My earliest experiences with running were unremarkable at best, and emotionally and physically painful at worst. I was the kid who finished dead last in the mile race in 5th grade gym class. After being cut from the volleyball team in middle school, I tried cross country and hated every minute of it until I quit.
As far as I was concerned, the sport of “running” could eat my dust.
I stayed active through high school and college, playing other sports and trying a variety of fitness workouts. They were okay, but none of them really got my blood pumping the way I wanted them too. Was working out really just about being fit, looking good, or doing what you are “supposed to do?” Or, was it possible to enjoy the journey along with the destination? If I was going to continue working out for the rest of my life, I was hoping the answer to the latter question was yes.
On the morning of my most dreaded college final in my junior year, I gave running another chance. Actually, it was more of a last ditch effort to overcome the effects of all-nighters and a stomach full of vicious butterflies. If there was anything that could take my mind off of the exam, it was the pain that would come from running.
So at 5AM, I walked to the recreation center, up the stairs to the indoor track, and I ran. For about 9 minutes. My calves and lungs burned, and I felt utterly exhausted. But somehow, I was calmer too. It was the first time I felt like running could offer release instead of tension, and it was that realization that led me to go back out again and again. Granted, it also helped when I learned about and corrected the running form errors that were causing my calves to feel like they had knives sticking in them. But the point is, running got easier and became a lot of fun.
Later that spring, I registered for my first 5K race. I never thought I could finish 3.1 miles running the whole way, and I almost didn’t. It was hot, humid, and I still ended up with a cramp in my side, but when I crossed that finish line, I was hooked. Running had become my “thing.” It was what I wanted to do when I was stressed, tired, bored, happy, or peaceful.
Running was something I could do, just me, for me, anytime, anywhere.
Running isn’t about how fast, far, or where you go, or how cool or crazy you look getting there. For me, running is about crossing the first finish line and looking immediately toward your next one. I call myself a runner because I’m going somewhere. Away from a stressful situation, towards a goal, or just down the street to enjoy some fresh air. This is one journey that I hope lasts a long time.
Are you ready to lace up your shoes and run? This fall, Midtown is offering an 8-week “Run Your First 5K” program to help beginning runners train for the Frank Lloyd Wright Races 5K/10K in Oak Park on October 23, 2011.
Kristen Schumacher est la directrice médias sociaux de Midtown Oak Park et une entraîneuse personnelle. Lorsqu’elle ne s’entraîne pas pour sa prochaine course de fond, elle aime cuisiner, chanter et passer du temps avec sa famille et ses amis.