Running (Or “17 Year-Old Jamil Would Kick My Ass”)

Check the short shorts

Today was the first time I’ve gone running in over fifteen years. First of all, it’s crazy to me that I’m old enough to say that it’s been fifteen years since I’ve done anything. I was on the cross country team and the indoor track team during my senior year of high school, and it was the most fun I had in all the extracurriculars I did. My main event was the 800 meter run as the anchor on the sprint medley team. We weren’t great, but we had a great time doing it. I wanted to continue running track in college, but I got there and was intimidated by the real runners, the ones who had been training since middle school. I never picked it up again, even as a hobby. Still, I enjoy being outside and looking at the world around me. I usually accomplish that by walking everywhere I can. But I’m getting older, and I don’t do any kind of exercise. This morning, I woke up and said, “Today is the day that I run.”

I got up, got dressed, stretched for about a minute and left the house. I didn’t even know where I was running to until I started. I could have taken the time to plan a route, look into proper running technique, download a running app, grab a bottle of water…but all those things would have gotten in the way of what I wanted to do. It’s been a matter of motivation for years. I said the problem was that I didn’t have any running shoes. When my ex bought me a pair, I still didn’t run. I said I didn’t have a route. When I found out the community center near me had treadmills for free, I still didn’t run I’ve had the tools and the opportunity for a while. In the end, I had to follow my brother’s advice- “There’s nothing to it but to do it.”

So I ran. I chose a brisk pace, nowhere near as fast as I ran when I was racing in high school, but more than a leisurely stroll. I still wasn’t sure where I was going, but I knew how long I was going to run- until I couldn’t anymore. The music was blasting in my ears, and the cool fall wind was whipping across my face. My first goal was to last for three songs. If each one was about four minutes long, then that would be a good twelve minutes. Of course, the first song that came on was six minutes long. Okay, scratch that. Keep running until the four-way intersection. I didn’t know how far away that was, but it was a goal I could visualize, even as I sucked air into my tar-coated lungs and felt my legs burning with use. The four-way intersection was just around the corner. I could see it in my mind, but my body was giving out. I settled for the next street instead.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to calculate the distance I ran with Google Maps:

0.9 miles! My first run since high school, and I almost made it a mile! Not only was I proud of making it so far, I was equally proud that I didn’t force myself to finish the mile. My body told me that I’d had enough, and I listened to it. I want to run more regularly, and now that I’ve taken the first step I can do the other things to help support that. I’m not making any grand promises about running every day or entering a marathon. I feel good about getting out of bed this morning and going for it, and I did enough for today. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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