‘HOW did you learn how to run?’
This past week a woman I have met a few times confronted me for details.
She wants to run a Disney Half Marathon and has never run before. She LOVES Disney and is using that for motivation to get started on some lifestyle changes.
She asked me how to get started running.
I said the generic, supportive things like ‘take the training slow’, ‘get good shoes’, ‘look on-line for one of the Disney training plans’ and ‘you can do this!’
She listened and then said…
‘Yes… Betsy. I GET that it will take a while to learn to run any distance, and that I can’t give up… BUT HOW DID YOU ACTUALLY START RUNNING?’ (She was speaking in all caps at this point. 🙂 )
I had to really think back to what it was like when I took those first awkward, shuffling steps…
It started with driveways and telephone poles.
I had been walking with focus and intent for several months and was working on walking faster and longer distances. I’d walked several 10K’s at that point.
I live in the farm country. From our farm to the stop sign is 2.43 miles round trip. Five houses on the road, one annoying dog, some railroad tracks. The roads are usually empty.
When I finally decided I wanted to learn how to run, I picked a short distance and gave it a shot. I planned to jog between two telephone poles on our road.
I made it across the width of our neighbors driveway.
Those telephone poles suddenly seemed MILES and miles apart.
I jogged the driveway and then I walked to the stop sign. And when I got back to our neighbors driveway I forced myself to jog back across.
The next few days and weeks I forced myself to add a few running steps each day.
By the next month I was struggling, but I was jogging between those freaking telephone poles.
I had a huge grin on my face.
I was not discouraged. And that’s probably the question I get asked the most when I tell this story. “Man, you must have been so discouraged to have such slow progress…’
That question really offended me at first.
I had moments of wondering what in the hell I was doing. For sure. No doubt.
Do NOT forget that I wanted, was working very hard to create, a whole new lifestyle. And I was being chased by diabetes. I was in a very real race for MY LIFE. You could say I was motivated.
The fact that it took me a month to hit my initial goal of jogging between telephone poles? I saw it as victory that I didn’t give up, NOT discouraged with the time it took to get to that goal.
I just wanted to jog between those two stupid telephone poles and be able to say I did it. And I eventually nailed my goal. 🙂
But then I didn’t stop with the telephone poles. I kept looking for new landmarks.
I remember the first time I ran all the way to the stop sign.
And then the time I ran to the stop sign and BACK.
I just kept picking landmarks and made a game out of pushing myself to get there as fast and best I could.
Those first physical steps were really, truly that small.
That is how I started running. 🙂
And for the record? I still play the landmark game when I’m pushing to something new, or I am tired or struggling… Just get to that bend in the road, that tree, that rock in the road, just one more step…
It works every time. 🙂