Never imagined that one day I’d write about running. It wasn’t something I was even mildly interested in. I felt I was too old when it became all the rage. And I thought it would injure me. Or maybe, I just didn’t have the courage.
At the age of 53, I returned to the gym. To warm up, I got on the treadmill. In the beginning, I jogged for 15 minutes. After a while, it felt lame. So, I gradually upped the ante. By the time I ran my first race, a 5K at the age of 55, I was already running between 30-40 minutes on the treadmill.
I ran my first race to support a friend. I had no intention of running another race again. Then came the pandemic. All cooped up at home, the idea of a virtual run suddenly seemed interesting.
Incredibly, the first virtual run I joined was a 42K. I can’t believe I had the audacity to register. This particular race allowed runs to be staggered within a 10-day period. And that was the attraction. It made 42K possible for someone like me.
I was sporadically running at home, mostly 4-5K at a time and maybe, once or twice, I ran up to 8K. But I thought, if not now, when? And yet, despite the euphoria I felt after running my first 42K, I didn’t think I would run again.
It was brutal. I was not used to running distances beyond 5K. Every time I breached 8K, my feet seemed to scream at me. I always imagined them bloody and bruised but they never were, afterwards, when I looked.
But another virtual run called out to me. It’s historic so I have to join, I told myself. This was the first time I ran a 15K—my longest run ever. Had no plans to join another one but another friend came calling. I now felt like I was coming up with all kinds of excuses to keep running.
Last weekend, I joined another 15K virtual run accomplishing my personal best in 15K at 1 hour and 43 minutes.
As you can see, it’s not a world record. And I’m not, by any stretch, an elite athlete. But it certainly puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step to know I’ve done something I never imagined in my wildest dreams I was capable of doing. And at 57.
Athletics wasn’t part of my life, growing up. We read books. We didn’t play sports. I hated ball games. But I joined the gymnastics club. And along the way, I developed an interest in dance and martial arts.
You don’t have to set a world record in sports to feel good about yourself when you play a sport. You don’t have to be a competitive player to feel like a winner. You don’t have to be an Olympian to feel like a champion.
Never imagined that one day I’d say this but you don’t have to be great at something to enjoy doing it. You just need to be there — in the moment — to feel the rush and the sense of accomplishment. But. It takes courage.