Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How I Became a Runner

Let’s get something straight, here: I absolutely, positively, FIRMLY believe that my body is NOT meant to run. I am tall with a “bad back”. I have big hips that prefer to sway from side to side – a motion that I obviously have to fight during my workouts. My thighs rub together – always have, no matter how thin I’ve been (and that includes when I was sick in high school and carried a measly 115 pounds on my 5-foot-9 frame). I have water skis for feet. I’m just a mess.

And let’s face another reality: I was never very active, and when I was, it was reluctantly so. Sure, I played baseball as a kid/teen, but that’s because I liked the game and the social aspect (and because my parents made me). I also took swimming lessons, lifesaving, and even syncro – but that was because I liked the class atmosphere (and because my parents made me), and I only ever pushed myself as much as what was expected of me. I never had any expectations for myself.

Enter Ms. C, my grade nine Phys Ed teacher.

This was the first year that I ever actually liked physical education class, and it’s probably because it was an all-girls class (and also probably because 3-year-olds have better sporting skills that some of us did, so I didn’t stand out too badly as the non-athlete!). Ms. C made the activities so much fun – that is, of course, until we began discussing the year-end exam.

In the past, a grade nine exam would have consisted of showing your skills in several different areas: basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc. But Ms. C had other ideas. In lieu of the more traditional route, we were instead instructed to run or jog for 30 minutes straight – and that would be all. If we could do that, we would get 100% on our exam. Or if we ran for 15 minutes, we’d get 50%. Or, heck, you could not run at all, because the exam was only worth 5% of our final mark, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world to completely blow it. Or not show up.

That is, to most people. I, however, was not most people. I was an unhealthily obsessed over achiever. I graduated from high school 5th in my class with a 93% average. Overachievers like me do NOT get crappy marks on final exams. There was only one problem: I could not run. Not at all, not even a little bit.

I’m not sure if Ms. C actually thought that this running thing was the best option, or if she chose it for the aforementioned three-year-old sporting skills. In any case, Ms. C was fair. Knowing that this would be a challenge for some of us, she gave us plenty of class time to practice. She mapped out a 5 kilometre route for us near the school, and off we went.

Well, off THEY went. I could run for approximately 15 seconds before collapsing on the ground in an out-of-breath heap (seriously, that actually happened once). No big deal, I thought. I just need to run slower. So I tried that.


This was going to be harder than I thought! I whined and moaned, and spent our in-class time walking because I was too embarrassed to try to “train” with the rest of the girls. I would have to do it on my own time. And dang it, that was really going to cut into my studying, flute/piccolo/piano practicing, and Will and Grace watching. Crud.

But, I got to it. The first time I went out, I decided that I was NOT going to stop running unless I was going to fall over. So there I was, 14 years old, old-school tape deck in hand, really to roll. Er, run.

I think I lasted about 5 minutes.

But then something amazing happened. The next time I went out, I told myself that I JUST needed to run one more minute than “last time”. Instead, I ended up running for 15! Sure, some of it was “jogging on the spot”, but the point is, my feet never stopped moving. And then I thought, hey, maybe I can do that TWICE next time!

And I did!

And when exam time came, I kicked its sorry little butt! I jogged slowly ran slowly the entire 30 minutes and earned my 100% grade.

And then, I stopped running. Totally and completely, 100%. Even years later, when I joined a gym and got fit the first time, I never really incorporated running into my exercise regime. I still found it too hard.

But all that changed after I had my daughter a little over 3 years ago, and found myself with extra baby weight, marriage weight, and no gym membership. It was time to do something drastic! So I decided, once again – about 10 years later – to once again try out the whole running thing.

To be continued...


  1. I remember the horrible running in 7th grade...

  2. You tell such a great story, Brenna. I was the overachiever kid too. :)

  3. Hey I nominated you for some stuff on my blog because I think you're fantastic and secretly think we're besties. :)

  4. awww dang...looks like someone nominated you already....I did too! Love your blog

  5. I can relate alot to you...I was never an active kid too. I was the kid on the soccer field (my parents made me play) that picked the grass and ran AWAY from the ball! I was the kid that BEGGED my mom to let me be sick on track and field days. You are lucky to have had an inspiring teacher to get you on track. My grade 9 teacher basically ignored my presence and focused on the kids that liked to play sports. Looking forward to reading the rest of your story!