I consider myself to be truly blessed to have so many running friends that are also trained in the ways of the pen (/keyboard). Today Haylie Swenson, who is currently pursuing her masters in English at George Washington University, enlightens us with the experiences and questions that arise for first-time runners. When Haylie isn’t guest-blogging for me, she can be found host-blogging on her own blog, or her shared creativity/pretty things blog, My Cherry Amour. Otherwise she is probably taking a nap.
Running for the First Time and Then Blogging About It
1. I’m in 8th grade. I’m not at all athletic (which will continue to be true for grades 9-15), and yet for some reason I’m doing surprising well at a P.E.-mandated mile-long run through town. Really well, actually. Maybe it’s because I just want to get the whole thing over with, or maybe I’m actually experiencing a competitive streak, but for some completely inexplicable reason I pull into the mile’s final stretch at the head of a pack of bored pretty girls with whom I am blessed to share the joys of physical education. For one brief, shining moment I understand what it might feel like to be athletically competent. Then, with only a few yards to go, one of the snotty girls pulls ahead of me and finishes first. Fact: I never have been, and never will be, fast. Her victory feels like class warfare.
2. I’m a senior in college and I’m on Pacific’s club rowing team, which allows me to feel reasonably athletic. I love rowing, but it’s January or February and the lake is closed due to its being effing cold outside. So instead of rowing, we’re running. We start by running a few blocks around our postage stamp-sized campus. This should be fine, but there’s one problem. Remember the part where it’s effing cold out? Turns out, my ears are super sensitive to cold, so by the time we’ve run our blocks I have a splitting, horrible, world-ending head/earache. Also, because of the fact that I’m the slowest person in the world, I’m the last to make it back to the gym, where Coach Eric has prepared a new batch of torture. We partner up and started running around the gym. Each partner has to take turns lapping her other, still running, partner. I still have a piercing headache. Also (and I really hope this is clear), I am REALLY FREAKING SLOW. It takes everything I have (and a solid two or three laps of all-out sprinting) to pass my partner even after she’s slowed to just about a walk. The practice feels like it lasts forever, and at the end I’m pretty sure I burst into tears.
Third, I happen to live right next to a pretty great river trail where I can run with a minimal amount of people laughing at my stick-figure running form and – bonus! – see rabbits and birds and deer. I also have some time in my mornings these days, since none of the classes I teach start before 9am and I’m used to getting up at 6:30.
Fourth (and most importantly), I really wanted to be a guest blogger on Colleen’s blog.
So, with the above reasons in mind, two weeks ago I began running. I’ve been using this training plan that I found via Runner’s World magazine, and it’s been doable so far (seasoned runners, I hear you scoffing, and I don’t care. I care a little).
It starts easily enough that I’ve been able to be successful with each run, which is pretty much a first, and a pretty good feeling. I’ve gone for five runs now, and I like it. However, I have a few questions, which I will put to you, seasoned runners:
1. Where the hell do you put your keys? I’ve been clipping them to my sports bra, ’cause I’m classy like that, but I’m open to other suggestions.
2. Because I alternate running and walking, passing people is awkward. I dread passing someone just so they can pass me again when I’m in the walking phase. How should I deal with that? Mostly I just turn around abruptly and run the other direction.
3. What should my ultimate goal be? I’m not fast (did you catch that yet?) and never will be, so should I go for distance? Or a certain time?
4. Sum up the barefoot running debate for me in either fifteen words or less or haiku form. Thank you.