What keeps me going with running is the pride I feel in completing a run. For this formerly 256 pound, decidedly non-athletic person to be able to say "I ran 5 (or 10 or 13.1) miles" is just astounding, still, to me. It hasn't gotten old, even after a year of running.
Wanting to make a statement to myself, I ran on January 1, 2010 with my son, Max. I asked him to go running with me because I was embarrassed to get out there all alone - I was sure that my neighbors would be watching me from behind their mini blinds, laughing at the slow woman attempting to run. I huffed and puffed for 20 minutes and at the end, I was quietly pleased and shocked that I actually did it.
I ran on December 31, 2010 - as regular readers of this blog know, I ran all year, and it was important for me to symbolically close out the year, where I actually followed through with something that was really challenging to me, by going for another run with Max.
What also keeps me going with running is the changes I've seen in my body; changes that continue to surprise me, like when my boots zipped easily over my calves recently.
When I began running - when I started doing something that I never did even during the heyday of jogging in the 1970s (and I grew up in California, where jogging was as common as Boston ferns, hot tubs and macrame), I thought "this is IT - for sure, NOW my body will be different." There were times in the beginning that I envisioned myself having a runner's body - long, lean, flat-chested (only those who've endured big boobs their entire adulthood will understand this one)...oh, I was an amazing looking athlete - in my mind. I forgot a couple of things: I'm short. The descriptives "long and lean" will NEVER be applied to me. My thighs, while smaller, are still hefty - just a lesser amount of heft. I finally realized that running would not magically transform me into someone that I'll never be, and I'm OK with that.
Today, a year later, my body is different. It's healthy. My calf muscles are really pretty. My thighs are strong. But I discovered something more important than that...I found out that I can get out there and run for 5 or 10 or 13.1 miles. I can run when it's really cold and also when it's really hot. I can start a race and complete it. A year ago I could barely run more than a mile...and that was done very slowly. I have made huge improvements in my running, and I almost never improve in anything - usually if it "needs improving" I quit. So I'm especially proud of everything that running signifies to me. And the fact that I am proud of myself - well, that keeps me going.