So I’ve come to the end of my running odyssey, and I find it ironic that at the end of this program, I find myself running 10K alone—on my treadmill—just the way I started.
Scheduling problems, bad weather and illness all interfered with a final 10K run for the group. As the nights grew colder and darker, it seemed that few wanted to venture out into the vast nothingness of the suburbs. (Perhaps running clubs should be reserved for the spring…but that’s another discussion.)
Completing this 10K has not created any great desire to run longer distances. I’m pretty happy chugging along at 5K three or four times a week, just for weight control and sanity. But I have learned the tools to run faster, and add a little more distance when I’d like to.
Through this process I’ve learned a few things about myself, would you like to hear what they are?
1. There’s strength in numbers. Call it peer pressure, call it accountability, call it an excuse for socializing—however you view it, I felt more responsibility to persevere and complete my goal because I made a public commitment.
2. Usually, I don’t give myself enough credit. I started off being able to run 5K very slowly. Did I appreciate that I could even do that? Not really.
Then I did 6K. Meh, well, big deal.
Then 7K. I huffed and puffed through it. It was hard.
Then 8K. It was really hard. Like, stop-in-the-middle-of-the-road-and-collapse hard.
Then one historic night, I managed 9K, with three other runners who were much faster, younger, and thinner than I. And I was shocked.
And now, I’ve met my goal, all by myself…10K, in 1 hour 30 minutes. Not great time (and I wasn’t whistling a merry tune by the end, either) but I did it…I really did it.
I was sore and tired and felt a bit weak, but wow! I’m so grateful for my health and for a body that moves the way it should. What an amazing machine houses our spirits.
3. I can accomplish more than I imagine, if I only try. You’re never as fat, wrinkly, dumb, poor, old or useless as you think. Really, I’m serious. We girls, we’re pretty hard on ourselves, don’t you think? How many activities have I automatically rejected in my mind over the years just because I figured it was impossible for me? Am I still dwelling on some irrelevant failure from 1986? The point is not whether I can do it, the point is whether I really want to do it.
4. I need other people more than I think. In the beginning, it was mortifying to be the slow one, the one who was constantly dragging the pace, but I quickly realized that the others in the group simply wanted to share their love of running with me and that seeing me improve was an encouragement to them, as well. Allowing other people to see our imperfections and receiving the gifts they wish to pour into us is not a sign of weakness, it’s the best of humanity. We are not dependent, we are inter-dependent.
And (arguably) the most important point:
5. Don’t expect to lose any weight if you’re still sucking back chocolate cake. And pudding. And oily grilled cheese sandwiches. And cookies. And fish ‘n chips…shall I go on? Well, you get the idea.