As it’s the week I’ve been given the go-ahead to attempt running again, it’s only fitting for me to dive into my many failed attempts to become a runner. While I’ve been running steadily for the last 12 years or so, prior to that time I was as lazy as they come. I barely worked out let alone ran. Don’t get me wrong, I tried on a number of occasions to catch the running bug. It just turns out that I was immune to that bug…at least the first three times.
Yes, my failure to become a runner occurred thrice. So for those who say “third time’s the charm”, I say you are wrong. The fourth time is the charm, at least when it comes to running. Here is evidence of that fact in the form of failure three-fold:
Attempt #1: The High School Years
Spurred on by a desire to lose some chunkiness, I decided to join my brother for a run. It seemed an easy route to fitness. I ran laps in high school gym class so, really, how hard could it be? I lasted two runs. During this brief flirtation with running I learned two major lessons: 1) I hate running with men because they are inevitably faster and I feel compelled to try to keep up and 2) running on a flat track is no preparation for a suburb full of hills.
Attempt #2: The UBC Years
In an attempt to counteract many, many a late night pizza party and a diet that consisted mainly of Yves veggie dogs and tater tots (no lie), I gave running another whirl. Unsurprisingly, my diet and a couple of years of inactivity were neither a good nutritional nor cardiovascular foundation for running. Two additional factors worked against me: 1) UBC had even more hills and 2) these were the years of the Discman which, for those who recall, skipped constantly despite claims of ‘anti-skip’ technology. After a couple weeks of lacklustre effort, it was game over.
Attempt #3: The South Carolina Years
I went to grad school in South Carolina (don’t ask), where the cultural intolerance and general sucky-ness of the place led to a whole host of unhealthy behaviors like an overabundance of drinking and an ill-conceived desire to become a “social smoker”. To counteract these sins, I decided to hit the gym. Outdoor running was never an option in South Carolina where heat and humidity were my mortal enemies. Our university gym was actually quite impressive, boasting a full-size indoor track. For a while, I got in a really good rhythm of running on track and treadmill. Unfortunately, my gym visits were largely contingent on rides from a friend, since everything in South Carolina is built for drivers (seriously, it was a 40 minute walk from my house to the gym). When Heather stopped going to the gym, it was all too easy to give up, and give up I did.
Sometimes I am amazed that running eventually became such a major part of my life given so many early failures. If you are reading this and have tried running only to give up, all hope is not lost. Maybe it will never be your thing, but maybe you just need to give it one more try. You never know when you might turn the corner and find a true love-hate relationship with running.*
*And don’t let anyone try to tell you it will be anything other than a love-hate relationship. I promise you, you will always hate it a little bit.