“We’re going to run then sing,” she said. I looked quizzically at my then vocal coach and blurted out “don’t you only run when being chased”. A line that resonated with me from one of my favourite cult films ‘The Faculty’. That was almost four years ago and little did I know that was going to be the start of a long affair with running and road races.
If anyone had told me those many years ago I would be running farther than the kitchen I would have said “you’re crazy, I can’t run”. I wasn’t really interested outside of the occasional sprint against my siblings. My older sister would often best me, or my younger brother, who’d played football, would leave me eating dust.
I was no athlete. Growing up I was friendlier with the clinic waiting area than any sporting arena. Yet at 30-something years old I was incensed by the realization that I couldn’t best this rosy woman who’d convinced me to chase her around a cluster of houses, as part of some extreme vocal exercise.
I gained some important insight that afternoon: one, I could belt out a note or two after that madness, and two, I NEVER wanted to feel as woefully unfit as I did that day, rambling behind my teacher like some crippled cat.
I resolved to go home and practice. I first made a single loop around some neighbourhood houses and thought, “This is where I’m going to die”. My breathing wasn’t the best. I’d been a rhinitis sufferer for years and hadn’t quite figured out how to breathe any farther than into my chest, rather than my diaphragm. Yet the next morning I got up and tried this madness again and it was then I felt my airways open. Even with the then burning in my legs and chest, the feeling of being able to breathe normally was amazing. I think that’s when I decided I was going to keep on running.
Every day I run is different, and my motivation to keep going continues to evolve as I watch myself grow and change in ways I never dreamed possible. It’s something I’ve grown to love.
When I mention running most people turn green and say, “I can’t run” or “I hate running”. I’ve discovered for most of us the initial discomfort is just completely unappetizing. We think we need to be an athlete, or some sort of super fit person to run. Couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I’m not advocating running for everyone, but it’s not off limits to anyone. You don’t need to be the fastest; all you need to do is start. It’s cheaper than a gym membership and you may be happily surprised at how much your outlook on life and your body will change.