I’m not a runner.
I mean I can run, but it is just not my preferred form of exercise. I much rather do circuits, play tennis, go for a bike ride, use the elliptical or even just go for a walk. But I’ve secretly always envied runners, how easy and effortless they make it look and the sense of freedom that comes along with running. I’ve always wanted that “runner’s high”, that feeling of euphoria but also tranquility that one gets from running.
Running for me has always been a challenge. My face turns beet red, my shins start to hurt, and even though I know I’m in pretty good shape from the other exercise I do, I still look like I’m struggling with every step. It’s not a pretty sight.
This past weekend though, I decided that I wanted, well maybe needed, to go for a run. It was a beautiful evening, absolutely perfect weather. I just couldn’t stand the idea of working out inside when it was so beautiful outside. Besides that, I had a lot on my mind and just wanted to do something that would either help me clear it or help me work through it. Running laps around a nearby park seemed like the perfect activity.
I loaded up my car and headed to the recreational park. There were plenty of people there: families at the playground, people playing tennis, and other walkers and runners. I started to get nervous. I don’t like to run in public, usually I just run on the treadmill in my basement.
I had checked my blood sugar before I started. It was 89, knowing this was too low to start exercising, I had eaten a pack of fruit snacks. I pulled out everything that I would need to have with me on my run: 2 packets of fruit snacks in case I dropped low, my CGM, my car keys, and my phone. My pants (like the majority of women’s athletic apparel) did not have pockets. Anticipating this, I brought a runner’s pack, essentially a fanny pack, that clipped around my waist. I stuffed everything inside and clipped it around me. Again I started to feel slightly self-conscious, I wished that I didn’t need to carry all of those supplies with me.
I started toward the path, turning up my music. I began walking and gradually picked up the pace to a steady jog. However, the runners pack wouldn’t rest on my hips and instead kept bouncing up, becoming more distracting and uncomfortable. I alternated between trying to reposition it so it would stay and trying to keep my ear buds from falling out of my ears. I could feel my face turning red already. I jogged passed a group of older men sitting on lawn chairs, facing the path. They’re probably thinking how ridiculous I look right now. I kept my head down and jogged past without looking at their faces. I hope they aren’t watching me. Pretty soon I approached a woman walking. She must have heard me coming because she moved over to let me by. At the pace that I was jogging, it took some time for me to actually pass her. She must think I’m so slow. I eventually passed her, still fussing with the pack around my waist.
I was finishing my first lap. My shins hurt, I was starting to get a cramp, and I was still feeling out of sorts. My running app alerted me that I had completed my first mile. I knew I couldn’t stop. I hadn’t come this far to quit now.
I passed those same men, and the walker again. Then I saw an older gentleman approaching from the opposite direction. He was walking, his arms swinging rapidly. He looked determined. We exchanged smiles. But in that moment, I realized it wasn’t just smiles that we exchanged. It was a recognition that we were both out on this beautiful summer evening, exercising to the very best of our abilities. For him it meant walking, for me, jogging at the steady pace I was going. We didn’t need to be marathon runners to enjoy the benefits of the exercise we were doing. All that mattered is that we were outside, doing the best that we could and enjoying our time. I realized that’s what everyone was doing at the park that evening. The men sitting together in their folding chairs were enjoying each other’s company, the families at the playground were enjoying quality time with their children, and the other walkers were enjoying their evening strolls. They weren’t paying attention to me, no more than I was paying attention to them. It didn’t matter to them that I was wearing a runners pack, or that I may not have had perfect running form. And even if they did notice, who cares?! The realization freed me from my own insecurities and I instead focused on putting one foot in front of the other and finishing what I came there to do.
Lap 3 and lap 4 were much more enjoyable and after 30 minutes, I slowed to a walk to finish up my workout. Though my shins were aching, I was proud of myself for pushing through, physically and mentally. Next time I’ll go a little longer and further, but for that night, I was happy with my progress. I got back into my car, checking my CGM. 80, not too bad. As I pulled into my driveway, I started to feel the symptoms of a low. Sure enough, I tested my finger and saw the 52 flash on the screen.
Well, I guess the runner’s high came with a subsequent low. But I know that even a low won’t stop me the next time I decide to go for a run.