I am a runner. I wasn’t born a runner. I am not a natural runner. I certainly didn’t start young and develop into a fast or superior runner. Before the age of 40, I had never thought about running in any capacity, outside of the possibility of seeing a bear. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have always been in pretty good shape and did other things to stay healthy. I have a natural love of vegetables and fruits and most things considered healthy, along with a natural dislike of sweets and most junk food. I also practice yoga on and off for the last 15 years or so. I loved to go for long after-dinner walks around the neighborhood. Running wasn’t necessary and it sure wasn’t something I sought to do.
Then, I turned 40. I made a list of things I planned to try during that year. I added to that list as I ventured to new cities, flew alone to meet up with friends in Vegas, and finished writing my first novel. Spring of that year, a few months after my birthday, I got a treadmill with the intent of walking a few miles each day in the comfort of my own home. After a week or so, I decided to see if I could run for one minute. It was tough. It hurt and it didn’t feel natural for my legs. I walked a few minutes and tried again. I kept upping my running minutes each day. Before I knew it, I was running 15 and 20 minutes straight. Once I ran for 30 minutes without stopping, I decided to head outside and give it a try. I just wanted to see if I could go further and reach something new, something different.
Running outside proved to be a challenge because of pacing, hills, and a different feel on my feet and legs. I invested in better shoes, slowed down, and kept trying. Within a few weeks, I could run over two miles non-stop. That was two years ago. I recently just completed my first half marathon (13.1 miles). I did it in the timeframe I wanted to, without any pain or discomfort, and literally a smile across my face the whole time.
Becoming a runner ended up being the biggest accomplishment on my 40 list. But, more importantly, it taught me more than I expected about life and about myself. I learned that there was a stronger person inside of me than I ever knew. I learned that regardless of how healthy or fit I thought I was, there was room for improvement. As someone who was teased for not being athletic growing up, I learned I was once I decided to really try to be.
Long runs alone in the morning taught me to actually watch the sunrise and appreciate how it felt on my face, to appreciate a gentle drizzle when I was overheated, and running against the wind might be harder, but I would still get there. Those alone runs gave me the same solitude and sense of inner peace as yoga and meditation. It gave me focus, helped me plan my day, and reflect on the past, future, and still be in the moment.
Runs with friends taught me to follow their lead and gait when they were ahead of me. Group runs taught me there is always someone in front of me and behind me and we are all going this this life at our own pace. I learned to appreciate when a friend would run back to be sure I was ok and to stick with me. I learned to be that person when a friend needed me to be. I learned perseverance when long runs got longer and patience when an injury sidelined me. Most importantly, I learned I could actually do just about anything I decided to throw my heart into and it takes both physical and mental commitment to make it happen, whatever it might be.
Karri L. Moser is a freelance writer who has worked as both a newspaper and radio news reporter. She has freelanced for magazines, marketing firms, web sites, and various online publications. Karri is also a fiction writer who has completed one novel and hopes to dive into fiction full-time one day.
Karri lives in Maine with her husband, two teens, two dogs, a cat, and flock of hens. When Karri isn’t writing, she loves to paint, garden, explore the coast and lighthouses, and run.