Inspiration: I Call Myself a Runner
I’d like to call myself a runner. But that’s probably a stretch. I frequently say things like, “I went for a great run last night,” when I really mean I shuffled around my neighborhood some until I got tired, then came home and tried not to look at the cookies in the cabinet. But I’m trying.
In high school, I was on the track team. I cheated. No, it wasn’t steroids. I cheated myself by not really running. When we were supposed to go out for distance road runs, I usually found a nice place to hide out for awhile, and then I would catch up with the rest of the team when they came back for cool down. The truth is I hated running. It was just too hard. Needless to say, this lack of effort showed in my consistent last-place showings in track meets and my doughy thighs.
Now in my mid-40s, working long days at my bank job in Manhattan, commuting for over two hours a day on Metro-North, I have discovered something new about myself. I need to run. I don’t do it to “be on the team.” I don’t even do it to “look good” anymore, although, I have to admit, it does help me battle the cookies. I do it because it gives me back something that gets robbed away during the weekly grind.
Running is me. It is me breathing. It is me sweating. Shedding the stress of the week. Feeling the rhythm. Listening to the songs on my iPod. Working on my pace. Setting mini-goals like “Pick up the pace until you get to that stop sign” or giving myself reminders like “remember: heal-toe, relax your shoulders, don’t bounce” and enjoying little successes with every step. It is me feeling the pounding of my feet in my running shoes on the uneven sidewalk in my neighborhood. As I run down Washington Boulevard, I breathe in the smells of the river, the trees, the exhaust from cars. I can feel the heat of the sun on my face on a Saturday afternoon in March as I run past the Trump Tower. I notice the snow is still melting in some areas along Mill River Road. I jump over puddles and watch for buckled cracks in the path at Scalzi Park. I smile and pass neighbors out walking or pushing their babies in strollers by UConn. I check out the houses and landscaping and cars of my town. I wonder if this sweatshirt is too heavy today.
I’m not going to win any races. I’m certainly not going to break any records or impress anyone out there. But I will feel calmer, stronger, more free, and a little less doughy.
And, I can call myself a runner.
–Susan Carson, Contributing Writer
(Susan Carson is a businesswoman, certified personal trainer, and black-belt martial artist. Read more about her here.)
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