I would like to paint a picture for you. A woman pulls a pair of baggy, grey sweatpants over her thermal tights and adds an insulated sweater as she mentally prepares herself to face the bitter, winter winds. Adding a down jacket, gloves and giant headphones (doubling as ear warmers), she grits her teeth leaving the door knowing that her phone will die mid-run from cold, taking with it her music and run tracking app. Snot streaming down her face and dressed like Sylvester Stallone circa Rocky; she wonders if passing drivers think that she has recently committed a crime and that is why she is running. Law evasion perhaps being the only good reason to run in this weather.
Dear reader, the woman in this story is me. I am the phlegmy, pervy protagonist and I now understand why run club attendance takes such a hit in the winter. However, like many good stories, I push through the character building opposition to come out the other side victorious. Covered in sweat and peeling off layers, I relish in having bested the snow and, besides, too many people now know I’m running a half-marathon for me to quietly bow out. I’m in this for the cold, long haul.
Santana Blanchette, The Reluctant Runner
Now that we’ve thoroughly covered all of the month’s challenges, I would like to share a few helpful things I’ve learned that perhaps another new shuffler could benefit from (I hesitate to call it running yet as my feet barely leave the ground). Schedule run times into your calendar. I don’t think I’ve ever woken up and said, “boy oh boy, I can’t wait to go for a run,”, I find the enjoyment comes after. Booking runs into your calendar is just a helpful accountability piece.
Which leads us to my second tip, find a run club. Initially, it’s intimidating, there are no two ways around that. Showing up to a group of strangers, knowing full well you may be the slowest, is akin to asking to be picked last in gym class for a dodgeball team. That is where you’ll discover that you were wrong. Introduce yourself to many, tell them you’re new, and that you’re nervous and you’ll find a whole lot of support. Every week will get easier and you’ll feel part of a community, something larger than yourself to show up for. You may be the slowest initially, but not forever.
Finally, shout your goals from the rooftops. Get excited for yourself to coworkers, strangers and your favourite barista. When Janet from accounting asks how your weekend was, tell her you went for a run and that you’re training for a 5K, ask her if she’s working on any fun goals this year. There’s this common mentality that we have to downplay our accomplishments so we don’t risk looking boastful, and I wish that we could just throw that out the window. Telling people something you're working on makes you more accountable, but it also makes them feel more connected to you, it’s a glimpse into who you are rather than another commentary on the crazy Calgary weather.
I think what’s continued to stick out to me most is how much I am my own opposition. How much I convince myself I won’t enjoy it, or it’s too cold or I can do it tomorrow. I am not naive enough to think that overnight I am going to become a seasoned, confident runner but maybe one day, in the not so distant future, I can roll out of bed excited to go for a run. Maybe next month I’ll complain less about running.
A freelance writer, journalism student and donut connoisseur living in Calgary, Alta.