Hello, Lady in the Way Too Huge Cotton Tee,
I have never seen you, but I feel like I know you after reading Colby’s Open Letter to you. And I certainly have seen many like you – runners at the start of their running journeys – unsure, intimidated and probably in pain. Like Colby, I don’t look at you with pity or condescension. I, too, am rooting for you. Impressed by you, knowing the courage it takes to start. Thrilled to see someone starting an activity that can truly change their life.
Keep Going. Wherever you are headed – be it a miler, a 5K, a marathon or no race at all – just general fitness, you will get there.
Oprah has said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” And she is right. Unlike sports that might require technical skill, strong coordination or special training, running really is about what you put into it. If you keep trying, you will be able to run your goal distance without stopping. You will. It really is that simple.
Note that I said “simple,” not easy. Running is not easy. And it is not for everyone. But I hope you stick with it at least until you reach whatever goal it is that you have set for yourself. After that, maybe you’ll decide that a different form of exercise is better for you. But I hope you stick with it long enough to get that amazing sense of satisfaction from doing something difficult and reaching a goal.
Colby told you in her letter that she WAS you – years ago, when she began running. I’m here to tell you that I AM you. Now. Not with running, but with cycling. If you saw me running on the road, you might avert your eyes and feel shy. I have been running for 25 years. And I run like someone who has been running for, pretty much, forever. With ease and a sense of confidence.
Oh, but if you saw me on my bike!! You would look me in the eye and know that you were looking at a fellow struggler. I just started cycling this past year and know the trials and frustrations of starting a new sport. Being a natural runner does not translate into being a strong cyclist. Sweet Jesus, I can confirm that.
On my bike, I’m a total novice. I’m nervous. I’m slow. I crawl up hills. I fall down for no apparent reason. Once I even fell down in my driveway, for no reason other than…screw it. I had no reason at all and I still can’t figure out what the hell happened. I just know I was up, and then down on the ground, still clipped in and tangled up in my bike. Not my finest moment.
I know that feeling of not wanting to look others in the eye and usually, the only reason I look fellow cyclists in the eye and greet them is so they know I am ok and that they don’t need to provide medical or other assistance to me. Nah, I’m just slow and ungraceful, but otherwise, fine. Howdy!
Let me tell you though, as happy and exhilarated as I feel when I finish a great run, I NEVER feel so proud as when I finish a long ride. Even if it isn’t pretty and (it rarely is), I feel like I am on top of the world. Why? Because it’s hard. Because it scares me a little. And I do it anyway. That’s where a true sense of accomplishment sets in. It sounds like that might be what running is like for you right now. All the more reason to be proud of yourself.
So, please, please, keep up with the running. It doesn’t matter how you look, how long it takes or how many times you need to stop for a rest. Every time you set out, you are getting stronger and better, even though you can’t always see it. Keep up the good work!
Oh, and the next time you see Colby, look her in the eye and let her into your life. You won’t regret it.