I always hated runners. As someone who only ever ran to catch the bus I thought of them as pretentious showoffs, herds of Lycra-clad gazelle sprinting through my neighbourhood and hogging the sidewalk.
Strangely, the more they annoyed me the more I wanted to be a part of it and so, at the beginning of the summer, I decided that maybe I should try. Of course, I couldn’t muster up the motivation to get out there by myself.
I decided that if I was going to do this, a Learn to Run training clinic was probably the best place to start.
On the first day the instructor shared the secret to running: You only ever have to run for 10 minutes, and then you walk for one minute.
By maintaining a manageable 10-and-one pace, you allow your body to recuperate and are able to control that little voice inside your head telling you “This is too hard.” I discovered that I could run forever if I only have to think about running another 60 seconds.
The first few weeks were torturous. My calves, shins, quads and other muscles that had been dormant for years were awoken in an excruciating manner.
Not only was I in constant physical pain, but I also felt self-conscious knowing that I didn’t have any of the gear or gadgets to fit in with my new running club. Did I really need a GPS-enabled watch to calculate calorie expenditure and a four-bottle rehydrating fuel belt clipped around my waist?
But as the weeks progressed something unexpected happened — I started to enjoy myself. I felt better, ran faster and for longer, and I realized that if I stretched enough afterwards I could save my muscles from some of the burning pain I was inflicting upon them.
As I ran farther I started exploring new parts of the city. I came across hidden trails and waterfront paths populated with like-minded individuals, a dry-fit army bounding along with matching earbuds.
Sometimes, when I’m not too exhausted to use my facial muscles, I’ll give these fellow pavement pounders a smile of recognition. I don’t need to hate them any more; I’m one of them now — minus the $300 shoes and pace-monitoring shoelace clip with iPod synchronization.
Becoming a runner has made me smug — not because I think that I am better than anyone else, but because I am becoming an improved version of myself. I’ve been reborn to run.