I have always, always, always been a slow runner.
When I was in elementary school, I was always picked last for every time. This was probably one part slow runner, 1 part socially awkward and 2 parts kids are so mean, but I can still vividly remember lining up with my classmates and knowing that I’d always be the last one standing (on a side note, do teachers still do that? Line kids up so the geeky/slow/fat kids can get it confirmed again and again that they are the lowest of the low on the social totem pole? Not that I am bitter about that still. Nope.).
When I was in high school and was on swim team, I was the slowest runner when we did dry land training. I could race the 500 free and 100 butterfly, but ask me to run a mile and I was dying. Whenever we’d run, I’d get shin splints and side stitches and would feel so crappy about myself as I watched the rest of the team race away from me.
When I was 22 years old, I started trying to run with my best friend’s husband J. J was much, much faster than me but he’d run with me several nights a week. We’d run and talk about God and big topics. I was slow and I got shin splints and planter fasciitis but I ran. I can clearly remember the first time I ran a mile straight and then two miles and then, miracles do happen, five miles. I was amazed. For almost a year, I ran on a regular basis.
I eventually ran a 10K, finishing in the bottom 10 for all the runners. I was slow, but I did it.
I was, psychologically speaking, a mess in my early 20’s. Running was probably one of the few healthy things I was doing for myself. So, of course, I stopped it after the 10K. It wasn’t a conscious decision but J became a father, I was dealing with some major life stuff and we just stopped running together. I then moved to a foreign country and pretty much stopped exercising with any regularity for the next, oh, 6 or 7 years.
Now I’ve been training pretty regularly since July. I’d guess this is the most regular I’ve been in a long time, for sure since I met my husband. And this is a good thing.
I was running on Sunday and I was think about why I come back to running and thinking about doing running races when I am not (and likely never will be) a fast runner. Why not swim more, the sport I’m actually good at? I think I’ve finally decided that on some level I like how hard running is for me. I think I hold running up as the pinnacle of physical fitness and I want to get there.
It is strange though, as I am so competitive, to be pursuing this sport where I will never win. Maybe that is good for me. Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment. Maybe I just want to get fast enough to not get picked last anymore.