Most days I feel like an imposter. Not a real runner. Not a real athlete. Just a wannabe. I have been running since I was about 10 years old. I saw the Boston Marathon on television and the seed of hope was planted. Now, 35 years later, I’m still running but nowhere near Boston.
As I read the stats posted by fellow runners I can’t help but be envious of their natural ability. They are not imposters. A number of them only started running in recent years and yet they fly on the road. Their mileage increases at enviable rates and their speed is on a chart I could never hope to be on. They are dedicated. They are running in 90* heat and 20mph winds. They run Intervals and Tempo runs and hills. They wear all the right clothes…
Life gives everyone trials to deal with. Mine affect my running. It’s just the way it is and sometimes it sucks and most times I just suck it up. What’s my excuse today? A real runner wouldn’t make an excuse. A real runner laces up and is excited to head out the door with loads of energy ready to tackle that run. And every day one friend or another is having a breakthrough. The failure permeates me. Who can’t run three miles for God’s sake? I’ve been running my whole life. I ran two marathons back to back less than a year ago and I struggle to run three miles? Why is this hill kicking my ass? Why do I have to constantly stop and breathe? Why does it take me 5.5 hours to finish a marathon? In my heart I feel better, faster, stronger than all of that.
I went out on a run the other night. It was my 7 mile night, but I was hoping for a little more.I was nervous about the mileage. It was cold. 23* cold. It got dark. The sun sets so early in the winter. I run on all the main streets, complete with rush hour traffic, buses picking up and dropping off and the occasional other runner out getting their run on. The lights from homes, headlights, taillights, busy stores and storefronts keep my way lit and guide my feet as I lightly head out on a familiar route I think will give me the miles I need and keep me on my main streets. It was cold (did I say that already?) and I had to talk myself into staying on the road and not turning around and going back, choosing the frigid air and the promise of a good run rather than sweats and a good book.
As I ran I felt strong. I ran strong. I’m not fast. But it still felt good, right. I listened to the words on my headphones as I ran and found myself tuning out the voices and watching life around me. Accepting myself for the runner I am…slow, inconsistent and certainly no rockstar, I am my best me when I am running. I am honest, sometimes strong, sometimes weak, and shockingly…not always happy I took the run. When the run is bad and I feel like a failure I am not glad I went. But I suck it up, move on and try again. By myself, on this evening in the quiet, lost in my thoughts running…I am more me than at any other time in my life. As I turned the final corner that brought me home (7.5 miles later…) I realize I have never felt so complete as when I am running.