I was a 22 year old outdoor professional. I should have been fit. I hiked mountains, scaled rocks and paddled rivers for a living. But the truth was, I didn’t require any special super-fitness to do my job well. The clients that I guided on these adventures were unskilled beginners and it wasn’t hard to hike slowly with them, or to take lots of time to encourage them to overcome whatever fear they were facing. Nothing happened very fast or hard.
I was super active and strong, but was carrying more weight than was ideal for the size of my frame. I had little self-control when it came to limiting my food intake, and I felt that if I could improve my cardiovascular fitness and decrease my weight, I’d feel a lot better.
My entry into the world of running was completely unplanned on my part. I decided to get up early one morning and go for a walk. Life was full of work, socializing and playing. I felt like I needed some space and quiet to process what was going on in my world. I set off down a trail that I walked regularly with groups of students as part of the adventure program that I instructed. It led to ‘the bog’. A couple of minutes into my walk I had the thought. “What if I ran? I could just go super slow? What if I could run for 5 minutes”? And so I ran. For not just 5 minutes but 26 minutes!! It was a very exhilarating and freeing experience for me. Though I ran, and ran well competively, between the ages of 5 and 12 years, I really felt like I had lost the ability to ever be able to run again. I felt like puberty had killed my running body forever. I tried lots of times through my teenage years, but it was always so hard and uncomfortable. I was sporty, and I couldn’t even achieve my basic pathetic goals of ‘running to the next post’ or running xyz minutes without stopping. Even a season on the track team while I was an exchange student in the USA never got me converted to a happy runner. It was always so hard.
In my moments of exhilaration after that very first run, I realized one key thing. Whenever I tried to run, I always went too fast. Of course I couldn’t achieve my goals. By going S-L-O-W, without the pressure of someone else’s pace, I could do it.
2 days later I ran another 25 minutes, a few days after that, another 25 minutes, and so was born my love to run! That was September of 1998 – nearly 18 years ago. For a completely un-self disciplined girl like me, that is quite the accomplishment for running to still be a big part of my life.