If there’s an opportunity for me to talk about running with someone, there’s a good chance we’re going to be stuck on that topic for a while. In fact, I’ve had a ton of conversations over the last 3 years with people of all walks of life since I started running. Most of these convos are usually laced with questions of how I got started, how I find the time, or how I stay committed. The one common statement that always stands out for me is, “I don’t know how you do it. I can barely make it down my own block.” Side note: you actually CAN, but we’ll get to that later.
When I hear this, I don’t know whether to take it as a compliment or a back handed remark, but the main thing it digs up for me is the assumption that I just woke up one day and became a distance runner. Ummmm let’s just get one thing straight right here. I used to HATE running. I repeat, I used to HATE running.
I was never naturally drawn to running. I was more of a pool rat (swimming is my jam yo!), and I remember dreading the running unit of each childhood phys ed class because well, I was told my body wasn’t built for speed. One of my gym teachers even pointed out that my one leg kicked out to the side when I ran and how that was also impeding my ability to run properly (like wtfrig does that even mean?!). Feeling like I wasn’t naturally good at it right from the get go only made me hate it more. Fast forward to today and hating running couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Like a lot of relationships that start off a bit rocky, it was simply a lack of understanding. I thought I had to be fast when I started. I thought I had to be great before I even began. If there’s anything that running has taught me, it’s that it doesn’t judge.
In a world where perception rules and where we’re inundated with media messaging, the physical act of running is a way to connect with yourself. A way to tap into your mind, your body, your heart, and your soul.
Running doesn’t care if you’re fast. It doesn’t care if you run short or if you run far. Running doesn’t care what you look like, if you have the coolest shoes (although it’s safe to say I love cool shoes), or if you’re sporting all the latest gear. All running cares about is that you show up. That you give your all in that moment, whatever that may be, and that’s EXACTLY what I love so much about it.
As someone who has been made fun of for the way she looks and who’s been told she’s too big or too fat, running has also been an act of rebellion for me. It’s my method of saying EFF it to every judgment cast my way and it’s also my way of defying every possible stereotype that lies ahead in my future. It’s about proving to myself that I can accomplish incredible things despite the odds, and it’s about breaking down the barriers that athleticism only comes in one shape or size.
What I am trying to say is that when I hear the words, “I can’t run” fly out of people’s mouths, I think they come from a similar place like back to when I first started. They think they have to be fast and naturally good right at the start. Ultimately, I want people to know that you don’t need to be great at the beginning. Sure, you’ll feel a bit uncomfortable, and a bit awkward, but since running doesn’t judge you, all you have to do is be yourself and try your best, because I promise you, if you commit to it, you’ll find your greatness along the way.