Before I started running, this is what I thought runners looked like.
Alone. Driven. Focussed. Fearless. Silent. Tall. Scrawny.
Then a girl I knew – someone who had none of the characteristics on this list – signed up to train for a marathon, and by jingos she did it.
I could do that!
So I joined a running group.
I still haven’t cracked a marathon – life is too full of other things to commit to such a task at the moment – but I’ve become a runner.
And running is really not at all what I thought it would be.
Sure, I’m often alone when I do it, and I am driven to an extent. But I’m not fearless, and I’m definitely not tall. I’m leaner than I was when I began, but certainly not what you’d call scrawny. Indeed, I’ve met people of all shapes and sizes, of all ages and with varying motivations in my weekly running get-togethers.
One of the best things about running in a group is that you learn to run at a manageable chatting pace. Once you start heading out for longer than about 15kms in one hit (i.e. running for more than about 1.5 hours at time), being able to chat and distract yourself is a very valuable thing.
This past weekend I participated in a 5 km fun run with my nine year old son. Although he’s a good footballer and cricketer, he is not a particularly athletic kid. My goal was to encourage him to run the whole distance, enjoy the scenery and have a chat with his Mum along the way. I expected we’d end up walking some of the course.
But he made it the whole way running! It was a complete joy for me. And he got a real kick out of sprinting past his Mum over the finish line.
Running is a great skill for life. We’ll be doing plenty more runs together in the future.
[image thanks to familymwr on flickr]