I am not a runner. But I want to be.
One of my best friends and suite-mates in college was a runner, and that girl had the most beautiful legs God has ever gifted a woman. There are just something about a runner’s legs. They’re always pretty.
So I want to be a runner and have pretty legs too. But it turns out it ain’t that easy.
I hear so many people talk about the runner’s high. The buzz they get from running.
The only buzz I have ever gotten from running was the loud buzzing sound of my blood pounding in my ears as I gasped for breath and tried to avoid death.
But I decided to try again. So I bought some snazzy new running shoes and downloaded an app called “Couch Potato to 5K”. And let me tell you all something. They have a different definition of “couch potato” than I do.
I never even really considered myself a couch potato, really. I think I’m fairly active. I wouldn’t go so far as to label myself as “athletic” or any absurd exaggerations like that, but I’m active.
So I figured I could do this “little potato to 5K” program, and in no time at all, I would be a runner. Then I could put one of those cute “runner girl” stickers on the back of my car.
Well, evidently, the couch potato they designed this program for is a lean, little plain ol’ potato. And evidently I am more of a fully-loaded bring-on-the-bacon-and-sour-cream kind of potato.
It started out just fine. Warm-up walk for 5 minutes, run for 90 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, alternate for 20 minutes, and then a cool-down walk. I was strutting around the neighborhood that first week like I was Florence Griffith-Joyner. (At least, that’s how I saw myself in my mind. I am sure my neighbors might disagree, so we won’t ask them.)
The running time increased every few days, and by Week 3, I had already remembered why I hate running. That breezy little 90 second-90 second had amped up to a 3 minute-3 minute that nearly did me in. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but running 3 minutes was an eternity for me.
When I saw Day One of Week 4, I damned near quit. I was positive there was a glitch in the program. A 3-minute run, a measly little 90-second walk, and then somehow it jumped to RUN 5 MINUTES and then repeat.
I made it to the end of the first 3 minutes, but my lungs were already heaving like usual, my heart was pounding, and my shins were certain that shin splints are a lethal condition.
The 90-second walk was a mere tease that came nowhere near allowing me time to recover normal breathing and heartbeat. I swear I actually flinched when it beeped to start running again. My lungs burned and ached and I think they actually stopped processing oxygen for a few breaths.
But I made it through. I survived. I ran. (Okay, for full disclosure purposes, we could probably substitute “jog” for “run” throughout this post for those of you who are sticklers for accuracy.)
This morning, I got up and clicked on the app and became convinced that the programmers for this thing must be smoking a crack pipe. I think I should probably delete the app entirely to make a strong statement about not supporting crack smokers.
I didn’t think I could run 8 minutes if Freddie Krueger was chasing me.
But I read a passage in a book last night that said to let every action you make be a statement about WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Not to continue being and affirming who you are, but to continually work toward and take action toward WHO YOU WANT TO BE.
And I want to be fit. I want to be healthy. I want to have better discipline. I want to be skinnier than I am now. And I want to have nice legs. A runner’s legs. Or as close to that as my little stout legs can be.
So I set out this morning full of determination and motivation and all kinds of hope.
By minute 3, I was still breezing along like Flo-Jo, feeling the sun on my face and the wind at my back. By minute 5, I was starting to question my sanity and my need for any legs other than those I already have. And by minute 8, I was rethinking my life goals and who I want to be and why on earth that ever included a runner.
That 5-minute walk in the middle was a blessing though, and my heart, my lungs, and my overactive brain calmed down and rejuvenated enough to make me think I could finish the next 8 minutes.
By the fifth minute of the second 8, I was convinced that I was going to die. And I was more than a little panicked that I didn’t tell my husband which neighborhood I was running in and I had no ID on me and my phone was almost dead. No one would know who the dead woman was in the middle of the road with the largest thighs they had ever seen on a runner.
I started picking visual markers ahead of me, and I would tell myself that if I reached THAT mailbox, or THAT red truck, or THAT bush on the side of the road that I could quit. But every time I reached the marker I set, I would pick another marker and keep going.
I think part of it was I am a girl who loves a story with a happy ending, and I had already decided this morning to blog about running today. I definitely didn’t want to have to tell all of you that I quit.
So I started praying. With every breath in and every breath out, I repeated the mantra “God is in me, God is with me, God is my strength.”
And as He always does, He came through, and together we finished! I completed today’s run, and I didn’t die. And I didn’t even have Freddie Krueger chasing me.
Now, I didn’t get any buzz, and I didn’t love it, but I am so glad that I didn’t quit. I am so proud that I held in there and took those steps toward who I want to be.
I don’t know what this whacked-out program will ask me to do tomorrow, and I’m not going to run out and buy the bumper sticker yet, but for today, I am a runner.