Running Like A Runner

Here’s the thing about running around the neighbourhood that no one wants to talk about. First of all, sidewalks are a pain. Literally. Second, your neighbours stare at you like you’re in a really long Scooby-Doo chase and they’re like, “What are you running from? What are you running from?” No, Gary! I’m not running from anything. It’s what I’m running to! It’s what I’m running to….because running is all about the destination! And in every case, the destination is my house. Because the fanny pack I’m wearing isn’t a picnic basket, and I don’t want to pass out on your front lawn because I’m out of shape. I just want to get home. Because I’m hungry. That’s where the food is. I just want to eat something.

How was that for a cold open wrestling promo? Me vs. Gary in a Sidewalk Chalk match.

Some of you may have seen me deliver that rant, via video, on another platform a few weeks ago. Somehow, I still had it memorized.

To clarify: I don’t know anyone named Gary. Creative liberties were taken.

I’ve been putting off this post for about a month, maybe more. I wasn’t comfortable writing it until now because I thought I’d be crossing three lanes of traffic too quickly and  didn’t want to disrespect a whole community of runners.

Let’s start from the beginning-ish.

Growing up, I played softball. Most kids played soccer in the summer. I had no interest in it. You know how frustrating soccer is when you’re a kid? You spend the whole game screaming, “Pass!” at someone who’s surrounded by every member of both teams because no one understands the concept of spacing.

And then everyone’s like, “Why didn’t you pass?”

At least with softball, I could be the pitcher, hold the ball more than anyone else, and have some control over the action. Does that make me selfish/greedy? No! It makes me smart. That, and I was one of two people on the team who could actually pitch, but regardless, I was smart. That’s the takeaway here.

I had a tournament one Saturday, a few towns over. I was about 12-years-old at the time. Our first game was at 9am.

To “wake us up”, my coach had us running around the outfield from right field, to left field, back to right field. It was the worst. I had no stamina. The grass was long and the morning dew was dew-ing it’s thing.

Nothing like preparing for a whole day of games by immediately wetting your socks and tiring yourself out.

Energy food on the bench that morning was a bucket of sunflower seeds and a 50 pack of timbits, or as the Americans reading this call them – donut holes. Shouldn’t they be called donut plugs, though?

Fast-forward a few years to when I was in Grade 9. I had gym class, first semester, first period. At first, it sounds great. Then you realize you’ll be carrying your sweaty self around with you all day, but only if you don’t choke on second-hand Axe body spray from everyone else in the change room, first.

2005 was a stupid time for body spray.

Anyway, the 12-minute run was a component in the curriculum. You do it at the beginning of the semester, and then again at the end.

At some point during “fitness week” I re-aggravated a pulled muscle in the back of my leg, which I first injured that summer playing softball.

So we get to the 12-minute run around the huge gym, and I’m hobbling. Add that to my lack of stamina, and I did 12 laps in 12 minutes, which wasn’t good.

At the end of the year, fully healed, I did 15 laps. Still not good. 

If you looked at me in Grade 9, you would’ve thought I was in shape. Looks are deceiving, though. I found that out every morning when we had to run two laps around the track outside to “warm up”. I wouldn’t run more than 200 metres before needing to walk.

Where did all these people learn how to run long distances? Why is this such a struggle for me? I play sports in the summer. I can beat out ground balls. I can steal bases. I can run home from third on wild pitches.

Why can’t I run 800 metres at 8am in the morning like everyone else?

Skip ahead to third-year university and my roommate is someone who does lifeguard competitions and goes running. We were so opposite, yet exactly the same. I tend to mesh with people like that.

At some point, I decided to join him on one of his runs on the 200m indoor track above the school gymnasium.

I didn’t know what “shin splints” were until we both complained about them. He was the better runner, even though I was faster when we raced.

He would pump out lap after lap, whereas I was just happy to get to five before walking for a bit, and then starting up again. I’d accompany him for runs for two years and I think the most I ever ran, before walking, was nine laps – 1.8km.

I had no sense of running goals back then. I didn’t have anything to officially calculate my distance, or steps, or calories. I had a chunky BlackBerry in my pocket, feeding music to earbuds that were slowly falling apart.

Looking back, I really don’t know what my motive was for being on that track. I didn’t like running, but I enjoyed being there. Does that make sense?

Over a month ago, I decided I wanted to get into running…again. It’s been six years since the shin splint days on the indoor track. So, why now?

This will sound cheesy, so I hope you brought crackers, but I was inspired by my blog friends, Becky and Cass.

Becky & Cass, injury attorneys, call 1-888-88..oh wait, that’s Cellino & Barnes. NEVER MIND. Back to the blog post.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve read their blog posts chronicling their respective running journeys (Is that a phrase? “Running journeys”?) and have been forced to ask myself why I’m not doing that, too.

So I reached out to them, blamed them for inspiring me – HOW DARE YOU? – and asked for advice and tips only a beginner could ask.

What do you bring with you? How do you carry it? How far do I run? How long do you run? Where do you run? What if I see a fox? What about deer?

They were very helpful, encouraging, and supportive. From their answers, I determined that I needed to instantly buy a fanny pack, as well as befriend Bambi.

I bought a fanny pack (running belt) on Amazon the next day, or as I like to call it – a running pouch. In my head, it makes me sound like a kangaroo. Have you seen how fast they are?

The pouch fits my phone, keys, and cards. I wear it under my shirt and rotate it around so it sits on my lower back. You can’t even tell it’s there. It’s not bulky and doesn’t shake when I’m running.

My intention was to run the path in the ravine near my house because it’s out of the way and no one would stare at me and watch. As a kid, I’d see runners on the sidewalk and always think they looked funny.

Like, why are you jogging on the spot as you wait to cross the street? Shouldn’t you be glad you could finally stop and take a breath? The whole concept seemed foreign to me. I didn’t get it.

It’s only fitting that I was made aware that ticks could be roaming around in the ravine and I should run on sidewalks around the neighbourhood, instead.

I was nervous about running so publicly around the neighbourhood. In my head, I envisioned everyone and their parakeet watching me from their upstairs window, as if I was being chased by an imaginary monster.

How will they know that I’m just out there running like a runner, rather than running like an idiot? Maybe if I look down at my watch a few times, they’ll know I’m a runner and that I just didn’t randomly start running in front of their house for no reason?

But it was either running around the neighbourhood, or not running at all. And dang it, I was inspired to run! (HOW DARE YOU?)

So, I quickly got over it. Now, running around the neighbourhood doesn’t bother me at all.

A few weeks ago I went out for my first run and immediately did everything wrong, except put on microfibre boxer briefs beforehand. Too personal? Sorry. I’m just trying to find a positive.

It was too hot outside. It was too soon after a big meal. I didn’t really stretch. My pace was way too fast out of the gate. I couldn’t find a way to breathe that didn’t make me sound like a whale. It was a disaster.

After four minutes, I needed a forklift to come pick me up.

My feet hurt. My calves hurt. My nose was plugged. My throat was sore. My ears hurt for some reason. My teeth were screaming at me. The watch on my wrist felt too tight. I always thought I liked the smell of freshly cut grass, but now it was trying to suffocate me.

I think I ran 700 metres – 300m short of 1km – before needing to walk and reassess my choice in blog friends. 

I did a loop around the block and walked the rest of the way home, trying not to throw up on someone’s lawn. I was close.

For my second run, I was smarter. I went in the morning, ate only a nectarine beforehand, and capitalized on the cooler conditions outside.

I knew exactly where I stopped running the first time and it was my goal to run further the second time. And I did! Only a few hundred metres more, but to me, that was progress.

My third run was last week and I went 1.45km in just over six minutes, before needing to walk for a bit. That’s more than double the distance of my first run, so I think I’m making progress.

Do these numbers sound pathetic? Probably. I love stats, but I’m trying not to get caught up in them. I’m just trying to go further than last time. Run #4 will be all about me trying to run beyond the fire hydrant I stopped at on Run #3.

Setting a specific “running schedule” is not in my DNA. I’m more of a, “Look at the weather app on my phone and see when it’s not raining, or isn’t too hot, and then ask myself if I’m up for it” kinda guy.

Don’t try this at home.

Also, I’ve been dealing with a stiff back lately which will be explained in another post.

But, I’m trying to run more often. It’s not trying to avoid it by any means.

I’m not really sure what my ultimate motivation for running is, other than it’s something I want to do. Also, I’d really like to prove to myself that I can do it. That 12-minute run still bothers me.

I guess “health benefits” can be a motivation. I’ve always said I hope to live until I’m 100, but I’ve never actually done anything to ensure that happens, other than the fact I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or anything of that nature. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to hit triple digits.

Hope is not a strategy. Running is. I think.

Since I got into this running mindset, I’ve told myself I should try and eat healthier too. I’ve been about the same weight for five years, and it’s exactly what I should weigh, but that doesn’t mean I’m “in shape”.

I’ve decided to cut out pop as much as I possibly can. It’s not like I drank it a lot to begin with, but now I’m seeing there’s no point to it. I drank pop twice in May and one time was because the fast-food restaurant I was at only offered pop or chocolate milk.

Full disclosure: I asked for white milk, which I’ll drink with most meals, if not water. I’ve never had chocolate milk before. Don’t see the purpose of it. You can yell at me in the comments.

Oh, and we don’t have to talk about how I mentioned “fast-food restaurant” right after saying I was trying to eat healthier. 

I don’t want to fast-forward to 25 years from now and wonder why I didn’t just run around the block. Life is a pyramid – if the base isn’t good, the top has no chance.

People have told me that running eventually becomes fun. I’m not at that stage yet. I’m still at the stage where it feels like there’s a rain cloud above my head.

Sweat. I’m talking about sweat. Lots of it. Too personal again? Hey, I can go back to taking about…never mind.

I’ve gained so much more respect for runners since starting this – whatever this is. You all make it look so easy. I was planning out 5km runs with Google Maps and thinking they would be so easy, I might have to do them twice.

Then I got out there and realized I was a fool.

I never realized just how long the streets around me are. I also didn’t realize how hard sidewalks are. Why can’t they be softer? Who can I send an email to about this?

Anyway, I’m proud of myself even if you think this is hokey. And I’m thankful to Becky and Cass for inspiring me – but really, HOW DARE YOU?

But really really – thanks.

A post this long begs for me to share a lesson at the end of it, so here it is.

You may close your mind off to many things, but don’t lock any of the doors because you never know when you’ll want to open one to see what’s inside. The best things are normally behind those doors.

And if you don’t like what you find, well, you can always run.

Are you a runner?

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About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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57 Responses to Running Like A Runner

  1. For someone like me, your stats sound amazing! The whole loop that I do is about 2.2km and there is no way I could do half of it before having to stop and walk. Like I go MAYBE 1/5 of the way and then walk. lol but I’ve actually stopped, my knees hurt too much after a run and I have my evening tutoring now so I can’t fit it in like I used to. Running at night is where it’s at! Cooler temps, I’ve actually seen two deer and a few bunnies, and it’s dark, so no one is really out looking at you. And if they are, you can’t see them cos it’s dark!

    But I do always wonder why people carry packs while running. I’m only gone for 20 mins so I guess I don’t need anything but I just take my phone and throw it into the side pocket of my leggings (FINALLY some feature of women’s clothing that works!) that’s legit all I take with me lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      The loop I do is about the same distance as yours and I feel like a big ball of hurt by the end. Two deer! They’re quite the running buddies lol.

      I think I’d feel weird if I didn’t bring anything with me. Like what if something happened and I needed to call someone or identify myself? I guess I’ve just watched too many documentaries of runners that go missing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha I have my phone which is connected to my Bluetooth earbuds, that’s it, so I could call if I needed it. But I don’t even need to take keys with me, our locks are electronic so we have a punch code.

        I feel pretty great by the end of my loop but my knees have really started to hurt lately. I googled shin splints and I think it might be the start of that haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Ooo fancy Bluetooth earbuds!

        Shin splints were not fun that’s for sure. I haven’t experienced them in about 5 years so the good news is they can go away (I just play a doctor on the internet).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! My nanny family gave them to me for Christmas my second year here! That was all I asked for and I was telling one of the kids that’s all I wanted and I knew my dad or brother would get me a pair, and they did, both of them, and my boss lol So I had to sit and narrow it down one by one and then give the others back without opening the boxes lol

        And oo that is good news! I should maybe see a doctor about it…I love running and I miss it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        To ease the pain I think my roommate told me to tilt my foot up and pull on my toes. I can’t remember if it worked but it sounds legit

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh that’s what I do to stretch out my muscles! I shall try it 😊 thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bex says:

    I too suffer shin splints from running and recently discovered pain in my heels which is most likely plantar fasciitis. Suffice to say, I’m not a runner. The majority of my cardio comes in the form of elliptical training at the gym. And running in the neighborhood is not the only exercise people will stare at you while doing. I get looks all the time whilst at the gym; mostly from men I might add, though never from parakeets….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      They say “no pain, no gain” but the saying should really be “no pain would be nice” haha. And yeah, I think some people don’t go to the gym just because they don’t want to be seen/judged/or made to feel uncomfortable by others. It’s a shame.

      Like

  3. Aaaannnnnddddd that’s why I choose to run at home, on my treadmill instead of out in public where peeps can stare in wonder and Gary will always ask “Running again? What’s the point?” By the way I do have a neighbor named Gary (coinkydink?). He’s annoying and is always out on his front lawn smoking a cigarette holding the garden hose with only a trickle coming out in a white t-shirt (that always fits him small) and shorts. I would, however shout at him when he’d say ‘whats the point.’ I would run past him, pat my tummy and point to his (big ass beer gut) and say “That’s why I run Gary!” He’d smile and yell “smart ass!” and I’d yell back “Fat ass!”
    So to keep from all the Gary’s of the world from commenting on my running, what the point was (because apparently only Gary’s don’t know why others run) and to stay away from Rocco and Jerry (my other neighbors German Shepard’s) I bought myself a treadmill. To run, at any speed or distance in the comfort of my own home. And if I pass out, I can do so on the soft carpet of the spare room, ahem, home gym.
    Also, to address the “Running Canadian” about donut holes, they are the holes that were once in the donut, because the use of the word “plug” conjures up all kinds of horrible images. Or as the peeps from Dunkin’ Donuts call them, Munchkins. And what do you mean you don’t get the point of chocolate milk? I swear Paul, it’s like talking to Gary! lmao

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Hahah no way you have a neighbour named Gary! That’s too funny. This validates my rant. Running on a treadmill and passing out a soft carpet feels nice. Just another reason why sidewalks need to be softer. I must say though that running outside isn’t as bad as I made it seem in my head. I don’t even notice some people now.

      Ah you’re right, donut plug has poor connotations attached. I guess, in my head, a hole is a thing of nothingness. Maybe they should call them Donut Bites or Nonuts. Haha I like my chocolate and milk to be two separate things.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I do have a neighbor named Gary, he lives right across from me. I’m sure running outside isn’t bad either, but my preference is to just run on my treadmill. You know to avoid nosey Gary, lol. And because I’m pretty I run like Elaine from Seinfeld dances. Awkward, no rhythm and trying not to fall flat on my face.
        As for your name of donut holes, I’ll go with Nonuts, that’s hilarious! Chocolate milk is the bomb, although I must admit I haven’t had it in years.

        Like

      • I nominated you for a blogger award Paul!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Paul says:

        Thank you!

        Like

  4. The Lit Biwi says:

    No, I feel like too much cardio is bad for you. Specially when you’re as ancient as I am, you know? I don’t want dead and dehydrated and flaky kneecaps. Ahah.

    I run maybe three days a week. Weights for the rest of the week.

    Also, today’s yoga day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Barron says:

    Good for you for getting out there! Don’t force yourself, and walk whenever your body or mind feel like it. I walk a lot of my route, and it makes the exercise more fun. I can actually look around and try to get pointers from others’ yards on how I can improve my own. I used to feel bad about walking, but I’ve gotten over it. 🙂

    I’m not sure if this applies to you and your route, but running on asphalt is easier on your body than running on the concrete sidewalk. Especially in the summer when the asphalt gets soft.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Thank you, I appreciate the encouragement and advice! Ideally I’d run in the road but I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. I’ve found a park that has a path that goes in a big circle which is asphalt, so I’m going to give that route a try next time.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kay says:

    I’m a runner. Running is great. Great views and having a great body in the end😁
    A good read👍🏼

    Liked by 2 people

  7. J♡ says:

    Congrats on the progress! I used to run track, but that was 17 years ago. At that point, running was fun for me and also a way to relieve any stress or anger. Maybe one day I can get back to that place. Kudos to you; keep up the great work! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Barb Knowles says:

    I love this. Before I get distracted by the running aspect of the post….”timbits”…really??? And btw, that autocorrected to tomboys 4 times 🙄 I’m starting to feel like Tim Horton is the Prime Minister of Canada.
    At any rate, I feel the same way you do about running, except for me it’s walking. For me, bowling is the sport I like to play. And watching golf, although I’m back out playing that as well. But forget walking the course. Because of a health problem, my doctor said I have to walk minimum of 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. I hate it. But I’m trying to go a little longer each way. I don’t use landmarks, because it turns out I’ve doubled my speed since I started. So I try to increase time. I’m still at the YES!! I DID ONE MORE MINUTE!! Stage.
    So I’m very impressed with your running, and your susceptibility of following advice in other blogs. I have to think of a topic that will inspire you…..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Authoress51 says:

    Great Post and keep doing things your way.
    I could never be a Runner. Having been born with a rare metabolic disorder, my mother erred on the side of caution and kept me away from physical activity while saying, I was “Special “. With my age and health now, running would be my last choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thank you! Was that hard for you growing up, always having to stay away from over-exerting yourself?

      Like

      • Authoress51 says:

        It was a bit embarrassing, actually. I was always last picked and last to come in in any sport. I stayed away from sports type activities and it wasn’t until early adulthood that I learned I was able and should exercise, per my doctor.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Frede says:

    Congratulations on becoming a runner! Your stats don’t matter… You run? You’re a real runner. And as a runner myself, I can confirm: running becomes fun. Although, ‘addictive’ might be a more appropriate adjective…

    Also, give chocolate milk a try (I personally drink chocolate soy milk); it’s an ideal post-run snack because it has an good balance of sugar and protein.

    I really look forward to reading more about your running journey! Are you on Strava yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thank you! I appreciate you welcoming me into the running…runnerhood? Or is it just running community? I’m still learning the terms lol. I hope it becomes fun!

      Finally, someone has given me a good reason to try chocolate milk other than, “It tastes like chocolate.”

      Haha I am not on Strava yet, mainly because I have no idea what it is. Off to Google I go…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Frede says:

        I think people mostly use ‘running community’ but I’m happy to start a petition to replace that with ‘runnerhood’! 😂

        Strava is like a Facebook for runners/athletes. You can record your runs and ‘like’ other people’s runs. That way, you don’t have to annoy your entire Facebook feed, ha! It’s also a nice way to keep track and see how far you’ve come. And I swear… I don’t work from Strava! 😜

        Like

  11. ~M says:

    I was forced to run while in the military, and although I was in the best shape of my life, I hated every minute of those runs. Needless to say, I haven’t had any motivation to run since. Good luck with your running journey. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ariel Lynn says:

    I am not a runner. I have never been a runner. I’ve never been “in shape” (except for a short time, but it wasn’t really “healthy”).

    Let me impart some wisdom on y’all young bloods:
    – Stretch. No, seriously… stretch before, during, & after. Stretch on days you don’t run. Seriously.
    – Drink. More. Water. Think you’re drinking enough? HAH, that’s nothing.
    – Don’t think you’ll be able to eat like this forever.

    Sincerely,
    Fast approaching middle-aged person. 😉 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dutch Lion says:

    Congrats on your new running program. It can be really fun! I used to run a lot more when I was younger but now it takes extra motivation. When I was 23, I can’t believe that I’d go out and run sprints for fun. For some reason I’d run 40 yard dashes, as if I was training for the NFL Combine. Oh brother, I’m so weird sometimes. Anyways, now I do it for fun and to stay in shape.

    Good luck and Godbless!
    Reid

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ely says:

    I AM SO MOTIVATED RIGHT NOW and this post is what i needed!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ely says:

    unmotivated* and NOW feelin motivated lol thank youuuuuuuuu and im so proud of ya!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ely says:

    I wanted to come back here and tell you that I RAN for the first time last night!!! 19 whole minutes of walking slash half jogging. 😂 I’m going back tonight! I HOPE YOU DIDNT STOP!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      YES! I’m so proud!! That’s pretty much how long I go jogging/walking for and then I need a forklift to bring me home because I’m half dead haha. Confession: I haven’t gone running in about 10 days because it’s too hot lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ely says:

        Lol 😂 well it’s hot here too! I went at 10:30 PM and it was perfect!!! Not the safest. But well. If I go missing…. aw never mind anyone who kidnaps my psycho ass will bring me back and pay someone to take me back and then turn themselves in as well. I’m good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        There’s a “they’ll send a helicopter to look for you” joke available here, but I won’t make it. 10:30 PM is serious commitment! I’m glued to a couch by then haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ely says:

        LOL 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Forward is Forward No Matter How Slow says:

    Haha your post made me laugh. The only option is to run around my neighborhood. At first I was super shy also felt super awkward. So I understand what you are referring in your post.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Mark Ward says:

    I wonder how many sports coaches have prevented folks from a life-long love of running. I had a similar experience of being dissuaded from running at school. https://evolvedinspired.com/best-heart-rate-for-endurance-and-speed/

    Like

  19. Ionlyneedassumptions says:

    I’ve started and stopped the couch to 5k a good few times now, I’m glad it’s not just me who hasn’t felt that running buzz straight away, i’m sure i’ll start again sometime soon, and my ankles will get used to it eventually, right? …right?!

    Liked by 1 person

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