In case it isn't already obvious at this point, I am not, and never have been, a runner. Although I know and support many runners in their chosen hobby, the whole idea of running for long periods simply for the sake of doing it has never made sense to me. In fact, I have always given my friends and family members a skeptical look after they complete a run and insist they "feel so good..." between gasping breaths as they lie in a sweaty heap on the ground. In response to such remarks I have only been able to conclude runners are either lying about their experience or they have a screw loose. Despite that dominant perspective, there has always been a part of me that also realizes I wouldn't have the opportunity to understand "the runner's perspective" unless I tried jogging myself. As a result, I decided I would make "going for a jog" a part of my "I have never..." journey. Tonight, the perfect evening weather and a last minute change to my "I have never..." schedule provided the perfect opportunity to experience jogging for the first time. In turn, I put on some semi-appropriate running gear and hit the streets.
My route determined, I geared up and exited my front door a little after 7:00 pm tonight. The summer sun had already started its slow descent toward the horizon, which presented decreasing temperatures I knew would help me make it through my jogging trip. I walked through my front lawn and down to the sidewalk, turning to face the direction of my route's first leg. "This is going to suck," I said staring at the long stretch of grey concrete before me. I paused for a brief moment before taking a deep breath and setting my legs into motion. I steeled myself knowing there was no turning back. I started this thing, and nothing was going to stop me from finishing it.
The first quarter of a mile I focused intently on my breathing. My chest rose and fell as I forced air deep into my lungs between the sounds of my feet hitting the pavement. Still feeling relatively relaxed and energized, I was astounded I had not yet broken into a heavy sweat and labored breathing. Of course, I knew that would change with time, but I the fact I was not already winded gave me inspiration to press on. Rounding the first big curve in my run, I looked up from the pavement and took in the scenes of the city around me. Cars rushed up and down the street beside me as I pushed on, dodging between the people and kids dotting the sidewalk.
Closing in on a half of a mile, I reminded myself each step I took put me that much closer to my objective. Although still maintaining relatively high spirits, I felt my body starting to fight my constant state of motion. Over a course of a few minutes my breathing became more intense and my shins starting to develop a slight aching in their sides. The pain was setting in, and I had yet to reach anywhere near the half way point of my trip. Continuing on, each step I took seemed to amplify my state of fatigue. With the first mile of my jog in reach my breathing started to become difficult and my legs started burning. I knew I had to keep going, but my body was telling me to quit.
|I believe it's jogging or yogging... It might be a soft "j."|
Undeterred by the signals my body was throwing off, I kept my feet moving as fast as I could. I felt my pace slowing, but I was still jogging and that was all that mattered to me. Finally crossing my first mile, I slowed down to a walk to catch my breath. Sweat rolled down my face as I moved my hand to put pressure on the stabbing pain starting to creep into my ribs. Panting like a dog in the throws of August, I rounded the next corner on my route and tilted my head toward the sky. A slight grunt escaped my mouth before I forced my legs back into a jogging motion. I immediately noticed my body felt more unsynchronized than it did before as I accelerated back to my jogging speed. Entering the longest leg of my run, I wondered if I would be able to make it the full length of the planned route.
I kept focused and pressed on knowing I was the only one responsible for setting my sights so high. My feet feeling heavy with each new step, I refocused and let my stubborn side force out any thoughts of quitting. I was going to complete the task I intended to complete. After all, I was after the real experience, not some modified, half-hearted attempt at jogging. With resolve to fulfill my objective, I started trying to find ways to distract myself from the discomfort I felt in my legs, throat, and chest. For a brief period I was able to align my thoughts and center on the beautiful lakeside foliage appearing on my right. Then, suddenly, the pain in my ribs intensified, creating a sharp pain with each breath I took. I once again slowed to a walk as my body seemed incapable of obtaining the air it needed.
|Falling apart with a few blocks left|
I knew I was too close to my destination to stay at my slowed pace for long. Waiting for some cars to pass so I could cross the road, I committed to making the rest of my journey at a running pace. I could see the finish. I just needed to get myself there. Exhaustion now gripping me, I quickened my pace and focused on my objective. The passing time seemed to blur into a moment as I worked through my pain and continued moving my feet. I crossed the last street before my block uninterrupted and climbed the small hill at the start of my block. Rounding the last corner of my jog, I saw my house come into view just as the pain in my chest once again became unbearable. I knew I couldn't slow down again, so I forced my way through the pain and climbed my front lawn.
Relieved, I threw open the front door and slumped onto the nearest flat surface. Immediately taking stock of my emotions, I realized my earlier perspectives on running seemed to fit my current state of mind. I didn't "feel good." I didn't feel revitalized or free of the day's stress. I was tired, sweaty, and sore, and I desired none of them. Sure, there was a slight sense of accomplishment that came with completing my task, but I looked at the event from a cost-benefit point of view. Were the physical effects of my jogging worth its apparent health benefits? Considering my condition after the journey, my answer was an easy "no."
|Done... Just. Done.|
Now, I realize I can't get the most out of jogging from one experience. I realize that with time and effort "going for a jog" can become an easier and much more enjoyable affair. That stated, my first experience with jogging has only provided me one major takeaway... leave the running to the runners. I don't know if or when I will ever "go for a jog" again. While I still intend to make a 5k a part of my "I have never..." journey, I just can't see myself hitting the streets again without a reason to run. That stated, I'm open to anyone providing me a way to make the experience more enjoyable, but until then I will stick with my perspective that I am not, and never have been, a runner.