The Beginning

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

Walt Disney

I'm not sure exactly when I became a runner. I can tell you when I began regularly running, but I don't think that's the same thing. Growing up running seemed to be a punishment. Maybe you've read those shirts: "My sport is your sport's punishment." Cute. Humorous. But not so much if you don't love running. And that's where I was for a long time. I'd run when I was forced to. Dragged along side by side with dad pushing me farther, faster, all for the purpose of becoming a better gymnast or basketball player...whichever was his passion at the time. For me it was torture. 

In high school, I can count on one hand the number of voluntary runs I took. But looking back, it's funny that even then I ran for the same reason I run now. Buried under stress, I would run to escape. Alone with my thoughts, I would push farther, faster, trying to get lost, but eventually returning home only to find that nothing had changed but my perspective.

As few as six years ago, I would laugh when people asked me if I was a runner, if I ran marathons. "Never!" I would respond, shaking my head at the craziness of the idea. Then one day, the stress seemed overwhelming. I couldn't face a crowded gym, but needed to find some relief in the form of complete exhaustion and peace. I remembered that feeling in high school after those few runs. So I ran. And I was hooked. Some people turn to a glass of wine; I turn to my running shoes. And I have never felt better. What began as a way to cope with stress has become my favorite hobby. What once was punishment is now release and peace. 

My point is this: you can't wait until you believe you are a runner to start running. My first run as a "runner" was a slow (not even) mile. In the first year, I would take my dog so that I had an excuse to take walk breaks. I didn't have a set schedule. I didn't know what I was doing. I just ran with no specific distance or time. Gradually I began to try to run a little farther and a little faster. Mostly I just enjoyed the time of solitude and sweat. After two years I did my first 5k, and then I was in real trouble. My competitive nature kicked in, and I became hooked on races. Now I love to beat my old time, my younger self. It's so very gratifying. So, the next time you are feeling a little overwhelmed, a little stressed grab your shoes and head out the door. I promise, you won't regret it. And you never know, someday you may just find yourself running a marathon.


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