Fourteen years ago I set out determined to become a runner. I didn’t have the skill or even what I imagined to be the body shape for the sport, but I had what I didn’t know then (and I know now) was the most important asset: a runner’s heart. And I don’t mean I was good at cardio workouts.
I don’t remember much about that first run, but I know it hurt. My pace was probably slower than a taller woman’s power walk, and my goal was a mere 12 minutes. I figured by then, I would have completed a mile (clearly before the days of Google pedometer and mapmyrun.com!). I must have looked at my watch every 20 seconds. But I didn’t stop to walk.
Every time I went out for a run (though I’m not sure I can even call it that!), it got a little bit easier. I moved up to 20 minutes, then 30 and eventually settled on 45. Within a few months, a 45 minute run, 4-5 days a week became my source of energy, sanity, happiness and much more. Once I mastered a certain distance or time, I knew that I could do it again. I had developed a runner’s heart.
I’ve made best friends out of running partners and running partners out of best friends. I’ve run in every kind of weather and every kind of mood. In the solitude of a run, I’ve reviewed outlines for exams, sorted out hardships and created almost every idea I’ve ever developed for work or for my life (including this blog). Most of all, I’ve been soothed by the hypnotic rhythm of footsteps on pavement.
This week I began coaching my 8-yr.-old daughter and 32 of her school mates in a running club. By the end of the year, most of them will be able to run a 5k. In addition to running, they’re learning stretching, warm ups and conditioning. Most importantly, they’re gaining a runner’s heart. Even if these girls never try to run again until they’re adults, they will know that they can do it. Because they did.
And for adults who want to learn to run–and I’m a firm believer that almost anybody can, Couch to 5k is the best program out there.