Thursday, 21 June 2018

"Do YOU run?!"

A fellow running blogger and friend recently wrote an Instagram post about how someone told him that he didn't look like a runner, and how that made him feel. And while I've never had those exact words spoken to me, I've certainly also had my "you don't look like a runner"-moment.

I was about 18 or 19, passionate, as always, about healthy living, but also painfully aware of the fact that I was completely different than everybody else. Long story, but just know that I was just as uber-nerdy then as I still am today. Which, at the age of 18, felt a lot more awkward than it does at 41. (Thank goodness.) 


I don't have a picture of me running when I was 18, but here's one taken at my first ever 5K fun run at age 8 (I'm in the dark blue tracksuit in the middle, front). I came second that day, winning a Barbie doll as a prize, and that's where it all began. Running has always made me happy!

So there I was, self-consciously different at 18, grocery shopping with my mom. Then, just as we reached the pay point to pay for our groceries, I spotted the latest copy of Runner's World magazine and, of course, had to grab one to devour at home. But as I placed it in front of the cashier to reach for my purse, this shy girl's worst nightmare started to unfold.

With her face crumpled into a half-shocked, half-horrified frown, as if she'd just smelled a rotten egg, the cashier gave me a once-over before exclaiming: "Do YOU run?!". And, instead of putting her in her place right there, as I should have, I shyly smiled and shrugged, my face red with embarrassment.

Looking back, my 41-year-old self would have handled the situation completely differently. I would have replied with a cheery: "Of course! Don't you?! You really should try it - it will change your life!", and never given it another thought. But the 18-year-old me did exactly the opposite. I became even more self-conscious, allowing her words to steal a big chunk of the joy that I derived from running at that stage. Plus it made me super hesitant to join a local running club - something that I eventually only did a whole ten years later.


My dearest Kimberley Harriers running club friends. If only I'd discovered them sooner...!

So what has changed? Yes, I've discovered (and love!) the liberty that comes with growing older. But I've also learnt that I want what running has to offer more than I'll ever care about what any stranger thinks. So what if I run like a girl/huff like a steam engine/awkwardly swing my arms sideways like a duck? I still reap the same physical, mental and emotional benefits from running as everybody else. 

So if you, too, have had a "you don't look like a runner"-moment and it's getting you down, do what I should have done 20 years ago: Shrug it off and don't waste another minute of your life pondering about it. Lace up, head out and do what you love doing with your head held high! I'll be sure to give you a high five as I awkwardly huff and swing my arms sideways when we run past each other. 

    

4 comments:

  1. Hi Saar, ek sou nooit kon raai hoe jy daaityd gevoel het nie. Mens weet mos maar net van jou eie ongemak en almal rondom jou lyk so "normaal". Ek sukkel steeds om vrede te maak met eie vorm (afwesigheid daarvan). Miskien help die winkende 40s? Dankie vir die inspirasie wat jy is!! Xxxxx

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    1. Ek beleef die veertigs as heerlik bevrydend, Saar. Almal seg altyd "oeee, as hulle tog net weer 18 kan wees...!" Maar my hart se dan soos een man: Nee, dankie! Al daai hard-geleerde lesse wil ek verseker nie weer leer nie. Dankbaar en tevrede oor die hier en nou. xxxxxx

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  2. I was doing a 5 mile Fun Run for Charity (Cancer Research) when a 'friend' shouted "Call thissen a runner? Tha ought to be in't big 'un" - meaning the Pennine Marathon that took place from the same venue on the same day.
    I must have taken it to heart for the following year I did in fact run the big 'un and finished 1st MV55 in 3 hours 30 mins. It launched a running career that has lasted over 30 years, and still going strong.

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    1. Fantastic!! Just imagine if we all did a bit more positive encouragement...!

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