I Want to be a Runner, But . . .

Recently, Jesse mentioned something he was reading that described a character receiving the gift of an invisibility cloak. When you put it on, you became invisible.

My husband laughed, “Oh, Felic, that’s what you need for running!”

Because, you see, I want to be a runner but I’m embarrassed to start. I’m afraid I’ll step out my door that first morning and the real runners in the world will magically wake up from athletic slumbers yelling, “Who is the imposter?! Who dares to attempt the sacred sport without million dollar shoes and secret-club preparations!!”

I want to be a runner before I start running. You know, sort of like wanting to be in shape before I hit the gym.

Or like wanting to be disciplined, wise, or spiritual without practicing it in my life. Everyday. In the little decisions that matter, like smiling when I feel like throwing something or being kind when I want to be impatient. Sort of like that.

It didn’t help when last week I was walking home with the kids from church and Macy (my four year-old mini-me) challenged me to a race on the last block. So I started to run. And then I could hear one of the older kids – although I couldn’t pinpoint the voice in order to assign appropriate blame for the physiological damage inflicted – say casually, “Huh, I’ve never seen Mom run before.”

WHAT?! Never seen me run? Even my children are against this pursuit.

Something helped yesterday, however. Claire had an appointment with her surgeon/specialist in St.Louis; just a check-up, but always a time for thinking about the important things in life. These drives are good for contemplation.

I don’t think I was thinking, “What am I going to do about this running thing?” but the answer came anyway. There along a frontage road was an Amish guy jogging.

Full dress: dark pants, suspenders, button-up shirt, and work boots. Beard. A little heavy around the middle. Jogging.

At first I checked to make sure no one was chasing him. Then to make sure he wasn’t running toward someone who needed help. No, I think he was just jogging. In my imagination he had been ill recently and his doctor had politely suggested that he work on dropping a few pounds and he, all business and practicality, slipped out of his barn the next afternoon to get a little exercise.

And I was there to see it.

What inspired me was the sight of someone becoming a runner, not the sight of a runner running. I thought about how proud his wife must be that he cared to live a little longer. I thought about how prideful I am for not wanting to be seen working on it myself. I smiled for the next several miles. I loved it.

 

So, as you can see, I’ve managed to make this a post about spirituality instead of physicality, but I think you get my point. No one minds watching you struggle through this life trying to become the person you know you should be. Stop apologizing and just keep at it. You’ll get better. It will get easier. You might even learn to enjoy it.

 

(But, seriously, any tips for beginning runners are welcome! Am I the only person plagued by this fear? Also, if you happen to see me actually being brave enough to get started on this jogging business, do me a favor. Pretend I’m wearing an invisibility cloak!)

 

 

33 thoughts on “I Want to be a Runner, But . . .

  1. You had me laughing hard on this one Felicity. An Amish guy jogging totally put me over the top! Thanks for sharing the practicality and the underlying spiritual significance!

    • That’s when my story gets really lame. I have adorable shoes and cute clothes. I even have a running watch and the Couchto5K app on my phone! There really are no excuses.

  2. AMISH GUY JOGGING.

    You know what? I’m always inspired by people just kind of being unafraid to be their weird, wacky selves…letting it all hang out so to speak.

    I always admire them a little.

    Great post.

    But seriously, no tips for being a runner. I joke that I only run after soccer balls and in life-threatening situations…

    Podcasts?

    • Yes, running in life threatening situations! Sort of like my claim that I can swim well enough to save my life if I ever fall off a boat or drive off a bridge, but that it isn’t on my list of recreation sports. (Admittedly, that list is short.)

  3. I loved this piece. Having come through a season of invisibility, I would have delighted in a cloak of many colors to be a stand-out. I’ve become content with the seen and the unseen. It’s truly a game of hide or seek, this journey of becoming is!! I try to keep my jogs infrequent. I’m a tortoise rather than a hare!

  4. Hi Felecity,
    I just completed my first marathon this past Monday, the 2012 Boston Marathon which took place in record heat as temperatures approached 90 degrees (crazy, I know). I ran as a charity runner for an organization called Boston Partners in Education and had the benefit of THE BEST training coach in the world, Rick Muhr. As a beginning runner, I’d definitely recommend you check out his blog, The Marathon Solution: http://bostonmarathoncoach.wordpress.com/
    Even if you aren’t training for a marathon (although I won’t be surprised if you do some day) he has a lot of great information to help you incorporate good running habits early. And he’s super-responsive so you should feel free to email him with specific questions you might have. I know you can reach your goal of becoming a runner. Just take it one step at a time.

    • Thanks, Tinu! I will definitely check out the blog. I don’t imagine myself training for a marathon, but I would like to be able to go long enough to keep my heart healthy!

  5. My boss says it’s all about the breathing. Once you learn to breathe right, you can run. The iPod worked for me (that time a couple years ago when I was a runner for two weeks) because I was in my music zone which felt as good as invisibility. (If I can’t see you, you can’t see me kind of thing). Or you could watch that episode of Friends where Phoebe runs like she’s running away from Satan (“the neighbor’s dog”). It’s pretty inspiring. Also, dude: Country roads. Just do it where no one will see you!

    LOVED this post.

  6. You know you do have a family member that has a degree in exercise science… Ya know that one that wants to be a doctor someday if they will ever let him in. I’m sure he would be more than happy to give you some coaching tips or a routine.
    Serial killers… that’s why I don’t run for sure. ROFL

  7. I’m curious what bad things you think other people are going to think if they see you running? Felicity, you inspire people. If anything other people will be inspired to start running too. If it caught on in your community, maybe a running/biking path that goes through fields and woods could be constructed to be benefited by all.

    • I think its the perfectionism thing, to be honest. I’m afraid that my run won’t be correct form or too fast or too slow or something. And if I can’t do it perfectly, then I don’t want to do it at all! You are right, of course, it’s ridiculous. Thanks for the encouragement.

      • I agree with wanting to run with proper form to avoid injury, there is all kinds of advice out there, barefoot running, chi running, etc. and some of it seems contradictory. I have trouble with my knees and went to a physical therapist who gave me tips and exercises to strengthen my hips and core. I also read Chi Running and found it helpful. I still have sensitive knees, but its usually if I don’t run consistently and keep up with the strengthening exercises. I don’t know if I’ll ever do really long distances. My 2-3 miles 3X a week goal keeps me and my heart in shape for now.

  8. I’m with ya on this one Felic. I don’t know that I’ve ever dreamt of being a runner, but I have always envisioned myself as a walker someday… I should probably make that someday today :) Oh, and if you ever get that invisibility cloak thing figured out, let me know, my husband wants roller blades :)

  9. The Amish jog. I had no idea! I am a reluctant almost-runner. After actively hating the idea for years, I decided I’d give running a fair shot and started couch to 5K. Only to jack my knee up on week 2. I haven’t quite motivated myself to start back up. If I had a treadmill at home, I’d use it but I have all kinds of excuses about going down to the community center and I hate, hate, hate the idea of running outside by myself for similar reasons as you- I don’t want anyone to see/judge me and I’m afraid there will be serial killers and rapists lurking about. At some point, I’ll get over it. Maybe.

    • The injury thing is sort of related to my fears, I think. I’ve heard so much about having the right form if you want to run injury free. Part of the intimidation factor, I think. I’m glad you can relate.

  10. My cousin’s husband is an ultra-marathoner. He runs 55 mile races. Crazy, I know. He recommended a book that Timothy (who’s run 2 marathons) also read. It’s called “Born to Run.” It’s about a tribe of Tarahumara Indians in Mexico who run hundreds of miles without stopping (Timothy’s grandparents actually translated the Bible for this tribe :). I haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve heard, it talks about how our bodies are made to run, made to move. It might inspire you. :)

    I just finished a half marathon in March. It was quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I loved the lesson it taught me. My mom always tells the story of how she started running: she would tell herself to run to the mailbox. Then, she ran to the stop sign. Then, she ran to the neighbors house, etc. until she was running a mile. She’s been running 45 minutes everyday (at least 5 days a week) for the last 30 years, and she loves it!

    Here’s the website if you’re interested.

    http://www.chrismcdougall.com/

    Oh, and our neighbor once told my sister that she could tell I was a beginner runner because I didn’t have as good a form as my mom. I was a little embarrassed and somewhat offended at first. I didn’t want her to ever see my running again, but then I realized that I never saw her running. I’m not sure if she worked out or not, but believing she wasn’t a runner made me feel better. :)

  11. Ugh. I hate when the computer automatically changes : ) into a smiley face icon because it didn’t close my parentheses, and that’s bothering me! Sorry for the rest of you who are also bothered by it.

  12. Here’s a solution for you… wait to start running till you’re my age. You’ll care a lot less what people think. Of course, it’s a tad bit harder to get going!

    I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror at the YMCA the other day and thought, “Oh my, it’s an old, fat lady in uncool workout clothes who obviously waited too long to get here.” My next thought, however, was, “I just dare any of those young-buck, weight-lifter studs (or stud-ettes) to even look at me sideways!”

  13. Ha, I too suffer from running fear. However, it is just because I know I will struggle through the first few steps…and every other step thereafter. Perhaps a slightly different fear from yours. But they say every journey begins with one step. Besides most people will think exactly what you thought about the Amish guy, “Isnt that sweet, look at her trying to stay in shape!” Conquer the fear and lace up the shoes.

  14. As the lone “non runner” Schromm girl I just have to respond to this! Until 6 months ago I wasn’t able to run 2 minutes without huffing, puffing and stopping to walk shortly after. Nor did I care to. I swam laps, biked some, and chalked running off as one of those activities that I’d always loathe and never take to. Then I went to Brazil and had no work out option other than running. I had recently lost a few pounds and didn’t want to gain them back (Brazilian food is not easy to say no to!), so I started walking and throwing a minute run in there. It was a struggle, but now I can run 6+ miles and actually ENJOY it, much to my mom’s joy! Here are my tips:
    1. Music: loud, upbeat, and something you LOVE.
    2. Breathing: when you feel like you are huffing and puffing and want to stop, exhale strong and hard to “change your air” (they say this in Spanish, not sure if this works in English..). Repeat this until your lungs catch up. It gets easier every time.
    3. Running, or the difficulty in running, is 95% mental, 5% physical. There is nothing wrong with stopping to walk, doing lots of downhills to boost your self esteem, or starting slooooow. But remember that you CAN do it. Tell yourself how much you will do before you get out the door and don’t go back until it’s done.
    4. When you want to stop, do a slowwwww jog (so slow it could be walking) and repeat “slow and steady” over and over, and don’t stop. Running fast is overrated. And slow jogs are better than walking!

    And always tell yourself in the moment of suffering: you have beat those who are sitting on the couch watching you!

    When you can start to do more and when you start feeling 100% better (cuz that’s what running does to you), you won’t care anymore what people think!

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