For those of us who started running later in life, there are various things that inspired us to initially lace-up our kicks and try this crazy sport. We didn’t grow up on the track. From weightloss to bucket lists to good ol’ peace and quiet, we late-blooming runners have our reasons for starting to run. My running inspiration (runspiration, if you will) was a nameless woman who merely mentioned that she was a runner. Something she said spoke directly to the competitive athlete I had buried deep inside me.
I met my nameless runspiration.
I was out with friends sharing sushi and appetizers over drinks. One of the gals there that night was a friend of a friend. She had long black, curly hair pulled back into a ponytail, and she was wearing a red shirt and black pants. I remember feeling like I towered over her, which makes her short, because at 5’4″ I’m no supermodel. Needless to say, she made an everlasting impression on me, and I can’t even tell you her name. All because she said what every runner has come to say at least once:
“I can’t stay long, because I’m running in the morning.”
“She’s training for the Phoenix Marathon!” our friend announced.
Hello, running. Nice to meet you.
My brain instantly spun into a hundred questions. Wait, normal people can run in races? What rock have I been living under? How far is a marathon?! Do a lot of people do this? Why didn’t I know this was a thing? Are there other distances that you can run? How many races are there? How did you find out about this? When did you start running? Can we be friends?
My nameless inspiration didn’t look like an athlete. She looked normal. She looked like me. If she could run, what was stopping me?
When I got home, I immediately looked up this elusive Phoenix Marathon, which turned out to be a large race! I couldn’t believe that thousands of people turned out to run such long distances.
It wasn’t long before I was in an internet vortex spiraling down the rabbit hole known as running. Soon, I had created a Pinterest board for running; I had discovered the runner’s Bible commonly known as Runner’s World Magazine, and I was reading every article about getting started.
I made my very first goal.
At this point, the farthest I had ever run was one mile, on occasion, on the treadmill. Based on what I had read, if I could simply run 30 minutes, I could learn to run any distance. So I simply had to run 30 minutes straight, by December 31 (because that is when the entry fee for the race would go up, and I am cheap). If I could do that, then I’d sign up for the 10K, which is 6-ish miles. I had a few weeks to get this done. I told myself that if I hated running or if I couldn’t get to 30 minutes, then I didn’t have to sign up. Nothing lost.
I hit my first goal and kept on running.
I have alway been a competitive person. There is a voice inside me that pushes and drives me to be the best that I can be, whatever it is that I’m doing. Whether it was swimming competitively as a child or playing Scrabble with my husband, I always want to succeed. So I should have known that running would be no different.
The first time that I managed running 30 minutes straight, I was on the treadmill. My husband had popped into the room to cheer me on. I breathlessly told him that I had run 30 minutes, and “I think,” gasp, “I’m…going” more gasping, “to try,” deep breath, “for forty…five…minutes.” He promptly began chanting, “You can do it!” And I did do it. I ran for 45 minutes straight, and bonus, I didn’t die!
That night, I signed up for the 10K, and I went on to run in my first race that March.
I never saw my nameless runspiration after that night out with friends. But she will forever be the girl who inspired me to run. Not just run, but train for a race and keep on running.
Share your #runnervibes in the comments below: What or who inspired you to start running?