Today I ran for 4 minutes. That actually sounds more impressive than it is, because I ran for 30 seconds, 8 times. So why the heck am I bragging about it?
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you may have picked up on the fact that almost since I started my plant-based midlife rejuvenation project I’ve been pretty keen on exercise. I started off by rowing on an indoor rowing machine, which is an excellent low-impact full-body activity. Then I picked up some weights (literally), discovered yoga, and most recently cycling. I’ve been pretty consistently doing one or more of those things 5 or 6 days a week for more than 2 years. I may very well be in the best shape of my life.
I have good cardio fitness and strong legs, but running has always scared me. Even as a kid, I didn’t like to run. I was never very fast and I always got out of breath. I have the flattest feet of anyone I have ever met. I get shin splints and sore heels from fast walking. When I was heavier, I imagined the terrible strain running would put on my joints. Injury prevention seems to be the main topic in every online article for beginning runners.
But. When I flip through running magazines in a waiting room or see an ad for running shoes, I can see myself on those mountain trails, wind in my hair, hopped up on endorphins and self-satisfaction. Maybe it’s marketing, maybe it’s a midlife awakening? I wonder if I have placed artificial limits on myself by clinging to the story that I am not suited to be a runner.
Besides, there is a particular pleasure in exploring some new endeavour as a rank beginner. Running is an activity about which I know nothing, not even what it feels like to run for any reason other than to catch a bus or flee a bear*. I like being able to try on running without any expectations of myself. I like starting easy and progressing very slowly.
I had heard of people doing “couch to 5k” programs, but when I googled it, I found another program that promises to go even more gradually, called None To Run. So with trepidation and excitement, I have budged the needle just slightly off the None and I intend to see how far towards Run I can actually get. If I follow the standard whole food plant-based transformation narrative I’ll be signing up for an Ironman or ultra marathon by next year, or at least a local fun run, but I truly will be happy if I merely break down a bit of the wall of limitations I’ve placed on myself over the years.
What about you? Are there any stories you’ve told yourself over the years about things you don’t like or can’t do? Are you sure they’re true? Is there anything you’re missing out on as a result?
*To be clear, I fled from a small bear that was not chasing me. I lived in northern British Columbia for a time, and black bears were pretty common. My dog and I encountered a bear while walking in a city park, and I turned tail and ran while the dog and the bear faced off at each other for a bit. I called off the dog, and the bear took to a tree. No animals, human or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this story.