There are two kinds of people. Actually, there are a whole lot more than two, but I don’t have time for all of humanity today. I’ll stick to two: people who run, and people who are runners. The difference is subtle. People who run, run. Runners run, by definition.
People who run get out and do the thing. They may talk about it, they may not. It’s not the running, that drives them, it the results. They may hate running, but love having run. When I first got married, my new husband and I read Kenneth Cooper’s The New Aerobics. Cooper had a point system: you would exercise for a set speed and time and just rack up your points. Thirty points a week and bam, you are healthy. (Maybe not quite that easy, but you get the point,)
We would run three miles, four days each week. Our Texas suburb has plenty of sidewalks, quiet neighborhoods, and fellow humans to wave at as we huffed past them. And huff we did, or at least I did. I utterly hated running, but like most, I liked having run. The results started showing after only a few weeks. It probably helped that I was 26 and immortal, as twenty-six year olds tend to believe.
I think we managed to do this for three months. But for me, it was not sustainable. Not the running, but running at my husband’s pace. Sure he slowed down for me, an 8 minute mile or so. But it was a miserable daily experience, so it somehow fell out of our lives. We were not runners. We were people who ran.
Six years later, I was a stay at home mom, with two kids, and no money. No fancy gyms, no step classes, just me, two boys under 3, and a house built in 1940. By the time my husband came home from work, I was ready for some alone time, so I would pop a casserole in the oven and go for a walk. That’s when I had the epiphany. All around me in the neighborhood there were people running and walking. But people who ran were lithe, gazelle-like creatures and the walkers, like me, were round, solid plodders.
Form follows function, right? I started running from mailbox to mailbox. Neighbors, seeing me red face, or maybe hearing my labored breathing from their yards, would ask if I was ok, implying they would call 911 if needed. I smiled, waved and plodded on. But since I was alone, I ran at my own pace, slow but comfortable. The rhythm of my feet lulled my organizing, controlling brain asleep, and my creativity awoke.
Six months later, I ran my first 5K race. I was no longer someone who ran. I was a runner.
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