While thinking about New Year’s goals, I thought a lot about the utility of goal setting in general (this NYT article was interesting on that front). Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how to set a goal without beating yourself up too much along the way.
One thing I reasoned is you’re less likely to be hard on yourself if you remain aware of how far you’ve come. Which is why today bring you the story of my very humble running beginnings.
When I started this blog, I was already really into running and on my way to becoming a semi-confident runner. I’d run a ten-mile race and a half marathon. Hardly an illustrious athletic history, but at least a history.
Let me state a few facts (obvious to those who know me IRL): I was not on the track team. I did not play team sports. (I WORK ALONE. Just kidding.)
Here is the story of my first run:
Before I got into running, I got really into hiking. While living in DC I purchased an awesome booked called “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Washington.” On one such a hike with my friends Ali and Caroline, Ali decided the trail we were on was “too easy.”
Instead of picking a different hike, she decided we should “off-road it.” Ali is what the French call an out-of-the-box thinker. I don’t remember agreeing to this. Breaking the rules is not exactly Caroline’s forte either, but Ali is a very convincing leader. She set out through trees and bushes up a hill toward a more challenging afternoon.
Ali made it up the first hill gracefully. I followed behind her with my SLR hanging from my neck. It was 2008 and I was a very cool pre-Instagram hipster. I bent forward and the swinging camera got caught in a thorny bush. In an effort to de-tangle my camera I flipped my head upside down to get a better angle. Then my hair got trapped in the bush.
So if you can imagine this, now I am forced sideways on a steep incline, being held upright largely by a bush that is holding on to my hair at a 90 degree angle. Caroline tried to help me from behind and Ali from the top of the hill. Somehow my shirt got caught on a higher branch and the thorns of the bush scratched up my now exposed stomach.
Through laughter-induced tears, the three of us unleashed me from this man-eating bush. I was covered in scrapes. I still don’t totally know how that happened.
Leaving the park later that day, I had regained my composure and sort of out of nowhere said to Caroline and Ali: “How far are we from that tree over there? Like .25 mile?” They agreed. I followed up, “I bet I could run to it.” They were both unimpressed by this offer, but they are good friends so they feigned support.
Caroline held my giant camera and I ran to the tree. “That was pretty cool”, I proclaimed, gasping for air. They laughed and reminded me they go on 6 mile runs a few times a week.
Not long after that, I signed up for my first race. The Broad Street Ten Miler, in Philly. It’s fair to wonder why someone would go from a quarter mile to ten miles in one swoop. I wonder that too. But that’s what I did. And that’s how I got into running.
How did you start running(…if you run)?