I am lazy. I love TV. I love food. I love beer. But I also love comfortably fitting into my clothes and being able to walk uphill without having an asthma attack.
So last summer, I bribed myself to go on a run with the promise of ice cream afterward. And it stuck. Running allowed me to enjoy beer, pizza, and ice cream with much less guilt. It also made me feel strong, happy, and productive. But when winter hit and we moved from Rochester to Minneapolis and couldn’t afford a new gym membership, I took up being a couch potato again. In Minnesota, it’s a good idea to pudge up over the winter, anyway, right? Then, in February, when I had to jump to get into my pants and lie down to button them, I decided it was time to clean the cat toys out of my running shoes and hit the pavement. I did 1-minute run, 2-minute walk intervals on day 1 and went 3 miles. My lungs hurt. My legs hurt. I was drenched in sweat. And it felt amazing.
bragged about documented this moment by sending this selfie to my husband, who was traveling at the time. (This was a big deal. I don’t normally take selfies.)
Over the next 3 months, I went from run-walking 3 miles 3 times a week to running 20+ miles over 4 or 5 days each week. My longest run was just over 8.5 miles and was one of the few times I actually experienced a “runner’s high” and felt like I could keep going forever.
But it had only been a few months, and I still didn’t feel like I deserved to say those magical words: “I am a runner.”
Then, something happened. I had a run that felt off. Then another. Then I ran one block, limped home, and took a few days off. After a forced 4-mile run/walk/limp/hobble/stumble, I knew there was something seriously wrong. I saw a family practice doctor, who referred me to a sports medicine physician. On June 20, I received a diagnosis: stress fracture of the inferior pubic ramus, an injury that affects almost uniquely female runners. More on the journey from injury to recognition (to denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance) to diagnosis later.
I never felt worthy to say, “I am a runner.” But I can now say with confidence, “I was a runner.” And I will be again! Eventually.