I overheard Greg talking with a friend the other night, and what he said really stuck with me:
“No one likes running when they just start out.”
What? Did I miss that memo? Because here I am, thinking I’m supposed to be enjoying this, and I still think it sort of sucks. My knees hurt, my toenails are in survival mode, and I accidentally blew snot on myself yesterday. If running was a blind date, I would have high-tailed myself out of there at the first sign of snot. And now you’re telling me that it’s ok to hate this? At least, for now?
That’s not to say I’ve hated all of it. I am running further than I ever thought I could, my endurance is up, and I’ve recently acquired several new running outfits. I have to (grudgingly) support any hobby that allows me to buy cute outfits. Still, the love affair I envisioned, with the wind blowing through my hair and the arms raised in victory, has not come to be. Not yet, anyway.
Part of the reason I’m yet to fall in love with running is the pressure that comes with it. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to be good at this. If I’m going to run, I need to go far and get there quickly. I have actually lost sleep over my upcoming 5K—what if I’m awful? or I get a cramp? or if someone’s grandmother passes me?
I live with someone who decided to run a marathon on a whim, trained not-so-seriously for a few months, and then blew his goal time out of the water by 40 minutes. (3:19? Are you serious?) Greg is tall and lean, a natural athlete, with long legs and an even longer stride. He is the human equivalent of a gazelle.
I, on the other hand, am more like a wiener dog. My short little legs have to pump twice as hard, and I don’t have the natural rhythm of a runner. This doesn’t make for leisurely jogs; on the contrary, I feel like a frenetic jumble of limbs, getting whipped in the face with my ponytail. I feel like I have big shoes to fill, and each step has been a reminder that I’m not quite there.
So when I heard Greg confess that he, my very own Marathon Man, used to hate it too, I felt a little bit of hope. Just because I’m not as good as I want to be doesn’t mean I can’t get there. It’s far more important to remember that I set a goal for myself and I am achieving it. I’m allowed to hate every second, for the time being, because I know the feeling of finishing will make it worthwhile. I am doing something I didn’t think could be done, and that’s pretty great.
For the time being, it’s ok that my motivation to run is so I can be finished sooner. It’s fine that I chant profanities in my head instead of motivational phrases. I’ll even accept it if Grandma finishes before I do. No one is going to be at the finish line thinking I should have run faster. Not even me.