One Minute

Just one minute. That’s all I had to do – run for one minute without stopping. “Easy,” I thought. “Anyone can run for one minute.”

It was June 2007 and I was on Day 1, Week 1 of the Couch to 5k Program. For those of you who started running when you were kids or are natural athletes, Couch to 5k is a training program that starts on your couch and gets you to run a 5k in about 9 weeks – perfect for people like me who dwell primarily on or about the couch as their natural habitat. The program makes no expectation of physical fitness. The first week, your 3 days of running consist of a 5 minute warm-up walk, then doing 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. That’s it.

One minute. Sixty seconds. 1/60 of an hour. “Nana {my grandmother} could run for a minute,” I thought.

I started off confidently. I turned my iPod on, ready to breeze down the street, stunning passerby with my flowing blonde hair and gazelle-like stride.

In reality, I made it 30 whole seconds before I looked down at my iPod wondering how a minute could possibly pass so slowly. Surely I had been running for 15 minutes and my iPod had just forgotten to remind me. No. That is not what happened. What happened was I was out of shape and couldn’t breathe. “No way I can do that seven more times,” I thought.

But I did.

It hurt and I almost threw up, but I did it. My grandmother definitely could have run farther than I did that Monday. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember the people walking their hyper dogs on the sidewalk, how sticky the air felt in the Maryland summer, and how much easier running looked for everyone else that ran by. I don’t recall anyone else looking like they were going to puke, that’s for sure. My face was beet red when I got home and I immediately ran to the refrigerator to stick my head in the cool air.

I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I stuck with the program and finished it. Running 3 miles was a miracle that wasn’t lost on me, and I was so proud of myself. I caught a glimpse of myself in an apartment window one time and realized I was less gazelle and more chimpanzee, but I didn’t care. I was a runner. I have been ever since, give or take the occasional stress fracture.

I’m sitting here two months into this flare-up with my back, and I realized yesterday that running is starting to feel like a weird dream I had once. On the one hand, I remember it so vividly, and on the other, I’m so confused by it and it kind of feels like it happened to someone else. Nothing about the dream/running currently makes sense. The idea of running a marathon suddenly seems completely ludicrous, which, to be fair, it absolutely is. Run 26.2 miles? Intentionally? How is this even possible? Why is this a thing? And most importantly, how do I do it? 

I know that one day, surgery or no surgery, I will run again. At this point, it will probably feel as hard as it did that very first time. There will be more marathons.

But first, there will be one minute.

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LEAVE A COMMENT: How did you start running? Do you remember your first run?

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