Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Becoming a runner?

I've read a lot of things saying that if you run, you're a runner. By that measure, I've been a runner since some time last year. I started running because a friend wanted to do a 5k color run. I signed up and figured I better start "practicing" if I wanted to actually make it through the race. I started just on the elliptical and then with a Couch to 5k training app. It was definitely much more walking in the beginning with a gradual increase in the amount of running. But I wasn't doing it because I actually enjoyed it. I just viewed it as something I had to do in order to get through the race.

Then I received results on my annual medical and the cholesterol was very high for someone my age. I knew that I had to keep excercising even after the color run was over in order to improve my health. Also, I enjoyed the color run so I figured another similar event would be fun and keep me motivated. I signed up for another race and kept up with the training. But again, the training runs were just something I had to do and not something I enjoyed.

I don't know when that began to change. But last week I turned to my husband and said that I feel like I'm beginning to have more good runs than bad runs now! It doesn't necessarily feel like something I have to struggle through anymore, at least not all the time. I still have those type of runs but I'm beginning to have more and more when I actually enjoy myself while I'm out there. Part of the key was getting off the gym machines and getting outside. Another key was varying the places I run and going to the various trails and parks in the area instead of just runing around my neighborhood. I never thought I'd wake up on a Saturday morning when it is less then 30 degrees outside and look forward to going running. But I do!

Camp Minnie Mickey
Hiking is probably as close as I've gotten to running in a park before.

I was talking to a friend about running and she indicated that she preferred things like yoga because she didn't want to engage in activities where she felt divorced from her body because of the pain. And I definitely felt like that when I started running. I would try to distract myself from the pain I felt in my body any way I could. But now, there are times when I almost feel more centered in my body when I'm running. I've begun to be able to embrace the physical sensations, hear my breath and my footsteps, revel in the new-found strength to do things I couldn't do 6 months ago, and really connect not only with my body but with my environment. These moments of magic don't happen all the time, but it's amazing when everything falls into place and I can feel that type of "zen."

Yellow motorcycle
Photography is another hobby through which I oddly find some peace and ability to be "in the moment."

So in my own personal definition, I think this is the year that I'm becoming a runner. It is something that I look forward to instead of something I'm forcing myself to do and that makes a huge difference in the fact that it is now something I want to identify with instead of an instrument of torture I use against myself.

Anyone else remember the transition to enjoying running or is it something that was enjoyable from the beginning?