feeling like I’d gone somewhere. I missed the accomplishment that comes with running. I missed running through my stress, my anger. Running, like all exercise, is a reset button for me. It’s my F5, and I wanted it back.
Since I haven’t been running in so long, I’m not very fast right now. But that’s OK. I’m improving. Next weekend, I’ll run 10 miles. The Sunday after that, November 14, I’ll be running the half-marathon in the San Antonio Rock n’ Roll marathon. I’ll be running it with my mom and thousands of other people. It’ll be awesome, I know. People cheering you on, bands playing, running with so many people. It will feel great.
But mostly, I’m just glad to be back in my running shoes.