Six or seven years ago, a friend asked if I wanted to do a 5K. I laughed and responded, “No way.” Back then, running one loop around the track meant hamstring death, lung incapacitation, or both. I couldn’t imagine enjoying anything close to a one mile run, let alone 3.1 miles. I thought it was impossible to enjoy such an atrocious activity.
Now, I don’t recall quite how I talked myself into running on the treadmill that first time. It wasn’t until a few years later. I had long ago promised a 5K would be well out of my reach, and even in that first moment, I promised myself it would be “just 5 minutes.” That 5 minutes was as awful as I’d expected. My legs screamed after a minute. It felt that my lungs might explode with each gasping breath. I prayed for a quick death and watched that timer tick each second closer to 0. It was one of the most painful 5 minutes of my life.
I have to give my husband (then boyfriend) at least a little credit here- we encouraged each other to keep going to the gym. It was during one of those routine trips that I first used the treadmill, and believe me it wasn’t on that first visit. No, I looked at the treadmill each and every time I went to the gym with something like disgust, and each time prior I convinced myself that I could get a better workout doing something else. It was just an excuse.
Another visit to the gym and I managed to talk myself into another 5 minutes, despite how painful the first 5 had been. That next 5 was still painful, but somehow it was a little more bearable. Something in me clicked after that moment. I promised myself that I would find a way to “break” the treadmill, like you might “break” a horse. I was still convinced that I would never enjoy running, but the cliché, “no pain, no gain,” was enough to convince me that I should at least give it a try.
After a few more visits to the gym, that 5 minutes turned into 10. It was sometime around then that my husband started running with me, and if you know anything about me, then you know that I am competitive. Day after day, we ran those 10 minutes together. Within those 10 minutes, we soon completed an entire mile. You might laugh, but it was quite the accomplishment for us to get a 10 minute mile back then.
I eventually realized that my husband was good at sprinting, but that I had better endurance. So what do you think my competitive spirit decided to do? That’s right, I started running longer. Just as competitive, my husband refused to be beat and that 10 minutes turned into 15.
Several months of running eventually built up to 20 minutes… then 30. 40 minutes turned into 60 and we were running up to 5 miles at a time. After all those months, running actually became invigorating.
It was shortly after this that I fell off the path that I carved with spirit and drive. Some health problems had cropped up, but I told myself that it was alright. I “broke” the treadmill, won the battle, proved to myself that I could do it.
A few years passed and when my health allowed, I ran from time to time, but I had become tired of the broken horse. The treadmill had never been that interesting anyway. It was something to do, a challenge at the time, but I overcame that challenge long ago.
So I started running outdoors. My health improved and I refocused on increasing the distance. For the first time, I actually found a love for running.
I ran my first 5K last fall, an 8K last month. I have another 5K this month, but I hope to find a 10K to run in the next month or so. After that, I plan on running a half-marathon (after more intensive training, of course).
How did I go from hating to run to looking forward to my next 5K? I gave it a chance and I kept going. Running became my haven, something I looked forward to doing, but it wasn’t for the lack of effort. Impossible is only an excuse.