The Idea of Running

It’s a warm, clear afternoon. Having nothing to do, I pull on some tennis shoes and head outside for a run. It is wonderful, freeing, and blissful–for the first fifteen steps. Then I become frustrated and head back inside.

I want to like running, I really do. The idea of running is wonderful. I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s embarrassing. It’s tiring. In the comfort and safety of my own mind, I go for runs all the time. When I finally make the decision to do it for real, I…well, I never make the decision to begin with. I don’t know where to start. I’m intimidated by people who actually know how to do it right. You know, the people who run a 5K every morning, who think it’s fun and enjoyable. I want to be that person, it’s just that I’m probably the worst runner you will ever meet…and I mean ever.

The first memories I really have of running date back to fourth grade or so. It was gym class, and we were forced to run the mile. That class, I realized how much I hated it. Running, I mean. I finished in fifteen minutes. Later in the year, I finished thirteen-and-a-half minutes. Still terrible, right? 
Fifth grade was worse. Not in the time amount necessarily, but in the shame associated with running. “You all should be able to run a mile in nine to twelve minutes,” barked the gym teacher, glancing over at me. I really thought I could do it, I really did. I went out on that field with an optimistic outlook. Once we began to run, however, I felt differently. It hurt. I was slow and awkward compared to my peers. Every time I slowed to a walk, the gym teacher would scream at me from across the field. Eventually, only three or so kids were still completing the mile–I was one of them. Fed up, the teacher asked the “faster runners” to chase us so we’d be forced to go faster. I was already embarrassed, and then had to endure being chased by people who taunted me and put me down. 

Yes, chased. I still chose, however, to join a running program that year. For whatever reason, I don’t know. I was the slowest one in the group. Nobody clapped for me at the end of the practice 5K–except the adults, of course. When I ran the real 5K, I finished in just over 57 minutes. 

The last time I checked (which was probably a year ago), I ran a mile in 12:40. I still haven’t reached the gym teacher’s expectations. Every sport I’ve tried has been humiliating and an awful experience. I’m just no good at them. My mind can outrun my body any day. 

I will read articles on running for hours. I will listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, spend an hour trying to look like I know what I’m doing, and buy awesome new shoes–but I’ll never run. I’ll never do the work. Like I said, I want to like it. It’s a wonderful idea, but it’s never really gotten further than my imagination. 

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