I’ve never run a race before; in fact, I’ve never really run consistently at all. My current best 5K time is 33 minutes and right now the longest distance I’ve ever run is 7.5K (it was less of a run and more of a shuffle). Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I out of shape — I do CrossFit and weight-lift, but as any runner can attest, it’s apples to oranges. Every run leaves me winded and sore, I dread the thought of lacing up my shoes and relish in the victory of being able to run an entire 30 minutes without having to walk.
I didn’t play any sports as a kid and my first interactions with physical activity came in my very late teens as I began to dabble in the gym. Eventually I became consistent when I started working with a weightlifting coach and fell in love with the sport. I went from squatting the barbell to squatting double my bodyweight and the pride I felt in myself was indescribable, but it took years of hard work.
I want everyone to know that feeling but I also get that it’s scary. Starting something you’ve never done before is not only hard on the body, but also, the ego. Once a week I go to the YYC Run Crew with the knowledge that I’ll be the last to finish and I happily tell everyone I meet. I take pride in my role as the slowest, because if even one person feels more comfortable being there, I’ve trudged along for a good reason.
Every week I see a small glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the run, and I don’t just mean the burger (although that helps). I feel a little less out of my element and a little more like a member of the team. The people I meet are friendly and encouraging, and the community is more welcoming than I thought. I’m discovering that running is not hard because people will judge me or make fun of me, it’s inaccessible because of the fear I let mask as reasons not to try new things.
“I can’t run” is a story I’ve been telling myself and anyone who will listen to me since the first time I stared down a treadmill many years ago. Stories get old and I’m sick of enabling others to tell me they can’t run either. I’ve registered for the Calgary Half Marathon and will begin training a few times a week in January. I’m going to be in school part-time, working full-time and still doing weight training but with the help of a running coach and a whole lot of caffeine, I will run the entire half.
January is a damn cold time to pick up an outdoor sport but who doesn’t love a good New Year’s goal? So here it is, an open invitation to join me by following along with this blog or in person and joining me once a week at my run club. Come hither all ye newbie runners so we may shuffle along together.
A freelance writer, journalism student and donut connoisseur living in Calgary, Alta.