Every so many years, I try running. Since my mid-20s, I’ve tried to be a runner THREE times.
I love the idea of being a runner. People talk of having dreams of flying. I dream of running. Fast. Of gliding, foot fall after foot fall, wind in my hair due to my speed.
The latest attempt at becoming a runner was this summer, when I signed up for a local 5k and began using an app to train for it. I paid the fee, and marked the day of the race in my calendar.
Well, this was my last. I made it through a mere FOUR training sessions before I couldn’t continue.
This is a letter to myself, to read every New Year’s Eve, to remind me: do not make running part of your New Year’s Resolutions. Seriously.
Dear future self:
I write this, with the laptop balanced on two knees covered in medicated Chinese herbal pain patches above and below the patella, the spicy scent of herbs wafting up on a wave of camphor and menthol. I groan when I sit on the floor. I get up off the floor weird and slow. My knee pain–diagnosed by Google as runner’s knee–also involves our hip. All protesting the fact that we have tried for a third time to be a runner.
My knees want to give future you a message: Girl, No. Stop trying to be a runner. This was your third strike, and you’re out.
In your 20s, you made it through training and an actual 5k before your right knee said “let’s rethink this.” Yoga therapy followed. First strike.
A few years later, again, through what…amnesia? we tried again. And again, the knees and back said…UM, NO. Not now either Still no. Second strike.
No matter that we’ve been mocked for our running on multiple continents. Remember in India, the cute girl in a pink and yellow salwaar, her little sister in tow, laughing with an “Auntie doesn’t run well, does she?.” Sigh.
So here we are. No longer in our 20s and, sweet future self, no matter how much you love Runners magazine, this is not a good idea.
It is commendable that we tried multiple times to improve ourselves in an area that challenged us, that was out of our comfort zone. But the third strike means… NO. No more.Think “power walking” and “low impact cardiovascular workouts.” NOT running.
Recently someone mocked me for mentioning the traditional Ayurvedic and TCM models of body types, saying it wasn’t scientific. But if we’re truly all equal, then shouldn’t I be able to be a runner with enough persistence?
There are absolutely body types. After one of Michael Phelps’ many medal wins, they did a breakdown of why his body shape made him such a great swimmer–yeah, practice and other habits are necessary but his body shape contributes, helps make it all possible.
I am not designed to be a runner, and no amount of personal training or visualization or whatever can make my body into something that easily and effortlessly runs. I am an Earth and Water body type, a Pitta/Kapha type, a grounded earth-bound body that can get in a hurry but does best with endurance, moderate pace and strength.
In taekwondo, jumping jacks still push me has hard and far as I can. They were the reason I started my third attempt at being a runner–to actually make it through 350 jumping jacks with good form. (Please, future self, tell me in our future that they are either 1. Easier or 2. We have a bribable teacher.)
Future self, we are not built to be a runner, but remember:
Respect our gifts. Don’t wish for someone else’s. While sitting with legs propped up, coated in Chinese herbal plasters and Mahanarayan oil, I’ve pondered this whole running thing. (And done a fair bit of beating myself up about hurting my knees through such a stupid move…really, I had to be told a third time not to do it? sigh.)
Embrace your type, and play it to your advantage. Groundedness has gifts, too.
Stop looking at Runner’s magazine and read Qi Journal instead. Stop envying race bibs and shirts. Stop being impressed with those light gazelles who chirp Hi! as they smoothly glide by, barely out of breath as they run uphill. ‘Cause I don’t think our body will even consider a fourth try at being a runner. That was our third strike, and we’re out of the running game for good.
And in Taekwondo, when they ask if I’d like to run fliers with them, I’ll ask…how about I power walk those for you?