Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's a Type of Sickness

If anyone would have told me a year ago, I would love running - I would have told them to check themselves into a mental hospital, for serious reals.  Despite playing many sports throughout my middle, high school and college years and having various levels of success, I never got that love for running that some people have or working out for that matter.

Let's not confuse things here, I mean I love to win.  I am fiercely competitive if need be, and so if you give me a ball and tell me the purpose is to put it in that goal or to beat five other people from a start line to a finish line well I'll do it almost every time and enjoy it thoroughly.  But working out for working out sake I didn't enjoy until around 2004 after the birth of my second child.  With my changing body shape and size I felt not like me and so I hit our local gym up, 24 Hour Fitness - at the time, for a membership.

I loved classes and the mixture of social interaction and feeling of strength.  I love watching everyone as I work out, helping to push me a little further than I might go independently if I didn't see them in the 270 degree mirror surround.  I liked the way I felt after my workout too.  It was a feeling I had started to forget a bit.  I ran with some loose regularity and through each of my successive two pregnancies, but it was not something I ever enjoyed.

Fast forward another 7 years and you will find that after a move, a period of physical inactivity and a much sparser selection in nearby gyms in the area, that when one opened it my very own town I was among the first to enroll and get a membership.  Once again I gravitated towards the classes starting with Zumba and working my way through some newer and tougher ones.  The spin classroom when first starting out is a black lit, techno color, very loud death coffin.  I grew stronger, I grew tougher and I earned the respect of my gym peers - not only for my awesome fitness moves, but by my ability to sing throughout almost every class and to without abandon wear a leotard and leg warmers for an 80's throwback week.

Fast forward another two years and the local gym hit a bump.  Financially some things weren't working out as they hoped.  As a result they had to cut class schedules extensively, charge extra for the remaining ones and eliminate child care. This was no longer a concern for me now that my children were all school age, but my demographic was instantly gymless because most of my cohorts needed the childcare and didn't know how to work out without an instructor.

I decided to hit the treadmill.  I knew from past experience that it really was a good workout, that I really could cut weight and it would be the best thing for me.  I did lots of little runs here and there and around the town.  But still hated the gym and running most every day.  But when a fellow gym rat continued to bug me about joining her at an upcoming half marathon - I started to consider it.  It may just be the motivation I needed to actually run instead of jog on the revolving belt loop called a treadmill.  After some midnight texting and a special promotion on runners day or some other mostly made up holiday I signed up. 

After a couple of group runs, I felt dumb for having done so.  I recruited another friend to join me in my torture.  But I continued to train.  Days turned to weeks, turned to months.  My miles increased and I still felt the torture.  I told my husband, "No matter what I say, never let me run another half marathon again."  People told me I would learn to love it.  I knew they were crazy.  One month before my half marathon and after overcoming my fear of running outside, I really started to like the long run.  It wasn't the same kind of like I have for donuts or reading a book or taking a nap - some of my other favorite things.  But I like how strong I felt, how disciplined I had become.  And I could finally see my hard work and training coming together.

And so here I am 6 months later, mentally committed to running every spring and fall a half marathon, almost 20 pounds light - who knew I had turned into such a chubbo, because I promise I still don't look that fantastic - and almost loving running.  I miss it the days I can't fit it in.  It's a lot easier now days too.  Each morning it's a conscious decision, but I guess I've developed my own kind of love for this sport.  And so every time I hear someone tell me they don't know how I do it, how they could never do it, I think of myself and how much difference 6 months can make.  I know better than to tell them they will love it too, if they stick with it.  Because let's be honest - I never believed anyone before when they told me the very same thing.  And that's how I know running is a sickness, a disease if you will.  You may not want it, but once you catch it there's no way to get rid of it.  It stays with you.

1 comment:

Kim A Sechrist said...

Mary you just inspired me. Thanks for the boost of energy and confidence I miss you guys a ton. The kids and I just watched an old video of travis and the girls wrestling. Sooo funny.