(A terrible candid of me running a half marathon and choosing a good song.)
When I was 14 years old, I remember sitting in the passenger’s seat of my mother’s Chevrolet, in early March driving down a gray, cold, and wet street in Massachusetts seeing someone in full body spandex, with gloves and earmuffs on running on the side of the dirty snow-filled street, telling her I would never, ever be a runner. “I could walk 20 miles a day mom, but I’ll never enjoy running for even a minute,” I told her. “It hurts your legs, your breathe tastes like blood, and you get so sweaty. How could anyone EVER enjoy that?” My mother, being the gentle soul she is, just nodded along. She never cared if I ran or walked anywhere, she wasn’t going to push me into anything. However, I had just signed up to join the rowing team for the spring season which was starting that week, since cheerleading was only a fall and winter sport, and on the first day I was going to have to run three whole miles.
I remember that day so specifically. I thought it would be a rumor that we had to run three miles, surely just to scare people from signing up. Well nope, it wasn’t. There was about 25 of us freshman girls, and our coach Joelle explained to us that she had mapped out a mile loop with her car, and the first thing we had to do to warm up was run that loop three times. We all started in the parking lot, and took off. There was 25 of us, and about 5 of us were new that season and hadn’t trained. The other new girls had played sports like soccer and field hockey in the fall, and were used to running warm ups. I, as a former cheerleader, was used to stretching. I made it down one of the four streets making up the loop before I had to start walking. Me and one other girl, who was also slow, had just finished our second lap when Joelle exclaimed “oh good you guys are done come join us,” to which I responded “no that was just the second lap” and she instructed me to go again, and the other girl, a petite blonde, said it was her last one and made me walk/lightly jog the last lap alone.
That day I didn’t feel embarrassed, or discouraged. I wasn’t a runner, of course I wasn’t good at running, who cares? I went through the rest of the season with a walk/jog combo of the three mile warm up. When the season wrapped Memorial Day weekend, I told my sister I was going to make myself love running before the next season. “How are you going to do that?” she asked. “I don’t know yet,” I responded.
So that night I thought about how I would make myself into a runner. “I am a runner now!” I told myself. What would a runner do? They would run everyday. As soon as summer started, I told my sister for a month straight I was going to run everyday for at least 1.5 miles. That was about half of the three mile warm up, but something I believed I could do everyday. For the first day my sister came with me. Now, let me tell you about my sister. At the time, she was on varsity soccer and lacrosse, and in their tryouts would place in the top three fastest runners. The girl had strong, fast legs that could take her anywhere she needed to be as fast as lightning, no matter if she had trained all season or taken three months off. She was a natural athlete, and I had never taken an interest. So, we go out to run that first day, and we are on this long, suburban road with twists and three small hills on it. I am running so slowly down it, that my sister decides shes going to run to the street sign at the end and back to me a couple of times until I reach it. She was literally running circles around me, I was that terrible at running! But, I did it. I ran that day.
(Me running today)
Not only did I run that first day, but I ran everyday for a month like I wanted to. Then, I ran 5 days a week every week for the rest of my life, which is 8 years later now. In 2013, I even ran a half marathon in just over two hours. Today, I call myself a runner. It is one of the first words I use to describe myself or what I do to new people. It it something my friends will tell me I am, “oh but you’re a runner,” they often say. Yes, I am. How did I do it? I wasn’t motivated to loose weight or make some team or be less embarrassed. No. One day, I changed how I defined myself, and how I acted to match that new definition. I wanted to be a runner, so I told myself I was one and acted like one. Now, I am one. I love running so much today that I hate days when I can’t run. It is where I do my best thinking, can solve any problem, and completely de-stress. Running is one of the most important things in my life, and if I had never changed the inner vision I had of myself and done the action to match it, I have no doubt my life wouldn’t be the same. I thought for 14 years running was something I was never going to be able to do or like, and I changed all of that in one day by just deciding I wanted to. You have control of your inner voice, and you can change who you are to whoever you want to be by deciding and moving confidently in that direction.