3. Real Runners

3. Real Runners

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners

Real Runners

Life is a long lesson in humility.
 ~James Matthew Barrie

It all started when I ran across a “how to” article on running in a magazine. Day one consisted of walking for 30 minutes — yes, walking. I could do that, I thought confidently. Day two added one-minute stretches of running interspersed with walking. I could do anything for a single minute, I mused. The program ever so gradually evolved into more running than walking until, at the end of eight weeks, you’d be running for 30 minutes — a couple of miles — without stopping. All you had to do was follow the plan.

That first day I called up my friend Linda and casually asked her if she’d like to go for a walk. I didn’t tell her until we had already hit the trail that I was embarking on a “plan.” Adding one minute of running the next day sounded reasonable to Linda, too, and she wholeheartedly signed on. We could do this. I borrowed a stopwatch, and we were on our way.

We stuck to the plan, even though those one-minute intervals seemed to last an eternity. We spent the recovery times discussing the daily events of our lives until the stopwatch beeped again, demanding another spurt of effort.

On the fourth or fifth day it rained, and we hesitated… but always one or the other of us would spur the other on. Several weeks passed, and we had completed half the program and were now running more than we were walking. We both went out and bought quality running shoes and dug up water bottles to carry with us… we were becoming real runners after all. We continued our regimen religiously, and now we chatted even during the running portion of our training. We shared our hopes, dreams, and fears, developing a deep bond while facing the physical challenges and pushing ourselves to accomplish our goal.

At the end of eight weeks we were running 30 minutes straight. It might not seem like much to a real runner, but as two previously non-athletic moms sneaking up on middle age, we were thrilled with the accomplishment. And then we did what all real runners do — we signed up for a race: a 5K just a few weeks away.

With newfound confidence from having completed our program and continuing to give each other encouragement, we anxiously pinned paper numbers to our T-shirts and then started and finished our first official race. It was an amazing high for us. We had become real runners!

A few days later we went out to run together again. Parking at a trailhead we did our pre-run stretching behind the car. Leaning against the trunk with our hands, we lengthened our legs behind us to stretch out our hamstrings — just as we’d learned from the running magazine. We were both still jazzed up from our recent triumph. Our heads were filled with images of ourselves as buff athletes, our bodies finely tuned running machines — real runners who ran in races! But it soon became apparent that our new status was not yet obvious to the general public. Our reverie and self-congratulations were interrupted when not one, but two cars slowed down and stopped, the driver of one leaning out his window. “Do you ladies need help pushing your car?” he offered generously.

~Marjorie Woodall

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