August 11, 2008

Start Running

I have always disliked running. In junior high, when we had to run to qualify for the President's Council on Physical Fitness award, I always got a cramp. In high school, I just avoided the whole thing by taking bowling and archery and golf.

So, you can imagine my thoughts when my walking partner suddenly started looking amazingly fit and, when pressed, she admitted that after our nightly 3-mile walk she went on to RUN a couple more miles. I was disgusted but after thinking about it (for a month or so) I decided that maybe I should give running another chance.

I was not (am not) a natural runner. I started by running the distance of two street lights and then walking one. There were an alarming number of body parts that jiggled uncomfortably. Nevertheless, after a few weeks I could run whole BLOCKS at a time and my body jiggle had improved. After three months I could run three miles.

I'm not going to lie to you and say that I LOVE running. I have yet to hit that "zone" where running is bliss. (Marathoner Maria tells me that I just don't run far enough.) But I will admit that I'm in much better physical shape and that running helps psychologically too. If I don't run for a few days, I feel the stress build-up that only a nice run with my little running group can alleviate.

If YOU are ready to pick up a new healthy habit, I have two suggestions:

First, start slowly. Who cares if you only run a couple of blocks for the first month(s)? Starting slowly will give you a nice sense of accomplishment and it won't be so unpleasant that you avoid doing it all together. When you're comfortable, you'll naturally start extending your run.

Second, start with friends. It's hard to avoid running when your running group is standing on your driveway. It's also a pleasant way to divert your attention from your body and breathing to a friendly conversation. The perfect thing for an adventure club!

(By the way, the two cool characters above are my running companions after the Komen Run 5k. I'm the beet-faced one in the middle.)
1/13/09: This post is featured in the outdoor literary magazine, In The Mist, volume 2.1.

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