I’m Not a Runner…

I’ve always said, “I’m not a runner.” 

I’ve always said, “I hate running.” 

In fact, for many years I lived by the joke: if you see me running, you better run too, because something is probably chasing me. 

But, here’s the irony, I’ve always envied runners

You know the people I’m talking about. They’re the people who can seemingly run for days without ever slowing down, or even taking a break. They can be in a full out sprint and make it look like they are taking a leisurely morning stroll. As they pump their legs, it seems like they’re almost flying as their feet barely touch the ground before the next step.

I would see these people and wish that I could run like they do. Because the truth is, even though I was an athlete all my life growing up, I could never run like that. Running was always a struggle for me, and so I avoided it as much as I could. And once I became an adult, I all but gave up on the idea of being a runner. 

So you can imagine my surprise when, a little over two months ago, I decided to go for a run. It was nothing serious, just a couple times around the track—and it was really just to try something new. 

But something surprising happened. I actually…kind of…enjoyed it. And after going a couple more times, I even decided to go out and buy a pair of running shoes. 

Then it happened. 

My first time out with my new shoes I strained a muscle in my calf. 

Immediately I thought, “Well, there it is, that’s why I don’t run. I’m not built for running. My body wasn’t designed for running.”

“I’m not a runner.” 

But despite my initial, negative reaction, I didn’t want to give up. So after giving myself a couple of days to rest and heal, I tried again… 

…And bam! Same thing, but whereas the first time I had gone about a mile before it happened, this time, I didn’t even make it to the end of my block. 

“That’s it, I’m done,” I thought. 

But after hobbling back to my house, I had to remind myself that I was just starting something that I hadn’t done regularly in over 15 years. My body was bound to have trouble adjusting. 

So, this time I gave myself over a week to heal. I wanted to make sure my legs were ready to go. And the next time out, I made it to the end of my block without any pain. I made it around the first corner, then the second, then the third. But as I came up on my first mile, I felt it. It wasn’t quite as severe as the first two times, but I knew it would be if I didn’t stop. 

This time, though, instead of blaming myself, or my body, I wondered if it could be the shoes. Afterall, the problems really only started after I got the new shoes. And, long story short, it was. 

I got fitted for some new shoes, and after giving myself a few days to get my legs back to normal, I set out on a run. This time I made it almost two miles before calling it quits (not because I was hurt, just because that’s all the farther I could go). 

That was about a month and a half ago. And in that time, I’ve been thinking a lot about running (usually while I’m running), and how many similarities it has to life. How we look at the “runners” around us, and we see these people who seem to have it all together, who seem to be so far ahead of us, who seem to make things look so easy.

And, we get down on ourselves because, maybe, we aren’t where we want to be. We aren’t as successful as we think we should be. Our finances aren’t where we want them to be. Life, in general, just seems to be more difficult for us. And we look around and we wish that we could be like those “runners.” 

And if you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve thought, I’ll never get there. I’ve dug myself too deep of a hole. I got started too late. I’m just not cut out for this. 

Today I want to offer you some encouragement. 

Three months ago, it had been over 15 years since I had run for at least one mile consistently. 

Two months ago, I was having trouble even running down my block without hurting myself. 

One month ago, I had finally found a good pair of running shoes and was able to run for about two miles. 

Just a few days ago, I ran 9 miles in just under two hours. That might not seem like a lot to some people. But that’s farther, and longer, than I have EVER run, or expected to run, in my entire life. 

Whatever challenges you are facing, I want you to know, you’ve got more in you than you know. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to come easy… In fact, it might be the hardest thing you ever do. But I believe you have what it takes. 

And if nothing else, remember this: You might not be where you want to be, but you aren’t where you used to be. 

I’m not a runner… But I want to be. So, I’m going to be.

-Ben Larsen

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