The Road to Running (continued)
Duringthe most inactive years of my life, my brother was becoming a runner when hestarted taking running classes at his university, which required him to participatein 5 and 10K races. After a few semesters, he started running half marathons,and even a marathon, a full 26.2 miles. I admired him for his diligence in histraining and endurance, yet thought he was slightly crazy for running thoseridiculously long distances. Again, I secretly wished that I were a runnerbecause since childhood, my brother and I were competitive and I liked to considermyself the better athlete. I rationalized with myself that I had talentselsewhere; I was the better snowboarder and volleyball player.
Thefirst time I tagged along with my brother to one of his half marathons was thefirst time I ever spectated a race. I was surprised by how exciting it was towatch hoards of sweaty people run by; some wore funny t-shirts, neon coloredtutus, and even a banana costume. It was a spectacle, to say the least. I wasalso surprised by the diversity of runners; the speedy, gazelle-like runnerswere leading the pack, but the vast majority of runners weren’t pro-athletes.There were all different body types and fitness levels represented. Some peopleran at a slower pace while others walked. The one thing everyone had in commonwas the desire and courage to take on the 13.1 mile challenge. After attending mybrother’s races, the question would still linger in my head: Could I run thatfar? Am I physically capable of doing it? When I thought about it too much, thedistance seemed too daunting and I thought I should try tackling a 5K first.
Istarted slowly. When I first started running, I felt that I couldn’t suck inenough oxygen to supply my fatigued muscles. My problem was that I was runningtoo fast. I had to find a pace that I could sustain without losing my breath.At a more relaxed pace, I could just focus on breathing and the steady rhythmof my feet. I found that within the first 10 minutes of a run, I would fallinto a pattern of breathing in synch with the cadence of my footfalls; itstarted to feel natural, and even easy. Next, I focused on how long I couldrun, to ignore the voice in my head that wants to quit. Just run for 15 minuteswithout stopping. Those 15 minutes became 20, then 30 minutes. The first time Iran five miles, in about 50 minutes, I was amazed at myself. Running was stillboth a physical and mental challenge; physical, when my muscles feel weak andfatigued, and mental, when I want to quit mid-run. But the exhilaration ofreaching a personal record and seeing how much I had improved kept me going. Istill wasn’t consistent, and my laziness got the best of me. I found excuses tonot run: I was tired; it’s raining, or too hot, or too cold. The sporadic weekswhen I did run gave me confidence that I couldbe a runner, if only I did it more often.