Three Seeds Under

searching for wholeness in a fractured world

(100 books) 7 – Born to Run

I read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run on a whim right after Christmas. The first day I opened it up, I read half of it in one go, then (buoyed up by that second-hand runner’s high) downloaded a Couch to 5k app, pulled on some sweats, and left the apartment before I could talk myself into doing something sane like making buttered noodles instead. Yeah, I don’t know what got into me either, except that I had suddenly become indignant at myself for denying my body what is, apparently, its God-given right to be able to run barefoot for miles on end.


Since I don’t trust my bare feet to the broken beer bottles and who knows what else on the pavement around here, I just pulled on some Chucks. I figured their thin soles would let me know if I landed on a heel. The first week, I hated it, but I still had the inner conviction from the book to force me to keep going. As added ammunition, I started texting workout updates to my sisters. Sibling rivalry is the best kind of rivalry. At first, I was so fantastically out of shape that even the 60-second intervals of running that week one asks for were impossible to manage. When I hit the end of week one and just started over again, deciding I would repeat that week as many times as it took to get it right.

During my second week of running, I hit upon a milestone when I realized I didn’t have to listen to music. The workout playlists I kept downloading just kept pissing me because they were all upbeat and energetic, while I was huffing for breath, barely able to manage running for 30 seconds at a time. I switched to audiobooks, and found myself enjoying the experience a whole lot more. Listening to Locke Lamora getting the crap beaten out of him helped to put my side stitch and aching chest in perspective. By the end of week two, I still couldn’t make it all the way through a Ct5k week 1 workout, but at least I was getting noticeably better.

Then came the first downpour of the new year, which incidentally coincided with my first missed workout. After that, I kept making excuses not to run. It’s amazing how easy it is to do that, even when you work from home. Before long, a week had passed without running, and the strangest thing happened.

Readers, I missed running.

To understand what a big deal this is, you have to realize that I grew up a bookish fat girl who felt far more at home in my head than in my body. Neither of my parents ever exercised. My sister played soccer in high school, but I figured she was just a genetic anomaly. Sure, every now and then I thought about running, mostly after reading classical mythology and imagining the goddess Artemis sprinting barefoot through the trees and casting disapproving glances back over her shoulder at me, but then, I also thought about living on a space station or flying dragon-back. Any ambitions I had of running dissolved the instance I put on my tennis shoes and tried huffing my way down our gravel road to the creek and back.

The few times my husband suggested that running might mirror the masochistic relationship I have with my writing, I pretty much laughed in his face. Sure, I loved walking. I enjoyed hiking and kayaking, whenever I could manage it. But running? Some people might be born to run, but I was probably born to eat goat cheese on fresh bread, while sipping Malbec and reading a good book. The fact that Christopher McDougall convinced me to try running says more about Born to Run is than anything I could manage here.

But after only two weeks of running, eight days without it was making me go a little bit crazy. So today, I started up again, telling myself that I had probably managed to backslide a bit, but it was okay, I’d keep repeating week one for a month if I had to. And for the first time since I downloaded that C25k app, I actually made it all the way through a week one workout!

I know it’s a little silly to feel so proud of finally being able to manage the easiest workout in the whole damned program. But I did, and I am. And when I decided to get my blog up and running again, there was no doubt at all which book I was going to pick.

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