I don’t remember exactly how much distance I covered on foot during my first “run” on May 29, 2011. I’m not sure if it was more or less than what I covered on my “run” Thursday afternoon. I know that it was close, and they both felt super freaking awkward.
In 2011, running felt awkward because I hadn’t done it in so long. In high school I jogged during preseason soccer practice and logged some miles (more like a mile) before baseball practice started trying to work my way into shape. I jogged around campus once or two with my roommate my freshman year of college, but got most of my physical activity on the basketball courts in the field house. After graduate I played some pick up basketball and a few years of men’s league baseball, but running wasn’t something I had much interest in. I ran the trails at UMA a few times with my work colleagues, but it wasn’t something I ever really wanted to do.
But in 2011, my weight had climbed to close to 240 pounds and I had to do something differently. I joined the gym on May 3 to start my journey, and started to run on May 29.
It took a long time before running felt like anything but awkward. I was carrying a lot of weight, I was running in worn-out cross trainers, baggy basketball shorts and XXL cotton T-shirts. Eventually, weight came off, I was fitted for running shoes and bought running clothes.
And running became a part of my life. I broke 30 minutes, then 25 minutes, then 22 minutes in the 5K, I broke 1:45 in the half marathon and 3:50 in the marathon. I’ve run races in New York City, Boston and Chicago, made a few friends, and jogged with some friends who had always been runners, but never convinced me to hop on board.
Almost 10 years later, running feels super awkward again. I’m running just a few days a week, I’m doing some walking during those runs, and I’m carrying around too much weight (though almost 50 pounds less than when I started).
Running is awkward right now because I’ve been injured, I’ve developed bad habits, and I put on weight staying at home trying to survive the pandemic. Running is awkward because I’m trying to break those bad habits and because of those 20-plus pounds I gained during the pandemic. Plus, I’m not completely over those injuries yet.
But 10 years after that first run, I am still a runner. I am not the runner I want to be, but I am absolutely still a runner. I am going to physical therapy twice a week because I want to be able to run, I want to be able to run pain free, and I want to enjoy running.
I’m not happy with where I am as a runner right now, but I am happy that I am still a runner.