I remember those moments as a school kid when the PE teacher would choose team captains. I knew if I wasn’t a captain, I may as well sit down and wait until the very end to be the last kid picked. I was always the last kid picked, even if a best friend was the captain. I was that chubby/slow/awkward/nerdy kid who no one wanted on their team. It stunk.
I also remember every year, we had to do a physical fitness test. Sure, I could do sit-ups and jump rope, but when it came to the run? I would fail. I never got a president’s fitness award or anything like that. As a nerd, I was always on the honor roll, I was first to finish my times table tests in class, I could spell like it was nobody’s business, but…. I remember feeling like an intense failure when I’d never bring a president’s fitness award to my parents.
The ultimate failure was in 8th grade PE. That day, every student had to run 10 minutes non-stop in the gym for part of the track & field fitness test. And if you stopped, you dropped a letter grade for that test. I remember starting off slow, thinking I can do this…I can…just 10 minutes. I need that A. 5 minutes in, one of the bullies taunted me about being so fat and how ridiculous it was that I was completely out of breath. Between the running and the taunting, I just stopped to walk so I could hold back the tears. My PE teacher screamed my last name and said, “That’s a B. You better run before it’s a C!” So, I got back to it and soon after, my sides started cramping. I had to stop again, but I knew that making a C would be terrible. I didn’t make Cs in school, but every muscle in my body was screaming for me to stop. So, I did. I got yelled at again, and the bullies started with the fat jokes. That PE teacher didn’t care…in those days, bullying was a normal thing. It still hurt like hell, but no teacher really did anything about bullies. Those were the longest 10 minutes of my life, and I ended up with a D grade for that test. My very first D.
That’s something I don’t think I will ever forget. Sure, it was just a 10 minute PE test, but I let myself fail. I let the bullies get to me, and I didn’t get the grade that I wanted. I was so ashamed, and told myself that running was just one of those things I’d never be able to do.
Fast forward 15 years. Now, I’ve been following a good bit of healthy living blogs, watching people run for leisure or because it’s routine. I’ve read about people’s journeys to train for a half or ::gulp::, even a full marathon. It’s been inspiring to read about, but the memories from middle school left a bitter taste in my mouth for running. If I couldn’t run 10 minutes then, what makes me think I could run 10 minutes now?
I wanted to try it, though. I’ve read a few blogs where people have lost 100+ lbs., and their main cardio activity was running.
Hold the phone! Fat people like me CAN run??!
So, I did the first workout of Couch to 5K. One minute running, 90 seconds walking…8 times. I was dead after that. DEAD. I kept thinking…that was just ONE MINUTE. How do these people do it?!
But…I was determined. If they can do it, so can I.
The crazy thing is, I’m doing the Couch to 5K in the middle of summer in Louisiana. Humidity sucks. Heat sucks. I’m a dripping gross mess when I get home, and I’m usually doing my runs at 7:00/7:30pm. Still…it’s hot y’all!
There were many times where I told myself that I should try something else. I’m 265 lbs. I’m too fat for this. But then, during my 20 minute run in week 5, I remembered those bullies.
The ones who told me Shamu doesn’t run…
The ones who told me I was a waste of air…
The ones who told me to get out of their way…
I had a moment where I was about to cry, because I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore. Who was I? I’m not a runner…I will NEVER be a runner….
But when I looked down at my phone, I realized I had already ran for 11 minutes. Non-stop. If I kept going, I could go home knowing that I ran twice the amount of that fitness test in middle school. So I pushed through it. When I was done, I didn’t cry…all I did was smile. I did this. I ran over a mile….without a break.
And then yesterday, I ran for 25 minutes without a break, going 30 seconds faster/mile than the 20 minute run. This week, my runs are nothing but 25 minutes non-stop running. What happened? 6 short weeks ago, I was having my lungs explode over a minute of running. And now??!
COULD I BE A RUNNER?
I mean, first I should ask…AM I a runner yet? If not, when do you call yourself a runner?