I wasn’t a runner growing up. I didn’t come from a running family. I do remember period of time where my dad and my uncle we’re running fools. What are running fools? When I was a kid, a running fool was anyone who ran. Who would choose to run 3, 5, 10 miles, or more? Who would want to lace up their shoes after a long day at work? That would be my dad. He would lace up and head out on his run as we kids were heading to bed. It seemed absolutely ludicrous to me.
Fast forward to my adult years.
Because of my insecurity, I was hesitant to begin the sport that my dad enjoyed for many years. It wasn’t that I didn’t “know” how to run. It was that I didn’t “look” like a runner. Eventually I found trees that I could run behind, and I found trails that would take me off the beaten path. However, what changed my running forever was when I moved to a big city. We moved to Washington DC in the winter of 2004. I didn’t know a single soul. It was very lonely from a friendship perspective, but it was heaven from an insecure runner’s perspective. No one I knew would see me run, so I could run as far, and as slowly, as my body wanted. It was absolutely glorious!
I currently live on a little island, where everyone seems to know everyone else. Somedays feels like I live in a fish bowl. I find myself regressing to that insecure time…that time when I cared what people thought I looked like when I’m running. It’s the strangest thing. On paper, I know I’m a runner; I have 40 marathon medals to prove it. I post pictures of me running on social media all the time. I’m almost 46 years old. I shouldn’t care what anyone thinks about how I look when I run, but deep down, I still do. I obviously have some internal work that I need to do.
The truth of the matter is…
There is no “ looks like a runner.” If you put 1 foot in front of the other, and you’re moving faster than a leisurely walk, you are running. If you are running, you become a runner. There are so many things, beyond your control, that can affect your running: illness, injury, unsafe environments, and other priorities that need your full attention. Don’t add “feeling insecure” to that list.
I’ll re-read this last paragraph over and over until I believe it whole-heartedly. Until then, I’ll keep forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other because I legitimately love to run.