I never run. Ever.
Overweight from the age of around 9 or 10, I was one of the so-called ‘fat kids’ who would hang at the pack of the pack during gym class runs, wheezing, red-faced, and fighting off an inevitable stitch. I never knew how to breathe, how to focus, or how to stop myself quitting.
When I did manage to focus in 2001 and lose a third of my weight, I tried spinning classes, power-walking on the treadmill, and finally found the ultimate fat-burning exercise in the form of a strairclimber.
But still, no running.
In short, I haven’t run since 1989. Well, there was that phase in 2007, where I bought a pair of rather expensive running shoes and used them precisely once. But we don’t talk about that.
When I lived in Victoria (B.C.), runners used to really piss me off. Sure, occasionally I’d drive by that obligatory red-faced guy in oversized gym gear panting his way through an evening run, and wholeheartedly sympathise with him. But for the most part, the runners I saw down by the beach were already super-fit; superb specimens; human beings at the peak of their physical prowess.
They pissed me off because they made running look easy.
Let’s fast-forward to 2010. Last week, in fact. Having been mostly sedentary since I moved here in November 2009, in April I’d taken to power-walking on the treadmill three times a week. Progress had been marginal, despite having given up virtually every diet-related vice I could think of. I was unmotivated. I wasn’t seeing the results I did in 2001. I knew my routine needed a kick in the pants.
I’d done a tiny bit of running during my power-walks; if I had the energy at the end of a power walk, occasionally I’d run for one minute, then walk for one minute, then run for one minute again. I thought of the runners in Victoria, and wondered if my 2 minutes of running counted for anything.
So, last Friday, I threw caution to the wind. If both our Great Dane cross and our Chihuahua could run on the treadmill for 10 minutes, so could I. I set the incline level to flat (I usually power-walk on full incline), and started to run.
Ten minutes later, I was still running, so I adjusted the incline and gave myself a little challenge for the last five minutes.
Today, I tried again and ran for twenty minutes. It seemed almost effortless compared to the power-walking, and best of all, I didn’t have to listen to music to keep pace; I just followed the rhythm that my feet were comfortable with.
I felt like Forest Gump in the scene where he sheds his calipers and sprints home.
Running is awesome. I could really get used to this.