In Haruki Murakami’s book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (recommended by a supportive sister after I declared my pledge to start running and conquer that half-marathon in Angkor Wat), he describes how you can distinguish a beginner runner from a veteran. The ones panting are beginners. I know it’s simple observation, but I think about it every time I run and start to pant, I’m reminded I’m a beginner.
Though running implies speed, becoming a runner takes time–like any other goal worth pursuing. I need to focus. I need to be consistent. Every day, I keep in mind a little goal–finish my 30-minute run (or walk during ‘rest days’). If there are deadlines, I tell myself I have to learn to be more focused on finishing whatever is due. Not log on to the time-suck that is Twitter or Facebook and get distracted. I can use that time to run. Finish my story earlier…so I have time to run. (I’m doing 30 minutes a day for now while following this 8-week beginning runner’s training program from Runner’s World.)
Of course, I hope that each day that I run will help me get closer to my goal of running a half-marathon this year. But even with such a lofty goal (for me anyway, it is), running is a humbling pursuit. It constantly reminds you of your limits, of how far you still have to go. But you keep doing it anyway. Because for one day or for 30 minutes, you get to go through it. You get to push yourself. Even with so much panting involved.
Here’s a wonderful passage from Mr. Murakami’s book (find a great review for it here):
“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life–and for me, for writing as well.“