Someone I know recently told me that they would like to take up running. They are athletic and can hold their own in just about any sport. So when they told me this was something they would like to do they also had to shrug and admit that they were a bit uncertain of how they were going to handle it.
Running is way different than tennis or hockey or most other sports. If you are new to running or even if you have been running for years but still struggle, it can be very humbling. Heck, sometimes when I go to a new running group and try to keep up with runners who are pretty speedy, it is still very humbling. Approaching running without much experience can be very daunting.
Some people may come to running with a resolution to lose weight or get back in shape. It seems like a great idea and they see those lean runners sail by them and think it “looks” like a great idea. But as soon as you put on those shoes and get a few minutes in, the humbling begins. Very few other sports will so quickly tell you that you are new to it or stink as much as running will. In fact it will scream at you, “Hey newbie, this is not going to end well.” The screaming starts in your lungs as a slow painful burn and then creeps down into your legs. You will struggle through that first run and it will seem like there is no end in sight. By the next morning you may have forgotten about the previous day’s miserable experience. You might even lay in bed and think about how today will be better, until you crawl out of bed. “Hello!” your calves and quads will scream as they clench down hard. Oh yeah, there is the misery of yesterday’s run.
Very few other sports will remind us just how out of shape we have let ourselves go. Suddenly as you plod through your first mile, you realize that all those desserts you kept telling yourself wouldn’t really add up, stare you in the face. All those extra happy hour rounds start to boil in your belly and the nausea sets in.
You feel slow, and terrible and it all is just a painful reminder. Running is a serious reality check. It will tell you when you have been away too long or have been eating poorly. It will tell you that those lame workouts all winter at the gym were just that, lame.
It is for all these reasons and many more that I get so excited when someone tells me that they would like to start running or when I see someone stick with their new passion for running. I know that pushing through that first rough start is half the battle. I know that it is very discouraging to struggle to keep going even for a mile when all those lean and lanky runners come cruising by chatting with each other.
I have been humbled by running over and over again. Those moments are fewer and farther between now and I have days where running gives me much delight. But there are days when the humidity has me practically crawling home or when I run out of gas and I can barely make it through half of my planned run. I have gone to races where I thought I would do well, only to have a teenager sail past me as I struggle near the end (this actually happened to me once as I was about to win a race and a 15 year old sailed past me with 100 feet left to go). Running is an endless reality check.
That is why I love this sport. And that is why I am thrilled to have heard from so many people both on this blog and outside reach out to me and tell me that they are interested or inspired to run. During this humbling experience you will find new depths of your strength and realize there are endlessly amazing things about yourself. Keep pushing and happy running!