My good friend and inspiration Kim wrote a great piece yesterday about confidence and how it can screw with our heads. I thought about it a lot, because I’d had the same experience just the Monday prior.
In spring of 2012, I did something that scared the bejeezus out of me and registered for a group running class. Although I had “casually” run since 2009, running with other people was something I was terrified of. I was worried I’d be judged, or worse, I’d bring other people’s runs down. I am a slow runner. I don’t run marathons or ultras or even a 5K at a good pace. I figured I wasn’t cut out for running with other people.
Against my better judgement, I started the class. Our first run was – NOT EVEN KIDDING – in sleet. If that doesn’t prepare you for running with other people, nothing else will.
As you may recall, I ended up LOVING that class. I loved the people, I made great friends, and I felt like a runner. I felt like a runner because I ran. Didn’t matter how fast, or how long, or with how many people. If I laced up my shoes and got out the door, I was A Runner.
And then I got knocked up.
I stopped running because 1) I was pregnant and tired and 2) the month before said knocking up, I had come down with a double-ear infection and bronchitis, so I hadn’t run much then either. And through my pregnancy, I gained 60+ lbs.
I know there are the precious few whose bodies snap back to perfect condition within a few weeks of giving birth, but I am not among them. My body clings to pregnancy fat like .. well, like I cling to warm Krispie Kreme donuts. Realizing that I’m not even the spry 27 year old that I was last time, I decided to start from Square One. I registered for another running class.
To be fair, this class had a safety net. The coaches are my old running buddies, women that are incredibly strong and I admire them beyond words. Many of the mentors are my running buddies. I even knew a couple of my friends were signing up for the class.
But I was SO TERRIFIED.
I knew that I would not show up as The Runner from 2012. I knew that I carried LOTS of extra weight, and in the torture that is biology, of course it’s not distributed evenly across my body. I basically resemble a Weeble.
And if I was slow before? Sheesh.
But what Kim’s post reminded me of was a time when I saw a lady running down by a busy thoroughfare. Bryan and I were carting the kids somewhere and I was staring at her. He told me to stop staring. She was older than me, and my size or heavier. And she was struggling.
What Bryan didn’t realize was that I wasn’t staring out of disgust or annoyance or anything negative. I was so FREAKING PROUD of her. I wanted to high five her SO BADLY. It was every bit of restraint within my system not to roll down my window and shout some encouragement her way. She did not look like an ultra-marathon runner, but my God, she was out there. Running.
So I went last Monday. I was late getting there, so I literally had to catch up with the group. And running? OH MY GOD. My feet are like lead. My legs are heavy and weak. Trying to breathe was a losing battle. But I ran. Dude, I was A Runner. Again.
I’ve taken to spending 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day in our gym at work, on the treadmill. I don’t run – I am trying to avoid breaking a sweat – but I walk a little more than half a mile on a steep incline. I’m going to get there again.
Running is my therapy, and MY GOD, I am so glad to get back on that couch.