Run Day: It’s Okay To Stink
I must make a confession, so here goes:
I am a horrible runner.
This isn’t to say I have a terrible, flailing, inefficient stride or anything. I mean, I’m sure there’s room for improvement, but my basic run mechanics are okay.
It’s just that, well .. I’m slow and I’m somewhat out of shape (amazing how one can routinely ride pretty serious distances and still be unable to put in a decent time on a 5k!).
As a kid I was a good runner (though patently awful at pacing myself) until about fifth grade, when my asthma suddenly decided that my running days were pretty much over. Before I could get it under control and get back into running, I got into bikes, then walking, then bikes again — and then, for a while, into running again, when I had a big dog and lived near a reservoir with a nice trail around it.
Then I moved back to the city, and my big doggie stayed in the country, and I had no doggie to run with me, and I didn’t have any nice trails nearby, and kvetch, moan, whine. You know the drill. And then I got back into bikes again and running, well, just kind of slipped off the radar. In 2013, I went on a grand total of one — yes, one — run. One. Oh, wait, maybe two. I think Michelle and I went running once, but that might actually have been in 2012.
It wasn’t that I didn’t intend to take it up again. Just that … you know. I’m, like, a cyclist. And running is dangerous if you’re a cyclist. It’s, like, a gateway sport that can lead to, you know … swimming. And Triathlons. But most importantly, running can mean carving time out of your cycling schedule, and that’s just … you know. Wrong.
I’m joking, of course.
The past couple of years, I’ve felt the running bug acting up again. Thing is (and I realize that admitting this might lead to the loss of my Cyclist Card or whatever) I actually like running. I joke that I could never be a triathlete because I like running, riding bikes, and swimming, and most triathletes seem to passionately hate at least one of the three. I have always found running a very satisfying activity: meditative in its own right, and well worth doing. I just haven’t done a very good job making it happen.
This year, I decided to think about why, and I realized that part of the problem is simple: I stink at running. I stink at running even more than I stink at racing bikes.
Then something changed. Some little part of my attitude, somewhere, decided that it’s okay if I stink at running. I mean, it’s not like I have anything to prove, right? And running is one of those sports where everyone is ecstatic for everyone who finishes a race, which I think is awesome (there is less of that in bike racing). And also the only way to get better at it is to, you know, go out and do it.
Moreover, at least a few of us refer to running as “the sport of truth.” There’s no coasting downhill; there’s no picking an easier gear. There’s just you and your legs and feet and whatever’s under and in front of them. So, basically, running gives you a really keen sense of where you are fitness-wise. If you’re struggling on a climb, you can neither spin the granny gear nor mash the big gears ’til your eyes bleed in hope of making it to the top faster. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, so to speak.
So I have decided to go ahead and stink at running. My schedule this semester allows me some non-commuting days (two per schoolweek for the first six weeks, then three thereafter), and I think that rather than riding on all of those days, I’m going to start out by running on two of them. The goal will be to build up to running three days per week; maybe more if the bike schedule and my overall health will allow it.
I don’t mind being a horrible runner. It’s funny how that works. I know I’ll get better at it, but if I’m never awesome at running, that’s fine. I can go on being a terrible runner, maybe even get myself a t-shirt printed up with some dinosaur-esque Linnean sounding name that means “Terrible Runner” on it.
Today is a run day. Wish me luck.