I had a love / hate relationship with running since I was a teenager. I tried running here and there, mostly because... Rocky. I liked the idea of running but not the actual running itself I would go for a run and I would make myself run but I was not a runner. In my early 20s I came across a book 'Born to Run' by Christopher McDougall and it changed everything for me overnight. From barely running a 5K every now and then I went to a daily 10K. Just like that, something in my mind clicked and I became a runner simply because I decided to, because someone told me that I could. And that was the real start for me.
Ok, I didn't become an epic runner but my mindset changed so much after a while that I stopped seeing running as the means to stay fit but rather as an activity to feed my soul. It became part of my identity. Running 10K daily of course didn't last as I eventually quite literally ran out of steam but I kept on running while actually enjoying the activity. I picked up barefoot running because of the book as well. I am still running 'barefoot' (wearing shoes without any padding) today.
My running went through several evolutions throughout the years. I tried to find that perfect pace, perfect distance and time to be just right. If I run for too long, I get too tired and SO, SO VERY HUNGRY. If I run too little, I feel like I haven't done enough and not doing enough is my least favorite thing to do. It was trial and error all the way.
I am very lucky in terms of location. I moved to Greece 15 years ago and I live near the sea with a beautiful running path. I used that path for many years. It's not ideal all the time (primarily because of the wind and heavy storms) and it's not 100% safe either. So about 3 years ago I made a deal with myself: If I manage to run an entire year, every single day no matter what I will take money out of my savings and buy a treadmill. Even though running is such an integral part of my life I still had to be sure about this. Aaaand I did. I ran every single day, 365 days - even once with a twisted ankle. Towards the end, COVID struck and we were all in a lock down. I continued to run - back and worth on my balcony (it took an hour every day). When it was raining, I would ran up and down the living room (that took 1.5 hrs).
I earned that treadmill. I earned it. I ******** earned it.
Aaaanyway, I have a treadmill now
I use it every day. It's a manual curved treadmill that doesn't require electricity. It took me about a week to get used to it as it was a bit harder to run on it but I adjusted quickly. The display broke about a year ago but I don't mind so much because I usually time my runs anyway. I run exactly 20 minutes every morning before breakfast. I find it's the perfect amount of time for me and I don't get too tired and too hungry afterwards. Sometimes I run much faster, sometimes I crawl - but it doesn't matter, I just do my time.
Running is part of who I am today. A day doesn't feel right if I miss a run. I am not as obsessive about it as I used to be - as in, I don't feel murdery if I miss a run, but I do try to find that 20 minutes in the morning, regardless of how busy I am or how I feel. I find that you never know what kind of run it's going to be. Sometimes I am dead tired and I really, really don't want to run but then I do and it's the best thing ever - I feel so alive afterwards! And it feels silly afterwards to have even considered not doing it. Then, some days all I can do is place one foot in front of the other for 20 minutes. You just never know! It's like a box of chocolates
I don't run much but on one of our nature trails is a little steep hill at the end, my wife and I always run up. Sometimes we come across other steep paths we do a run, otherwise we walk daily. My apartment fitness centre has cardio machines, I'll set the treadmill at it's steepest and increase the speed to almost running. I mainly use the stationary water rower for warm-ups - 500 meters in 2 mins.
When I was at school in England all we ever did was cross country running and soccer, sometimes other things but rarely coz teachers would rather not bother so they could smoke cigs.
When I worked for a builder I'd do sprints now and then, lots of steep grades and stairs.
My Taekwondo club has a big focus on fitness, and running laps was a big part of that. When I started, running 10 laps of 15m (one lap was up and back, so 30m but with a sharp ubend halfway) in 1½ minutes was impossible. Running had always been difficult for me. I have since learnt that part of the issue is loose tendons and ligaments caused by faulty collagen, and to run well, you need stiff tendons. So, hey, I won't run well, but I'm going to run.
I set to work, running at training but only then. I didn't get much better.
A friend of mine returned from living overseas for a bit and no longer needed his treadmill. I said I'd take it off his hands. The power supply had been changed to suit Europe (it had been bought in Mexico), and when it got here to Australia, the plug also had to be adapted. It hums louder than I do, but it works. It does have an incline capacity but there's no setting for it so I've just got to guess. And it's in miles.
I found Darebee and the Walk to Run challenge, so I gave that a go. Managed to get through but only just. Decided I simply wasn't made for running. By then, though, I'd discovered Zombies, Run! but I still walked to it. Yet, I'd like to run it...
Last year, for my daughter's birthday, I bought her a year's subscription to Zombies, Run! which included an 8 week to 5k training programme. Of course, I had to get myself a subscription to keep her company! I actually ran my first 5k and was so chuffed! But it was very hard and I was very slow.
After a few months, I decided to do the 5k training again. I was still so slow. Then after a while I realised that it didn't matter how slow I was so long as I was actually running. So I've recently set myself a running goal.
And something happened on Wednesday that has, I think, helped cement this goal. I had walked up a mountain (this is very hilly country - lucky to be able to run 5 minutes on the flat most places!) and was gently running down the flatter parts and walking the steeper bits. This was good for me because my rest times were exactly when I needed them. Anyway, I passed a young woman and during a walk phase, she came up to me and asked if she could run with me. Run. With me!
I'm actually a Runner!
I think the first time I "ran" thinking about it was when I went to try out for some sport I can't recall while on my exchange year in the US. I think I managed 300 meters before having to walk. Then, no more running until the end of university when I started bouldering and climbing, and running one lap was the warmup. I enjoyed it and soon I was running 3-5 laps every day for about 3 months. Then I moved various times to various countries and completely gave up, until eventually several years later I came home from work one day and said "let's go for a run". And just like that, I ran 4 times a week, 30-50 minutes, for about 2 years. I even ran two 5k races, with rather bad results.
Then again life happened with no running, and when I found Darebee almost two years ago I started the 8 weeks to 5k, in December. Smart it wasn't, but I did it, in the snow and rain and ice.
I then proceeded to do all the running programs, and when I was done, I also stopped running. So now it's been about a year where I've been running maybe 4 times in 12 months, I want to change that but I guess I haven't found my spark again yet. Maybe one day. My shoes are right there by the door and look at me accusingly, every now and then I dust them and promise to take them out... My issue is that I have not identified yet what makes me just take up and go and keep going, there's no pattern. Sometimes I try, and don't go again for 3 months, sometimes I go and keep going every day for a year. Why? Nobody knows!
I have always been a runner! I don't remember life before running. There have been times in my life when I wasn't running for one reason or another (injured, too busy, unsuitable weather, bad headspace about not being as fast as I used to be), but the condition of not running always feels wrong to me, like I'm not being true to who I am.
As a kid I was always trying to get a game of tag going. Unfortunately for me, the other kids on my street did not like running as much as I did and would only agree to play if I agreed to stupid rules such as "every fence post is a home free zone". (For them. There was never a home free zone for me.) Boring. At one point I convinced them a better handicap system would be no home free zone for anyone, but I was only allowed to use one leg. This worked for a couple of games until the other kids realized I could still tire them out and catch them, even when I was only allowed to hop.
In school I was introduced to competitive running races in I think the 4th grade. A day off school to go run around a track a bunch of times and get shiny red ribbons embossed with gold foil for winning? Sign me up! In middle school (grades 6-8) running was a serious sport, with school teams for both cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring. We had practice after school every day and competitions most weekends. It was awesome!
One thing I learned to love about running when I was in middle school was that it was a sport I could excel at on my own. It didn't matter if the other kids were slow or lazy or didn't want to show up at all. I could still show up, I could still compete, and I could still win. (Contrast this with soccer, which my father finally allowed me to play around the same time, after eight years of me begging and him saying, "No. Soccer is a boys' game," and me throwing temper tantrums over my outrage at his position on this matter. But by that age, all the serious soccer players were playing rep. And my father would only sign me up for house league. Soccer is awesome when you actually get to play it, because soccer = running. But when your team loses over 50% of its games by default because not enough players show up to field a team, it sucks royally.)
In high school running switched from being an individual pursuit to being a team sport and the centre of my social life. My school already had a very good girls' cross country team before I got there. The school also had an excellent running coach who knew what he was doing and who invested more of himself into the team than any other teacher in the school invested into any extra-curricular activity. They were regularly winning regional competitions before I got there but had not yet managed to pull off a provincial championship. Enter little Laura--a scrawny little "minor niner" (slang for grade nine student), but immediately the 4th fastest runner on the team.
The 4th runner is a big deal on a cross country team. Your team score is the sum of the finishing places of your top 4 runners, with the lowest score winning the competition. So even if your top three runners are very good (which they were on this team), if your 4th runner cannot pull off a strong finishing position, you won't win. The trouble was, the fastest girls on the team were all two and three years older than me. I would have to move up an age group to run with them. This would mean both racing a longer distance (my coach was nervous about this because I was scrawny) and giving up my chance to excel as an individual by competing against runners my own age. My coach was very clear that the decision on whether or not to move up was mine and mine alone. No one was allowed to pressure me. For me though, it was a no-brainer: You mean that if I run junior we'll win? We'll win OFSAA (Ontario high school championship)? Sign me up!
So I did. And we did. My coach registered us as a club (open to everyone, not just school teams) junior team and we won the OTFA (Ontario club) championship as well.
The next year, the high school team was split up for school competition as two members were by then seniors, one was still a junior (and wanted to run as a junior), and I was still a midget. But we had new grade nine kids join the school who were good runners and a transfer into grade ten who was even faster than me, and we won OFSAA as a midget team that year. The age category for club juniors was under twenty, so we still had the full team for that (plus 3 runners from other high schools who joined our club team) and we won both OTFA and CTFA (Canadian) championships that year. I wasn't a scoring member of the club team, due to the addition of the girls from other schools. But I still got to travel to Newfoundland with the team and compete in nationals.
Nationals was an adventure of a different nature: horrible for me at the time but ultimately a defining moment in my life and an accomplishment I am still proud of today.
CTFA junior team cross country championships are held in the middle of November. Mid-November has a decent chance of already being winter in much of Canada. When St. John's put their name forward to host the championships in 1985, they boasted that theirs was an excellent location because it had not snowed on the championship weekend in St. John's in 11 years. In 1985, on the Friday night before the Saturday morning competition, St. John's got dumped on with 8 inches of snow. High winds created snow drifts up to 2 feet deep on some portions of the course. The club hosting the event actually sent people out first thing Saturday morning with snow shovels to manually clear the starting line for us so we wouldn't be standing in shin-deep snow waiting for the starter's pistol to sound.
To add insult to injury: the kitchen at the Holiday Inn (where all of the out-of-town athletes were staying) infected over half the field with gastroenteritis. I spent the night before my one and only opportunity to compete in nationals worshipping the porcelain god. By morning I was no longer puking, but I had a throbbing headache, was exhausted, and could only eat about two bites of toast. My coach didn't want me to run. But there was no way I was missing that race! So I lined up on the starting line with everyone else. It was still snowing, and still windy. I ran 5K that day with my eyelashes glued together by the blowing snow, at times barely able to drag my feet out of the snow drifts which were deeper than my knees in places. That was the one and only race in my life in which I finished dead last. But I finished the race. Half the people who had lined up on the starting line with me that morning did not.
The next year, two members of the core team had graduated high school (including our top runner, who won a full sports scholarship to Stanford), and the coach dropped our club team. But we continued to do well in high school competition. My team placed fourth in provincials when I was in 11th grade and won again the next two years. In the 12th grade, on the strength of our OFSAA win, my team was chosen to be the first Canadian team to represent Canada at an international high school championship race in Luxembourg. I got a ten-day trip to Belgium and Luxembourg out of that (for free, thanks to my coach being an excellent fundraiser and the Belgian government putting us up for a week for free at their Olympic rowing teams training facility).
So yeah. Running was a pretty huge freaking deal to me in high school and also a major refuge from my home life (which had become pretty awful my first year of high school when my grandmother died and I immediately became the new scapegoat and primary target of my mother's abuse).
After high school, running was not the same. I tried running varsity my first year at university. But the team was not very good, and I was the only first year on it, and the only team member living in residence. Running varsity meant I missed eating dinner with my res friends and had to eat at the special late dinner they put on for athletes--which was just football players and me at that time of year. Not fun. Plus, by second year I had switched majors to drama and was busy with extra-curricular dramatic productions most of the time. So running fell by the wayside.
As an adult, running is harder. It's harder to find the time. It's hard to find the money. I don't have a team anymore. I had a back injury which messed up my ability to run for about nine years. And I'm no where near as fast as I used to be, which is tough mentally. But I still try to do it, because I still feel better and more like myself when I'm running.
Currently my goal is to run 20km per week. It's still hard to find the time for that some weeks. And I cannot handle extreme weather as well as I could in my youth, which limits my ability to get out there both in the summer and the winter. But I'm more or less managing it most of the time, and I've more or less moved beyond my mental baggage about no longer being a fast runner.
Middle School (my teammates nick-named me "Darth" because they said I look like Darth Vader when I'm running):
Our first OFSAA championship win. When our school principal found out we had won, she drove out to the event site and gave us all blue and white (school colours) carnations:
My grade 12 team and the girls' team from Israel outside our cabins at the Belgian Olympic rowing facility:
After the ISF race in Luxembourg. It snowed for that race too! (The Israelis went out the morning of the race and purchased running shoes. They had never run in snow before and were accustomed to racing barefoot.):
Me and my best friends in high school--my teammates!--hiding out from the rain at some race or another. I still miss these gals!:
I love these running origin stories. <3 Thanks everyone for sharing.
When I was a kid I would run for fun. I grew up in country, and a lot of that running was over trails in the middle of woods. I cut a path through woods, and would run it nearly every day. I ran to the library and to the pool. I hiked and ran everywhere. My mom took me and my brothers to state parks and wilderness trails a lot, and I really treasure that she did that. I loved running on forest trails.
I grew up around horses. My mom worked at a stable and eventually leased a horse, and I spent TONS of hours running with the horses, playing push/pull games with them at liberty, a lot of sprints and abrupt stops and changing directions. All of the horses would play, but my favorites were the youngins. They had a little more play drive I think lol. Spirit was my favorite.
In high school I joined the track team. At first, I thought it was perfect. We ran trails in state parks. The community and team aspect was really nice. Then, we started running on a track and I hated it. I tried to stick it out but was not having a good time. I quit the team before competing. I joined the military not long after high school, and didn't really run much beyond the required PT tests. I didn't really run much at all until relatively recently.
I picked up running again a few years ago. I was working at a rescue squad and had a really nice trail just by my station. It was so much fun that I quit smoking to improve my times! Since then I've been building up distance. I've signed on for a four hour ultra at the end of October, and although I don't think I'll be able to finish a marathon distance in that time I'm pretty confident I can at least get close-ish! Unfortunately, I've picked smoking back up again (it's been maybe a couple months now) and that's messed up my running times. Whoopsies.
I still adore trail running over everything else. There's nothing better than letting gravity carry you downhill, not thinking about anything but the next step. Going up is a little less enjoyable but it's worth for the downhill bits lol. I try to run three-ish times a week, and try to fit a trail run in at least once every couple weeks. Although I'll never be a truly competitive runner, I love how meditative it is and I am glad I found my way back to it.
I wouldn't call myself a runner but I am hoping to become one.
For a short period of time, a few years ago, I ran consistently with a group of people two days a week. I could then finish a 5K in what I think was a reasonable, if not a fast time. At least I could finish it without having to walk.
But it somehow didn't last. In the years after that, I have done no running (and very little sports activity) at all. Darebee has got me moving again, and Zombies, Run! has given me some structure in my running. I am currently on week 6 of the 8-week 5K training program. I am enjoying this a lot and I really hope that I will get to a point where running is part of my normal routine.
I have known several people that were totally hooked on running but I have to say that I never experienced this feeling myself. I like the idea of myself running, I am very happy when I have done my running for the day, but I don't always enjoy the act of running when I am doing it. However, I would very much like to persevere and get to that point. Stories like the one from @Laura Rainbow Dragon sound very appealing and inspirational.
I can tell that my muscles are still rather weak, which is something that is preventing me from enjoying running sometimes. It is often the muscle soreness that is holding me back, not being out of breath!
Since I was a kid, I was always moving; running with play and catch, playing soccer with the boys, going inline skating. I've done a few years of karate, in which we ran some rounds, which I liked. In high school I was mainly cycling (to school), horsebackriding and doing squash fanatically. I tried running now and then, but nothing structural. Mostly to blow off steam. I ran in Central Park while I was in New York at age 17, that was really awesome.
It was in college when I became a serious runner, inspired by a teacher telling about the ladies run that was held every year in the city. I went running with a friend, but had old shoes and gave myself a tendon injury in my foot right away. So I started learning about safe running, got myself new shoes and a training schedule. A year later I ran my first ladies run, 10k!, and many have followed! I even ran a half marathon.
With the years and a few moves, my running changed from running on pavement over the dike alongside the river, or the canal, to trailrunning in the forest. I never knew what I did was called trailrunning, but I am loving it. I love the forest, the smells, the sounds, the curved paths, the hills. Running makes me feel strong, alive, it clears my head.
But then I got long lasting injuries and had to change my mindset. After covid the ladies run doesn't exist anymore; running is nowadays more popular for women, so they changed it to a trailrunevent. I hope to do my first trailrun event next year That would be a nice new start after the injuries I had last years. It feels like a turning point; I always thrived to pick up the ladies run again and make some PR's. But I'm not that runner anymore, so starting over in a new run, with a clean slate feels like meant to be.
running... am I a runner? or more a former runner? I don't know...
First of, I don't love running, but I do run. It's complicated... you know, I know the benefits of it, but...
I don't really like running longer distances... And ended up running more or less than 20-25km, I even got a treadmill....
so, how could this all happen?
Well... in 2006 my son was born and while he was growing and getting more and more mobile, I thought it might be helpful to get a bit more endurance and overall fitness
to be able to keep up with him in the future... (no... no spoilers here)
but I wasn't quite sure what to do and everyone told me "go running, that's great" and I was like.... "naaahhh... you mean outside? in circles? not for a sport? just for... fun??"
"yeah, try a marathon or half-marathon as a goal, register for a race nearby and train foro this"
well... no... I don't like the idea of just running down the streets or in a circle or whatever... but... (I said it's complcated)
so, after I skipped this idea, I saw a report about an obstacle race (which is around 20 to 25km in distance), which was just around the corner...
and I thought, now this looks fun, more fun than just running through a city... I mean, mud, obstacles, climbing, crawling, water, more mud and a lot more mud...
that's playing around that's the right thing for little lpf... so I regestered for this in 2009, my first obstacle race ever...
And I had a year for training for this... and I did train, I ran every other day, starting with like 5-6k and ended up at 12-15k the month before the race...
I ran through the wood nearby, not on the streets... I ran while it was raining (something I still enjoy the most!), I ran during the winter... I didn't enjoy every run
I never got this runner's high, but I ran...
After like 5 or so years and 5 obstacle races, a father of my son's classmate talked to me and we both started running together... we ran other obstacle races,
we even ran a half marathon together in a city (as part of the preparation for the obstacle races... at least he told me, that this would be a good training and I was in)
and we kept running until 2021... than his knee got injured and he had to stop running (we are now biking together)
And I stopped running? well.... more or less... I will go out and run with my son as part of his training for his school (he's doing sports as an advanced class for his Abitur)
and for his sports...
could I keep up with him? regarding the longer distances, yes... but when it comes to sprinting, there is no chance for me...