A Runner

My workout this morning called for five miles. Run two, walk one, run the last two. I think in the Fall or Spring it would have been fairly easy, but today, in the July heat and humidity, every step felt like dragging a pair of anchors. My muscles gave out sooner, my breath ran out faster… it was a hard workout. I finished it though, because what I’ve learned is that even when it’s hard, even when you are having a tough time and not going as fast as you’d like, you always have to finish.

I never imagined myself as a runner. I certainly don’t look like one. Before I started this friends of mine would talk about running marathons and half-marathons I’d look at them in wonder and think how I’d never be able to do something like that. Now I’ve run two 5ks, one 10k, and I’m scheduled to run another 5 and another 10 in the next few weeks. I get up at five almost every morning during the week and run, and normally have another long run on Saturday. I think after a few years of this I’m finally comfortable enough to say I’ve become a runner. Today, even though I’m not ready to say I’m training for a marathon, the possibility is there, for the first time in my life.

I’m not sure this would have happened without my iPhone. Every morning I strap it on my arm, launch the Nike+ app, start a podcast in Overcast in the background, and start the day. Before I used Nike+ I used the excellent Couch to 5k app, which gently took me through getting off my lazy butt and pounding the pavement. The most important thing I took away from that app was the routine. Once I ran the 5k I didn’t want to stop, so I switched to another app and a longer goal and kept going.

Running is my time. It’s what I do for myself, it’s how I make sure that the day is started right. It’s how I can put my busy mind to rest. It’s how I can balance staring into a computer screen all day solving puzzles with my concept of who I am and who I should be. Running is hard, running hurts, running is difficult and uncomfortable, running is calming, running is meditation.

I run in the heat and humidity. I run in the rain. I run in the freezing, bitter cold of winter. I run in the dark. I run before daybreak and I watch the sunrise over a pond along my route. I run with my dog. I run alone. I run in new shoes that give me blisters on my heels. I run when it hurts. I run when the weather is crisp and cool, and I’ve got all the energy in the world, and my legs forget their burden and carry me for miles and I feel like I could run around the world.

I’m a runner.