On becoming a runner. At 39.
First you must run. It may only be 25 or 30 paces. Then you walk. Catch your breath. Run again.
If you are carrying more weight than your body is used to, you can think of it as a weighted vest that you will be shedding over the months. Weighted vests make you stronger.
You will hear that everyone felt like you when they started, huffing and puffing and mostly walking. You may not believe them. Especially when they tell you now they can run 5 miles rather effortlessly. Yes, that’s when you won’t believe them.
There is a good chance you’ll do a ton of things wrong. Or not. But if you do, it is the way we learn. Watch a little babe learn to walk. They figure it out by trying, failing, going back.
The first time feeling the runner’s high will change your life. This is not an exaggeration.
You will receive a shit ton of advice. Listen to it but don’t take carry it all. Take what you need, excuse the rest. This is your journey.
Find shoes that feel like joy.
Get an app on your phone to track your distance and pace. Let it talk to you each mile and encourage you. (You may still not believe you’ll run a mile or more, but you will. No need to believe me yet.)
Track your progress and workouts with that app so you can find the trends that work for you. A running plan is a guide, find yourself inside of it.
Rest days. Once you’ve felt the high you won’t want them but they change the game.
Things will hurt. This is how they get stronger. Let your body heal and be challenged in safety and love.
Don’t run on the sidewalk, stay in the streets or on the paths. Your knees will thank you.
Buy a few running clothes that make you feel gorgeous. Everything you do can be done gorgeously. Even, especially, sweating.
Running and yoga clothes come with cute little zippered pockets now to hold keys and phones. Those will become your favorite.
Don’t just run. Have a yoga day. Do planks after your runs. Devote one day to core. Lift. Lots of pigeon pose. Rest.
Notice the days when you are running away from yourself. They will hurt. You will feel pain. These are the days that you are pushing.
Notice the days when you find home, which is you, inside of your run. They will feel like joy. These are the days that you are in your body. And this is gratitude.
Drink water. After your run add a little sea salt and lemon and hydrate.
To become a runner you must run. There is no other way.
Since starting to run 6 weeks ago I have become a runner. After 14 days of running extremely little, mostly walking, I was left useless with pain in both knees. I could barely walk down stairs. I waited for my knees to heal and spent the following 3 weeks doing kettle bell swings so I wouldn’t lose my momentum.
I felt like a failure. I kept my patience and let myself heal. Then I began to run again. I followed those bits of advice that I had collected and I have no knee pain.
My longest run is almost 3 miles at about a 12 minute pace.
6 weeks ago I would have laughed if you told me after a few weeks of running I would be able to run 3 miles. I would have said, “But I am not a runner.”
I was just asked to join a half marathon for my 40th year. I just might.
My whole life I longed to be a runner. I watched my father run as though it was his religion. I always felt so jealous, not of his time running, but of the way it made him feel, like it was moving prayer aligning his brain and body. I seem to share a similar brain and yes, it is moving prayer.
I have watched my Instagram feed fill up with women starting to or returning to becoming runners. It overwhelms my heart. To feel my movement become sacred inside of another’s movement feels so good.
When my knees had to stop I had women telling me that they were inspired to run again and that they would run for me while I couldn’t. I believed them. I felt it. I was there too.
I run because it brings me back to me, back into my body.
I am a runner. At 39.
“The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be”
I Dare You to Move, Switchfoot
(Please note this is simply a story about my last few weeks learning to run. It is in no way a running plan or fitness advice. Again, this is my story.)