Sunday, November 2, 2008

Seems like everyone's talking...

I've seen a lot of discussion about goals recently--maybe because we're nearing the end of the year and it's just the time that we evaluate and look back on what we've accomplished (or failed to) during the year. Nonetheless, it got me thinking about where I am with my current goals and what my future goals might be. When I started this blog, I did so more out of necessity for myself--as I felt that I needed a way to keep my focus on running and to give myself a play-by-play of my training and my experience. But I have a couple of visitors now (which I'm so happy about!) and I thought it might be nice for me to tell you all what I'm really doing here. You guys read about my training runs and races, about my shoes and what I love to eat and whatever else I feel like spewing out but maybe you want to know WHY I'm doing this and what I want out of it. We all have our own love affair with Running (come to think of it, Running sure does get around...) but we're in the relationship for different reasons and with different goals in mind, providing each of us a unique (but related) experience. I know you guys know that I want to do well for my first Half Marathon in the Spring but there's more to my running "career" than that!

Childhood--the period of my life when I met Running. Though I thought Running was cool because it got you to places more quickly (like the ice cream truck or to avoid the dreaded "tap" during a game of freeze tag), I mostly cared very little about it, only using it when I needed it and on my own terms.

Ages 13-16--the only running related goals I had during this time probably involved avoiding it as much as possible. I didn't participate in sports, though I DID enjoy playing basketball. However, when I look back, this was probably my least athletically active period. The Mall and the movies were more important to me, I think.

Age 17--this is when things changed. As I grew up, I started to realize that I wanted to do something for myself--something I could possibly be good at. I guess Running was the "boy next door" for me. Running was always there, but I didn't really pay it any attention unless I needed to. By age 17, though, I started to look at it a little differently. Was Running worth a second look? I thought so.

I remember the first day I went out and ran--*cough*--attempted to run. I geared up (athletic shorts and t-shirt and whatever athletic shoes I had on hand) and stepped out of the door. I did a few stretches and walked out to the sidewalk (helluva warm up there, huh?) and started to run. Because that's all there is to it, right? I ran down the street...YES! I was doing it! I was running! I made it all of about 5 houses and I was exhausted and huffing and puffing. Talk about feeling total, complete defeat and failure. I remember the embarassment I felt, too--as if everyone were in their homes that day, sitting beside their front windows waiting for a chance to see me run by their house, just to see if I would make it. The house you stop (read: fall over, clutching your chest as you gasp for air and wondering if your legs will ever stop burning) in front of is inevitably the house where there's a family reunion or birthday party going on, and the weather is so nice that the entire party happens to be OUTSIDE and of course they are watching YOU during your most disappointing moment.

Actually, my experience wasn't so dramatic. But it was no less disappointing. Somehow, though, I kept trying. I would go out each day and try to run a little farther. That summer, I went from running a distance of 5 houses to running around the block to running to the next neighborhood. By the end of the summer, I was frequently running 1-2 miles away from home and then returning. I felt so accomplished, as I should have.

College years--For many years, I said that my peak running fitness was during my college years. I started running more seriously around age 19 and because I had a few friends from my school's track team, I was doing more intense workouts with them and actually contemplated walking on the team, myself. I frequently ran 4 miles every other day, and to me, that was MAJOR. I was in good shape, (thanks in part to my daily trips to the gym that was free and totally awesome) and I really felt good about myself and my conditioning. Then I got mono--I was still running 4 miles with mono for 2-3 weeks. I had no idea why I was feeling so horrible all of the time but my logic was "if I am getting a cold, and I stop running, my body will totally give in to the cold." Stupid, maybe. But after I found out what was wrong with me, and after I was unable to get out of bed easily in the morning...and found myself actually having to sit down in a PUBLIC shower because I felt SO bad...I stopped running for a period. My very early 20's came and I kept running but I was never able to run more than a mile or two at a time, even though I got lots of inspiration from a very attractive and fit neighbor of mine who would go out and run every day. :)

It seemed like no matter what I did, I just couldn't progress. I learned about different exercises and training methods and actually took to hill running and plyometrics and I saw small improvements there but nothing major and I still couldn't run 4 miles.

Mid-20's--This was by far the most rocky period of my relationship with Running. Off and on, love and hate. Sometimes I wanted to, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. Running wasn't having the same effect on me as it did when I was 19. I wasn't proud of myself when I was with Running. Back then, I thought it was Running's fault. I know now that it was my fault. I wasn't giving it the love it needed to give love back to me!

Let's fast

2007 (age 27)--I FINALLY decided to give myself to Running, once and for all. I didn't want to be one of those people who get to the beginning of the new year and START exercising. I never have liked that. I want to prove to myself that it's an actual lifestyle change and so during the fall of last year, I started getting serious again. I started my own personal walk/run program. I kept at it. I'd come home on lunch and walk...and walk...and walk...until I felt strong enough to start running. And I'd run...and run...and run...until I could run farther and farther. One mile was KILLER. Two miles I hit a plateau. Then I just kept pushing. I didn't want to give up because I remembered how awesome it felt to run and to love it and to feel good doing it.

2008--My first race was in March and it was a 5K. All it took was that one race and I knew that I didn't want to give up on Running, and I didn't want to give up on myself either!

I've come SO far personally. And the discipline that I've had this year has shown me just what I can do when I set my mind to it. I realize that there are so many people out there that are so much faster and can run so much farther than me but I'm proud of them too! I can be proud of my own accomplishments because I can see them so clearly and with each improvement, it gives me the motivation to push even harder and to not give up as I have so many earlier times.

Next up: The present.


Some guy named John said...

What a great post! Your relationship with running reminds me a little of my own; for years, she was sort of the high school/college sweetheart who looked me up every few years. Now, I've settled into a comfortable, companionable relationship with running.

Gosh, I'm glad my wife is the understanding type.

"I'll be happy if running and I can grow old together" - Haruki Murakami in What I Talk about When I Talk about Running.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I am having my rocky time with Running right now. Not too good but one thing I know for sure: I'll keep on and not quit no matter how hard it is.

You realize what hell of a "bitch" Running is? Keeping so many people crazy for "her" at once, teasing all at point, angering us, still never letting us go for good?