"When I first started running, I was so embarrassed I'd walk when cars passed me. I'd pretend I was looking at the flowers." - Joan Benoit Samuelson - American marathon runner and Olympic medalist (1984)
I've had a long lay off from running. Two years long. I have run a few times here and there over the course of the last two years but nothing has been consistent in my running schedule. Actually, I take that back - the one thing I HAVE been consistent about is being INconsistent.
My first attempt at starting over was just over 5 years ago. I was very out of shape, tired all the time, stressed at work. I got winded walking up the stairs at my office building. I couldn't bend over to tie my shoes. My sedentary lifestyle was turning me into an old lady at age 30. I knew I had to do something so my best friend and I started walking around my apartment complex every evening. I was exhausted after one round through the complex (one time around is 1/4 mile). Eventually, we added on extra laps, "ran" the short ends and then moved on to the long ends. My conditioning was so bad that I couldn't run 1/4 of a quarter-mile lap! That was a far cry from when I was living in my hometown and could literally run for hours.
The nightly circling of my apartment complex continued for a couple of months. I felt too intimidated to venture out on actual sidewalks where people could SEE me. I especially didn't want to do it during the day time when people had an even better view of me. No, the driveway in my apartment complex was just fine and comfortable enough for me, thank you very much. And then I realized what I was thinking. I was holding myself back because I wanted to be "comfortable". I wasn't giving myself the chance to expand and improve because I was so concerned about what people I didn't even know would think of this girl running down the sidewalk with her tummy and butt wobbling with every step. A couple of days later, I bought some proper running shoes (Mizuno Wave Riders) and during one of our evening "wogs" (part walk, part jog), I surprised my friend by deviating from our comfort zone and out onto the sidewalk. It was liberating and after a while, I didn't care who was watching me or what they were thinking. I was doing SOMETHING and that was better than nothing.
Once again, I am at a similar starting point - I am out of condition and I've put on weight. What IS very different is that I am no longer intimidated by what others think of me or embarrassed to have parts of my body other than my legs move when I run. I am not ashamed to run on the sidewalks, streets or trails of Austin because, even though I am an imperfect runner, I am still a runner. So, let the sun shine down on me as I run and to those who don't like the view of my jiggle, eat my dust.