I ran track in high school. I wasn’t fast or even kinda fast, but I liked running because my friends were on the team and I could hang out and get in shape at the same time. Anyone on the track team will tell you that I was definitely more social than speedy. I’m positive I was an endless frustration to my patient coach (sorry, Coach Kiple!). And because I wasn’t ever going to be the next Usain Bolt, I dropped it in college to move on to more important things. Like cheese fries.
After I had the boys, I had a problem. I needed to lose the baby weight (ahem, 40 lbs), and I needed to be strong to keep up with them. I had gotten way soft over the years and I needed something meaningful to fix it.
I couldn’t go to the gym, and had no desire to work out in my basement. But I could run. Running was the gift I had forgotten about. I wasn’t convinced that I could still do it, so I made a promise to only myself. I didn’t tell my husband or Facebook or my friends that I was going to start running. I only told me, so that way if I didn’t go through with it, I was just letting myself down.
Turns out that was a pretty powerful strategy, because I really didn’t want to let myself down. And here’s what I learned:
- Don’t look at your feet or the road when you run. Look up, and look ahead. If you’re looking down, your view is asphalt, asphalt, rock, dead bug, cigarette butt. If you look up and ahead, you can see gardens and trees and perhaps this deer, who I almost ran smack into because I was looking at my feet.
- Don’t pay attention to the inches you stride with each step. Worry about aggregate distance later. Way later. The steps will add up into something wonderful if you let them.
- Never underestimate the power of a good sweat.
- When other runners give you the “runner’s wave” as you trot by, you will feel like Usain Bolt, even if you are NOT Usain Bolt.
So thank you, Coach Kiple, for giving a lazy girl a skill she could dust off 20 years later and put to excellent use. My form is still awesome. My speed is still not. But I’m out there, pounding the pavement and getting faster every day. Because Coach was patient with me, I’m patient with myself – and that’s made all the difference.