I hesitate to call myself a runner. I don’t look like a runner. I don’t own a Garmin watch, I’ve never run a marathon and I maybe own one Dri-fit shirt I got on clearance. But I’ve been running for almost 13 years, so I suppose that counts.
I never ran cross country or track in school. I didn’t do youth sports; my parents couldn’t afford to send us to soccer or whatever else the kids were doing. I played outside with the neighborhood kids with sticks and rocks. Outside of the fun games like capture the flag or dodgeball, I hated gym class. I wasn’t coordinated enough for volleyball, softball, and forget basketball. (I’m 4’11.)
With that athletic history in mind, my family was really surprised when I tried out for and made my high school drill team in sophomore year. I may not be able to shoot a basket, but I had rhythm.
How it started
Anyway, I made the drill team and a big component of football season was our high-kick routines. (Think Rockettes.) After our first summer practice, I knew I had to improve my fitness in order to nail those routines, so I found a program online called Couch-to-5k. There’s apps for the program now, but in 2002, I had a print-out from a website, my iPod nano, and a timer. I grew to love running, and for the first time ever, ran a 9-minute mile during our pre-football boot camp.
Keeping it up
Through high school, college and post-college, I turned to running. At first, it started altruistically for drill team. During a particularly tough time in life at 19, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety. Running became a therapy for me. It was a way to expend energy I otherwise would spend tearing myself down. It allowed me to be alone with my thoughts, maybe pray, or work out problems I was going through. In college, running accomplished all this and helped me maintain fitness and avoid weight gain. When I was planning my wedding last year, it kept me sane.
I tend to go back-and-forth between running and lifting weights. I love both, but it’s hard for me to do both. (Maybe it’s a mental thing.) Right now, I’m on my last week of Hal Higdon’s 10K training. For years, I wanted to run a 10K, but I could never manage more than 3 miles. Apparently, the mind is a really powerful thing and most of why I couldn’t do it was all in my head. This past Sunday, I ran 5.5 miles – the longest distance I’ve ever ran. I know marathoners would chuckle at that, but for me, that’s a victory.
As for what’s next? I want at least maintain what I’ve achieved from 10K training. I don’t have a race in mind. This seems to be the time when races slow down, since no one wants to run in Texas heat. I’m going to try to add weight training back in and try to keep up with both for a time before going on to my next goal…whatever that’ll be. Maybe 15K? We’ll see.