I Promise This Isn’t Going to be a Fitness Blog Now

What started as a somewhat half-hearted New Year’s resolution – start running again – has morphed into quite the hobby. I started the first week of January with a friend and we, along with my nieces, ran a 5k in March. When I went to the shoe store sponsoring the race to pick up my packet, an employee mentioned that they had a training program starting up the following week if I wanted to get some extra coaching and encouragement. Also: there would be a t-shirt.

So against my better judgement I enrolled and then almost immediately freaked out. An email from one of my new coaches read, “While this is an individual sport, you are now part of a team, so take the time to get to know the other great people in the group.” Um, what was that now? I like running because it is a mostly individual endeavor; I like having some quiet and being able to concentrate on my pace or just zone out for once. And now you’re telling me I should try to talk to people? Like a functional adult with basic social skills? Sure. Just what I want to do at the end of a long day of being “on” at work and talking to strangers: talk to more people while I’m sweaty and out of breath. Bonus!

At the first meeting I did see someone I know and chatted her up; she’s in the more advanced group so we were split up quickly. I glommed on to a former co-worker, too, but scheduling conflicts made it hard for her to come each time. As we were doing a walking warm-up to get moving I found myself side-by-side with a woman who appeared to be near my mom’s age. We made polite chit-chat about the weather and joked about the not-terribly-scenic meeting place out by the airport.

“I guess it’s a good place to have a group. Lots of wide open spaces and room to park,” she observed.

“Yeah, it’s definitely empty. I wouldn’t be surprised if we found a dead body out here,” I answered.

“Wait, what? Oh my God.”

“Oh, no, wait, like on Law & Order – it’s always people out for a run who find the dead body in the park or whatever… I love Stabler,” I blurted.

Teambuilding, motherfuckers!

***************

Despite my commitment and genuine enjoyment of running I still hesitate and demur when asked, “Are you a runner?” Self-deprecation and jokes and qualifying follow in my answer. “Oh, yeah, I belong to a training group, but it’s for fun. No big deal. Just a couple miles at a time. I’m slower than a herd of turtles.” Hahaha. Silly Christen!

You get it.

One of the coaches and I ran together early on and he said, “You’re a runner. An athlete. Take yourself and what you’re doing seriously.” He meant it in a kind, encouraging way, not a sanctimonious one that shamed me for my love of pizza and beer. And yet: I have a hard time doing exactly that. We had dinner with my parents a few weeks ago and I had an extra helping. My mom commented on my unusually robust appetite – not in a harsh way, but simply observing that I was eating more than she had seen in some time. “I’m an athlete in training,” I shrugged.

“Oh, yeah, RIGHT,” she laughed.

Running? That’s the easy part. Changing my mindset and expecting the people around me to see me differently? Well, there’s no 10-week training program for that.

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2 thoughts on “I Promise This Isn’t Going to be a Fitness Blog Now

  1. That’s frigging hilarious! I would join the group just for the entertainment value of your commentary. Laughter takes my mind off the pain. Also, one way to respond to people who suggest you’re not an athlete is simply to invite them to come run with you. That’s usually enough to make my older brothers shut up and change the subject.

  2. I’m such a hopeless dork. I have met a few people who aren’t completely freaked out/turned off by my personality so we usually seek each other out and run together. And I keep the dead body/Stabler talk to a minimum.

    Ha! I like that strategy!

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