The Innocence of Running

Before I continue with my other race recaps, I thought it would be a nice break to talk about a different topic altogether.

When I first picked up running, I was naïve and running back then was totally innocent. I remember walking into a general sports store (a SportsChek or something) and grabbing a pair of what I thought would be good running shoes. Thinking back, they were so heavy and obviously not fitted to my feet properly, but what did I know back then…I would wear any old cotton tees. My runs would be at a speed of about 3.5 mph, on those old treadmills that were self-powered.

I bought all these running books and studied diligently on how to run my first 10k. Do I walk/run? What speed could I maintain without burning out? I remember asking a fairly seasoned runner on how to up your mileage from 8k to 10k. It was so hard then. For hill training, I would run up and down a 3-storey pedestrian ramp 4-5 times. After every run, I wanted to give up. What was the point of putting all this effort into training for something that was so difficult? I did not see the pleasure in running at all!

Each time before I went out for a run, I would tie and retie my shoelaces a million times. I would check and double check if I had emergency cash on me and my house keys in my back pocket (which would be secured with a safety pin over my pocket) in case the keys fell out. Plus, I would go to the washroom at least 3-4 times before I would actually leave the house. I would peek out the front window to see if it was raining or about to rain. I was so over-prepared! Hilarious.

When the weather got cooler, I would wear about four layers of clothes: tank top, long sleeve, pullover and windbreaker. Usually mid-way, I would shed my windbreaker and tie it around my waist such that the sleeves would hit my ankles when I ran. And at every intersection, I would have to adjust and re-tie it so it would not slip off my waist.

When I passed friends in the midst of a run, I would stop and chat, but it took me forever to re-start. It was worse running with more experienced runners; I was so excited when the traffic light turned “red” because I could stop and catch my breath. With a hill surge, I had to pretend I could go up without any problem, when in fact my lungs were burning and my legs were dying – but I just wanted to prove that I could keep up. I stopped at every water-fountain I could find, and took bathroom breaks wherever I could. When I went out for an 8k run, I don’t think I ever ran more than 4k continuously.

Plus, when I started out in one of my running clubs, every runner was on the same page. We were mostly “novice” runners, so we would share stories about our training runs, which new route we tried out and so on. We formed this level of comradery and we all tried to help each other out. The excitement was oblivious to every one of us new runners.

After a rainy/muddy run, I would go home and spray my shoes with a hose, scrub and clean them and then let them dry in the garage. I treated my running shoes like some guys’ sports cars! I did not want any dirt on them, and felt almost heartbroken when they did get dirty. And with any racing shirts I got, I would wear them everywhere as if I needed the whole world to know that I ran a children’s 5k run! Oh how proud I was!

With the first few Vancouver Sun Run 10K races I did, I enjoyed collecting the race t-shirts that came with the registration. I folded them so neatly in my running gear drawer, and occasionally, I’d dig them out and admire them 😉

Those were the days! Every run and race was a novel experience. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to those running days of innocence. For some of those experiences were my most joyful moments of running. Had not been that innocent (or naïve), I probably would never have picked up this sport.

To any new runners out there, may you persevere, and go on to further your distance or speed, or if you choose to stay at your “innocent” level, enjoy every moment of it.  To the seasoned runners, occasionally it is good to look back at that stage of “innocence” and realize how far you have come.

Whichever stage you are at, just keep putting that one foot in front of the other!


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