Running is a hobby I never expected to pick up in my lifetime – I am short, with the kind of body that builds muscle more easily than it does aerobics, and I’m famously terrible at breathing (I have asthma) and at not fainting (I have vasovagal syndrome). However, I’ve been running for about a year now, and it’s for sure because I picked up this book:
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, by Misa Sugiura
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is a typical YA romance novel, it’s maybe not as groundbreaking and fantastic as I remember it, but it was life-changing for me. It was one of the first positive F/F representations I read, and with a Latina no less. The main character is a Japanese-American teen who says she has the wrong body type for running, and yet tries it, and keeps going. She even learns to enjoy it and feel mentally better afterwards. I craved that mental clarity that she described when she talked about running, the anxious energy leaving your body and instead pumping your heart, and thought maybe I should give it a go, even though I, too, didn’t have the body or mental toughness for it. I know it sounds silly, but that little push was all I needed, that little bit of representation of someone who doesn’t have the typical body of a runner and natural athleticism still actually go and do it. It was a case of the perfect book at the perfect time, even if my reading tastes have changed so much since then.
I always visualized runners as tall, lean and (unbelievably) morning people, whereas I am short, soft and grumpy before noon. I was also overweight when I started out, which meant I had to take extra steps to make sure I ran safely and comfortably (I have a post about it: Running as an Overweight Woman).
I didn’t expect to like running so much. I’ve always been sedentary and had a few health issues that make running more difficult, so becoming a runner was not something I really envisioned for myself. It is a constant physical and mental struggle. It’s not as easy as “put on your shoes and run”, especially for someone as unfit as I was. Luckily I am stubborn and have an amazing support system that kept me going, and then one day I realized I actually enjoyed it. My health has never been so good – I sleep better, I am hardly ever sick for more than a day or two, my asthma is much improved. I feel light on my feet. I love running. I am not fast, I’m not lean, I’m not very mentally tough and my running form is vaguely ridiculous (I am TIGHT on the shoulders) but I am still going.
On March 2019, I finished my first 1K huffing and puffing, face bright red, lungs hurting and with my shins on fire. On July 2019 I ran my first 5K. Now I am training for a 10K and I am so proud of myself.
I hope that, if you were considering running but think you’ll be no good at it, that you will give it a try anyway. Try and keep trying, even if you think you suck at it. You’re still a runner, and that is something to be proud of!