In the Beginning: I suck at running!

People ask me all the time, “How did you get started running?” I just tell them like I’m telling you — I’ve started running probably a thousand times.  The better question is, “How did you stick with it?”

Let’s back up a little and I’ll tell you my story.

I’ve always thought running was the greatest sport.

  • You don’t need to buy expensive equipment
  • You don’t need to find a team of people to do it with
  • You don’t need to rent gym space or find an empty court
  • You won’t get rained out
  • You don’t have to drive somewhere to do it
  • You don’t have to wait for sunrise
  • You don’t have to be young
  • You don’t have to be athletic

I always wanted to be a runner. It seemed like such a contemplative activity–getting lost in your own thoughts and escaping from life for a while. Not to mention, those Olympic track women have fabulous bods!

But, what I knew about running was just that you tied up your tennies and went out and ran. Countless times I did that, only to be gasping after a few blocks, legs cramping up, my mind telling me I suck at running. With a bit of sadness, I told myself and others, “I guess I’m just not a runner.” It was pretty discouraging from someone who is fortunate enough to pick up most any sport pretty easily.

But, it was a chance meeting in October 2011 that challenged what I thought I knew about limits. We are splitting our time between rainy Seattle, where I was born and raised, and sunny Mesquite, NV. I instantly bonded with the desert landscape and love the intimacy of the small town, so much that I got involved in Friends of Gold Butte, which is working to preserve a most beautiful portion of the desert I love to play in.

One day, on our of the outings with Friends of Gold Butte, I met a man who was a runner. In addition to talking about the desert, we had some brief conversations about running. But, as the group decided to break for lunch, he decided he needed to get home, said goodbye, and ran off down the road. Mind you, home was at least 10 miles away! Uh…what?

We stayed in touch a little while my husband and I returned to Seattle for holidays. And, in January when I got back, I told him my running woes and frustrations. That’s when he, an accomplished ultra-runner, told me how to run. “Don’t start off going all out. Start by running 2 minutes and walking 3. Then run 3 minutes and walk 2. Progress to 4:1 and 5:1. I do this in my long distance races.”

If anyone else would have suggested that, I would have been offended, thinking they just didn’t know who I was or how capable I was (even though I really wasn’t capable). But, coming from someone as experienced as he was, who still does it today, I gave it a try. My new running journey began in January 2012 at 51 years young.

Terri Rylander

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