I’ve heard over and over again from friends and other non-runners that they’d love to do what I’m doing, but they’re “not a runner.” While a number of people have suffered physical injuries, others seem to see running as a nebulous goal that only the “super fit” can achieve.
It’s been pretty much three years since I decided to overhaul my life. I was working at a large firm in San Francisco, and while the people were great, the corporate environment wasn’t for me. Given the unpredictability of the hours, I ate poorly and never exercised; and, while weight isn’t the best measure of health, I’d gained weight too. Sure, I was able to climb HalfDome in Yosemite, so I wasn’t totally unfit, but I was pretty close.
So on my 30th birthday, I quit my job and decided to travel the world while I became accredited in Canada. I’d vaguely thought of getting in better shape and was taking longer walks and trying to eat better. But my real inspiration came from my friends: when I travelled to LA, San Diego, Vancouver, Calgary, and Regina, I saw the same story repeatedly. Friends had done something to improve their health (whether gym classes, biking, running, or walking) and clearly felt better for it.
After weeks of excuses, I first started running in Regina. Despite having decent athletic endurance as a kid, I made it for just 12 minutes, and almost threw up. I then progressed to about 20 minutes at the cottage, and expanded to 30+ in Knoxville (a big turning point for me). But I was sporadic, and spent more time at the gym instead.
It was on my travels when I really started to embrace running. I mean, it’s not like there’s a 24 Hour Fitness in Kathmandu, so you have to work with what you have (even if it includes being chased by wild dogs). And running formed a big part of my travel experiences (the subject of some other post).
But even then, I never thought of myself as a runner. In October 2009, I was scared to train for a half-marathon because I was travelling to Kenya and Eastern Europe in the weeks beforehand. My first half-marathon wasn’t until May 2010 – almost two years after I started running!
Since then, I’ve done 6 half marathons, a 20K, and a ten miler. Even greater, two of my best friends have trained for and completed half-marathons (each surpassing an ambitious time goal).
I’m not going to proselytize about the physical benefits of running (even though I’m fitter and more at ease with myself than I ever have been). I’m just saying that if you’d asked me three years ago if I’d even complete a 10K, let alone a half-marathon, I’d have thought you were crazy.
And now, on my 33rd birthday (May 15), I’m hoping to bring everything full circle by completing my ambitious goal, while raising money for a good cause. While it will take hard work, I wonder if I’d be in this position if it weren’t for the influences of my good friends across the continent.