True confessions of a brand new runner

It’s honesty time. I’ve never been much of a runner or athlete. In high school, I dreaded PE. I would do anything to avoid group fitness activities. A sore ankle became a horribly broken ankle that needed immediate medical attention. There was obviously no way I could participate in gym that day. Or the next day. Or the next month, for that matter.

This habit, a carefully cultivated skill, of doing everything possible to avoid running in front of others or any other group fitness activity, has carried me through high school and college. And now I find myself in post-college, “adult” life.

I’ve always been slightly envious of runners. The agility, the quickness. The sheer power and endurance it takes to propel your body miles and miles in any weather. The willpower it takes to push your body to the limits. It’s beautiful, that strength.

Here’s my confession: It was fear. Fear stopped me from even trying. I was afraid of running in front of others; afraid of not being as good, as strong, or as fast as them.

I find myself questioning my earlier conviction that I would never and could never be a runner. For the longest time, I was convinced that athletic ability was a genetic gift that I wasn’t blessed with. So why even bother trying? Instead of being naturally coordinated, I was unnaturally clumsy.

But in my “old” age I’m tired of being afraid. What was I so afraid of? The same reasons that held me back before don’t seem so scary any more.

So I might be slower than others? Everyone starts somewhere. I refuse to be embarrassed by my current lack of endurance and stamina. True, it may take more me more effort to complete the run. But a little sweat never hurt anyone.

To prove to myself that I’m no longer afraid, to completely overcome the stifling fear that I’ve let hold me back for so long, I’ve signed myself up for a half-marathon.

I often find myself questioning my own sanity.

I’ve given myself four months to prepare. Four months of gradually building up my endurance and strength. One of the biggest lessons I’m learning? It doesn’t happen overnight. Although I may wish to be able to run 5 miles without stopping, I have to start smaller. I have to accept my self, strengths and weaknesses, as I am not as I wish I was. Now I find “self-acceptance” listed under “drink more water” and “eat more protein,” on my list of things to remember as I continue on my journey.

And it is a journey. While I’ve set the goal of completing a half-marathon in four months, I’m more focused on the beautiful, liberating adventure I’m on to get there. I’m discovering a strength I never knew I had.

So this Saturday you’ll find me running down my dirt road as the sun peeks over the horizon. I’ll marvel at the breath-taking beauty that is the human body as my muscles tense, my feet slap the packed earth, and my heart thump-thumps in my chest, reminding me that I am capable, that I am strong.

I am unafraid.

(Image via Shutterstock)