Posted by: Andrea | September 15, 2008

The girl who can’t run

I’ve never been particularly good at sports.  When I was young I tried them all: softball, basketball, soccer.  I played t-ball for awhile and vaguely remember that my team was undefeated, though at six years old, that’s not too difficult.  I was pretty much uninterested in sports, I couldn’t really figure out the point of them.  That was probably because I never really excelled.  Anything that required hand-eye coordination was a total disaster with me on the team.  I spent the majority of my time playing softball alternating between making dirt mountains in the infield and daisy chains in the outfield.  I was so uninterested in the game that my coach recommended to my parents that they have me tested for a cognitive delay.  Yup, I was SO BAD the child psychiatrist thought I had a disability.  That’s got to be some sort of new record.

So yeah, I was pretty much universally bad at all sports that required me to hit or throw.  Or catch.  But I figured out that I could kick things and I could sprint from place to place.  I stuck with soccer and figured out that I was pretty good.  I was never the best on the team, but I always played a lot and enjoyed myself.  I specifically remember when I was moved up to play forward and started to be given the penalty shots on goal.  I’m guessing I remember that so clearly because I wasn’t doing much until then except running around in the rain a lot.  I played purely for the love of it, as opposed to say, trying to get better.  I wasn’t particularly bothered about making the varsity team in high school.  I enjoyed being on the lesser teams because we were still pretty awesome (I went to a powerhouse soccer high school) and I got to play a lot.  Of course I think a lot of that was also because I doubted my skill and didn’t have enough confidence to really battle it out in tryouts.  I was hesitant and nervous among the older, better girls.  Eventually I gave up playing for the school teams and just played recreationally.  Finally, I gave up altogether.

For the next ten years, I was convinced that I wasn’t athletic.  I wasn’t active.  I couldn’t do sporty things.  The biggest thing I could do?  Run.  It’s not that I thought I wasn’t good at it, I was convinced that I just couldn’t do it at all.  I honestly think I didn’t move from a walk to a run for a good eight years in a row.  I’d go to the gym and I’d do the stairclimber or sometimes the eliptical machine, but NEVER the treadmill.  I’d see people on the treadmill and I’d think, there are the real athletes.  I’m just a dork on a stairmaster.

Two years ago a friend of mine was training for the New York Marathon.  I found an advertisement for an ‘adventure run’ down in the Borders and thought he might be interested.  There were two lengths: 5k and 10k.  When I mentioned it to him he said, ok, I’ll do it.  If you do it too.

Um, no.  I said.  You don’t understand.  I don’t run.  I can’t.

Try it.  He said.

Ok, I said.  But I’m not promising anything…

The first day I stepped on the treadmill at the gym, I ran for 20 minutes.  TWENTY MINUTES!!!  I ran, without stopping, for twenty minutes.  Yes, it was barely faster than a walk and on the complete flat, but still.  I ran.  The girl who can’t run, ran.

I ended up doing that 5k adventure run down in the Borders.  I ran up hills, through rivers (and one big pond), along an adventure course including balance beams and tunnels, down a mountain biking trail (just head down it and don’t stop!) and didn’t finish last, which was all I wanted.  Most of all, I had FUN.  And I was running.

Last weekend I ran my third 10k here in Glasgow.  On this one we got to run across the Kingston Bridge, normally a freeway overpass.  On a normal day, no people allowed.  It has the best view of the River Clyde and the new ‘squinty bridge’ that was built a year or two ago.  A photojournalist at heart, I couldn’t allow this opportunity to go by without a picture.

Typical Glasgow day, of course.  Grey skies aplenty.

I still don’t know if I could call myself a ‘runner’ even though I go running 3-4 times a week.  All I know is that I can do something now in my spare time that I never EVER thought I could do.  Something that I used to imagine was part of one of the circles of hell, I hated it so much.  For anyone else like me, who not only doesn’t run but thinks they can’t, trust me.  You can do so much more than you think you can.  Give it a try.  You might be surprised.



  1. You are totally a runner! Welcome to the addiction. 😉
    Congrats on your 10k. That is a big leap.

  2. Well for my first one I was terrified! I still haven’t managed to best that time. I think the fear made me run faster!

  3. You are my hero. For reals. H-E-R-O.

  4. Well strap on your running shoes baby because the next race I do when I’m home, you’re coming with me!

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