|Becoming a Runner||Apr 30, ’07 10:36 AM
Becoming a Runner
By Ani Karina Sarabia de Leon
(reposted from “Amped” column I wrote some years back)
“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but wonder—are you a runner?”
If I were standing in line for groceries or at the atm today and someone asked me that question, I would be totally tickled with the flattery and would be floating on cloud nine for the next couple hours. Unfortunately and to my complete and utter devastation, queries like that are seldom directed towards me.
Aah don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about how I’m built. In fact people automatically assume that I am an athlete when they see me, as what I am is a sun-streaked, tan line-patterned, muscle-flaunting, generally perky kind of gal hauling around probably way more energy than what is considered normal. Indeed, I’m happy to be me, thank you very much.
But what is it about the runner’s mind and body that makes me sooo want to be recognized as one? I can’t say exactly why, but as a competitive triathlete I have secretly strived to achieve this kind of appearance, even though I realize that given my genetics this dream may actually prove futile. Heck, now that I get a chance to thoroughly think hard about it, ever since I was a kid and would visualize what an athlete should look like, I know I always imagined the limber body of a long distance runner. Without a doubt, it was also their mental tenacity that I was doubly attracted to. It’s just a remarkable combination to possess.
By some strange stroke of destiny and without my planning to do so, I have eventually made a serious career out of sports. Countless hours of training and racing have already gone through my entire system by now, and with it, a relatively more mature perspective on what an athlete truly is. And honestly—I still admire runners the most. So I guess I was right all along.
But now it is more real to me. Now more than ever do I have an even greater respect for those bloody hardcore maniacs who spend a good number of their waking hours clad in nothing more than bits and pieces of lycra and their worn down training shoes. Why? Simple. It’s just so damn hard. Among all the sports that I do I, personally still suffer most when I run.
This may not be the case for everybody, and if you are one of those gifted few who seem like prancing gazelles that fly with the wind, then lucky you, is all I can say, embrace that gift and do not throw it away.
But I know that I am like the vast majority who initially feel unnatural and awkward trying out this running business. And my message to that majority is—SO WHAT. Gazelles feel clumsy too when they are baby gazelles (sorry, didn’t know the exact word for that) learning how to walk. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged if you suspect that you’re taking longer than your mates to get to the speeds that you want. There is a lot of running to be had, it’s not going anywhere, and no one’s going to take it away from you. Hence, I suggest you do the wise thing and enjoy every moment of your journey into becoming a runner. One day you’ll wake up and realize that you already are one.
I still like to have that vision of what an athlete should be like in my mind, but this time she has my face on her. Cause you know what? Why should I apologize for not being long and skinny like those classic marathoning fixtures you see out there? I insist that I am defined by what I do, and not what I look like. And we do what we choose to do, whether we are conscious of it or not, and whether we like what we are doing or not.
I am a runner. Running is what I do, and I claim it as my birthright. Slow running, fast running, Ugly-ass running, beautiful running. Group running, solo running, short running, long running, easy running, gutsy as hell kind of running….it’s all mine now.
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.”
“Even if you fall flat on your face·at least you are moving forward.”
“Roger Bannister studied the four-minute mile the way Jonas Salk studied polio—with a view to eradicating.”
Jim Murray, LA Times
“No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”
Sir Roger Bannister
“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.”
Sir Roger Bannister
“Mind is everything: muscle–pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.”
“Hard things take time to do. Impossible things take a little longer.”