About 10 years ago, I laced up a pair of old tennis shoes, slapped on a pair of shorts, and walked out of my dorm, resolving that I would attempt to run just one mile. Within one minute, I was racing over the dark Chicago pavement. Within five minutes, I gave up. That day, I was convinced: I was not a runner, nor would I ever be.
Two years later, however, I was convinced by a friend to join her on a quarter-mile run. (I only consented, knowing the destination was Wendy's, where I could indulge in a Frosty.) And two years after that, having moved to New York City, I decided to infuse my pizza-and-ramen diet with a little healthy jogging, just three circles around Tompkins Square Park. Eventually, those three circles turned into four and six, and, once eight loops around a tiny park proved to be boring, I moved my running operations to the glorious and spacious West Side Highway, where I jog on a nearly daily basis.
Since I can hardly break a nine-minute pace, I still have trouble identifying myself as a runner, as much as I would love to — after all, the running community is made up of people with not only admirable dedication and overwhelming kindness, but also killer calves. (I've got the former nailed... the other two? Still working on 'em.) But, having completed two half marathons, I no longer roll my eyes while watching a group of people just running, like I did a decade ago.
Now that I'm one of those people, I understand. And I've come to understand — while sweating through heat, rain, and snow just to get a run in — that there's a lot more to learn about running than just how to train. Like...
This Is the Worst Feeling In the World
It's difficult to sprint out of bed knowing sprints are in your very near future.
This Is the Best Feeling In the World
But knowing you're at least one mile more productive than the still-sleeping rest of the world? Worth it.
Squats Are a Necessary Evil
Oh, you say you wanted to be able to bend your knees again one day without collapsing, powerless on the ground? Sorry.
These Are Just Evil
I'll tell you anything! Everything! Just keep the foam roller away!
Everything Is Easier After Three Miles
Just hang in there 30 short minutes, and you'll be ready to go to anywhere.
Pain Is Fashion
This season's collection brought to you by KT.
Which Leads to Fashion Pains
Between these and bikini tan lines, good luck wearing a dress again ever.
These Changed Your Life
Touchscreen gloves, especially valuable for whenever your iPhone shuffles to the Les Misérables soundtrack. Back to Britney! Back to Britney!
Dogs Are Wonderful Motivators
An adorable distraction, until...
Dog Leashes Are Terrible Terminators
Death to all leash extenders.
Bikers Are the Montagues to Runners' Capulets
Wherefore art they? In whatever lane they want to be, yelling at you. We all live in the same place, so can we just get along?
No One in IT Can Help You With Your IT Band
But it does burn as much as Nick Burns' burns.
This Is How You Feel Going Downhill
On top of the world, ma!
This Is How You Feel Realizing Every Downhill Comes With an Uphill
How far the mighty have fallen.
This Is Not the Worst Part About Running In the Heat
And, yes, water weight does tip the scales at the laundromat. That will be an extra five dollars for being disgusting, please!
Even more disgusting? Realizing you've sweat enough to completely destroy your headphones. A drop in the toilet didn't even do them as much damage.
This Is Not the Worst Part About Running In the Cold
Hey, even penguins have trouble doing the same thing.
Does it seem like people are looking at you weird after your outdoor winter run? They are.
Actually, This Is. Of Everything
One word: Band-Aids.
This Is What You Think You'll Want to Do At the End Of Your First Big Race
And you'll schedule two brunches and three happy hours accordingly.
This Is What You'll Really Do At the End Of Your First Big Race
And experience the happiest of hours, completely unconscious.
22. A Good Running Jacket Will Wipe Away Your Winter Blues
Well, maybe you should just stick to a simple Brooks.
23. But Not As Much As The First 60-Degree Day of the Year
And you don't even mind that too many layers leave you burning like a (spring) fever. (After a long winter, does anyone remember how to dress for warm weather?)
24. Everyone Around You Is More Attractive Than You
Eat your heart out, OK Cupid.
25. Hydrating While Running Is Important
Creativity, clearly, is a bonus.
26. Hydrating While Running Is Impossible
Nothing hurts your time quite like accidentally waterboarding yourself.
27. Shit Happens
Dog, horse, bird, please god tell me that's not human — you never know what you're gonna get, as Forrest would say.
28. But When In Doubt, Consult Kelly
29. This Is How You Feel 10 Minutes After Your First Race
Sore calves, sweaty clothes, plummeting body temperature... I'm never doing that again.
30. This Is How You Feel 10 Hours After Your First Race
AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN WHEN DO I SIGN UP FOR MARATHON?
31. Now Matter How Good You Feel On Your Run...
...there will always be a woman pushing a stroller that's running faster than you. But it's easier to not feel defeated when you realize they come courtesy of a dose of much-needed inspiration.
32. You'll Walk Away From Each Run With More Confidence
33. No Matter How Ridiculous You Look
Hey, own it. You do you.
34. You'll Also Walk Away From Each Run With More Chafing Scars
Ah, Aquaphor, nectar of the gods.
35. All Your Friends Will Ask You Why You Put Up With It
Especially after you continually ditch Friday nights to prepare for training runs.
And This Is Precisely Why
Because runners are some of the most charitable, loyal, and admirable athletes on earth. The race to become one is a marathon, but training to become a fit and good human being is more than worth it.
Images: Someecards; Rob/Fotolia; Africa Studio/Fotolia; Romaset/Fotolia; SNL/NBC; utope.eu; Kelly Roberts/Twitter;