Last weekend, I made a quick trip home to visit my grandpa, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery. On Sunday morning, my dad joined me for half of my 5-mile run, giving me the perfect opportunity to share one of the biggest reasons I picked up running in the first place.
That would be this man, right here.
For as long as I can remember, I was the girl who hated to run. I hated feeling winded and slow. I took it to heart when a particularly cute, graceful, wispy little girl told me in gym class, “You run funny.”
Oh, yeah? At least my grammar is better than yours.
It’s not that I wasn’t athletic. I was on the track and field team for five years during school—I threw shot put and discus.
Yes, an 8-pound ball of steel.
And sure, even we throwers ran. We ran laps on the stadium bleachers every day, and we even sprinted every now and then. But you didn’t need to be fast or graceful for that. You needed to be strong, and you needed to be determined—and I was.
But through high school and then college, I continued to shy away from distance running. I’d make all sorts of excuses to myself:
I’m just not a runner. I have bad form. And—God forbid—people will think I look funny.
It wasn’t until graduate school that I developed an interest in fitness and started exercising regularly. For years, my idea of a good time was rocking out to Maroon 5 on the elliptical.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
We all need our guilty pleasures.
Anyway, before long, I started to hear about this friend or that friend picking up running and loving it. I really wanted to become a runner, and so from time to time, I’d try.
Especially if there wasn’t an elliptical within a 10-mile radius.
But as many beginners do, I’d try to run too far or too fast. Then, I’d get frustrated, tell myself I was slow, and give up.
Then, in late Fall of 2007, my dad found out he had a condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse, which means that a one of the valves in his heart had worn out and was no longer working properly. It’s not an uncommon problem, and—thankfully—isn’t as critical as many heart conditions. But it meant that my active, healthy dad could no longer do things like take a walk or climb a flight of stairs without feeling weak and short of breath.
In January 2008, he opted to have open-heart surgery to repair the valve. By Fall of 2008, he had started jogging to help rebuild his cardiovascular strength.
At that point, I realized that I could no longer make excuses to myself—there was truly no reason that I couldn’t be a runner if I wanted to be.
So I went to the gym, hopped on the treadmill, and started jogging—at a 12-minute mile pace—until I had to stop and walk…a whole eight minutes later. And then, I walked until I could jog again. And I refused to listen to the voices in my head that tried to tell me I was weak and slow.
I walk-jogged for about two miles that day, and when I was finished I realized that when I allowed myself to let go of my negative, self-deprecating thoughts, I actually enjoyed running. I wanted to try it again the next day, so I did.
I kept it up, and so did Dad. In March of 2009, we went on our first jog together—two and a half slow, chatty miles around my apartment complex.
Since that day, we’ve both stopped and started running for various reasons. Sunday was my dad’s first jog in quite some time. (He’s becoming quite the cyclist, though!) But when we finished, he thanked me and said, “That was fun. I’m going to go out and try it again soon.”
What I Did Last Week
Tuesday: Off (Baking Class)
Wednesday: 3.5-mile run (My self-motivational strategies worked!)
Friday: 3.5-mile run/walk
Saturday: Off (Travel)
Sunday: 5.2-mile run
Tuesday: Off (Baking Class)
Wednesday: 3.5-mile run
Thursday: Strength Training
Friday: 3.5-mile run
Sunday: 5- to 6-mile run
My goal for this week is to fit in some strength training!