Not a runner

I am not a runner.

I do not wake up at 5 a.m. and pound the pavement in the dark or run laps around the oval. I do not spend my lunch breaks at work getting changed into running gear and whizzing past others with headphones in my ears. I do not have the long, lean taut legs with perfectly toned calf muscles that runners seem to have.

I am not a runner.

So when I signed up for City2Surf a month before the event, I thought I had lost my mind. I rationalised it by coercing a couple of friends to join in so we could “jog and walk” most of it. It was going to be fun. Just like hiking but not in a national park. But I thought I should attempt to train anyway. After all, it was a 14-kilometre run with a few hills.

I am not a runner.

But I started incorporating a run once a week into my fitness routine. For someone who loves strength-training and loathes cardio with a passion, this was a challenge. I started with two kilometres, then three, then five, and then seven. Most of it was on flat surfaces but trying to last the distance was always tough. But I persisted. With headphones in, listening to my gym junkie playlist, I put one foot in front of the other and huffed and puffed the distance.

The week before the City2Surf, I felt the start of a cold, a sore throat and just general blah-ness. Dowsing myself in cold and flu tablets, making sure I rested, I found myself feeling better the night before the event. On the morning of the event, however, I woke up feeling anxious.

What had I got myself into? Why was I doing this? What if my friends bailed on me? What the hell was I thinking? What if I aggravated my knee problems? What if I died? 

The last thought wasn’t an exaggeration – I’d found out the night before that some people had indeed died from a heart attack while competing in the City2Surf.

I got myself to the city and met my friend {who didn’t bail on me}. It felt like most of Sydney had decided to wake up early on a Sunday morning and run, jog or walk from Hyde Park in the city to Bondi beach in the east. We made our way through the crowds to the starting point of our wave – the one for joggers and slow runners. When the whistle blew, we jogged with the swarm of people while trying to ensure we didn’t trip over others. My four-week training hadn’t accounted for this. Less than a kilometre into our jog, my friend suggested I push on ahead as she’d been under the weather herself.

With headphones in my ears, I ran, dodging slower runners. I was focussed on one thing – putting one foot in front of the other. I ran, occasionally acknowledging the music in my ears but mainly focussing on the thudding of my feet, the beating of my heart, the dripping of my sweat. I slowed down to a walk at a couple of the hills but other than that, I powered on, ignoring the twinge in my knees, the stitch in my side.

An hour and forty-four minutes later, I crossed the finish line. To say it was an exhilarating feeling is an understatement. There was relief at finishing without collapsing. There was the rush of adrenalin at having run the longest distance I’d ever run. There was the thrill of accomplishing this feat. There was bewilderment at actually being able to run most of the distance.

Sure, when the endorphins wore off, there was a wave of nausea. My body ached in places I didn’t know existed. My knees felt like they belonged to someone much older. My toes were bloodied thanks to a blister during the run. But it didn’t stop me from committing to doing it all over again next year. Or at least a run of some sort.

I am not a runner.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this experience it’s that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. All it takes is determination, practice and a pinch of stupidity to believe it is possible.

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  • John Hric
    17 September 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Way way back I used to run. Now I tend to more or less all day marathons around the garden at a more or less sedate pace. One of these day I will figure out the milage. Spring and fall include lots of weight training moving plants and both emptying and filling compost piles. I am not a runner… bean!

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      18 September 2018 at 5:53 am

      Haha…I’m sure any form of incidental exercise is better than none at all. I doubt I’ll run long-term given my knees but for now, it’s fun

  • Lindsay
    18 September 2018 at 6:52 am

    Seriously though, what a HUGE accomplishment. Especially considering you’re not a runner in the slightest. So happy for you. I should do something like this, get me out of my comfort zone. I too am not a runner but the thought of the challenge sounds fun!
    Lindsay recently posted…What’s up, Weekend? {09/14}My Profile

  • Rajlakshmi
    18 September 2018 at 8:32 am

    Omg that is so awesome ?? hats off to you! 14 km is like… Forever.
    I can’t run to save my life. Cardio is so painful. So happy you completed the run.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Kiss the Wild Winds – Travel PoemsMy Profile

  • Vinitha
    18 September 2018 at 10:34 am

    Wow, that’s amazing! Being a non-runner you ran like a pro, Sanch. I can’t run. I don’t run. I never ran other than times I did while growing up. I had a wish to do a marathon by 35. That’s never going to come true now! Anyway, you did great, Sanch. Congratulations!
    Vinitha recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 51My Profile

  • Damyanti
    18 September 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Wow, that was inspiring.

    I walk everyday—about 6 km or so and I also try and get in strength training twice a week.

    I don’t think I could walk 14km, let alone run!

  • Soumya
    18 September 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Yayyyy, you did it. Isn’t that what matters?

    I love running, but I prefer yoga and weights. But yes, once you put your mind into something you can achieve anything.
    Soumya recently posted…The Art & Comfort Of FoodMy Profile

  • Kalpana Solsi
    20 September 2018 at 4:25 am

    I am not a runner, I am a walk and can walk for miles but the thought of sprinting scares me. Admire your determination to focus on a goal.

  • Natasha
    20 September 2018 at 8:32 pm

    I could envision myself in your shoes while reading “I’m Not a Runner”. I started running way back in 2010. I did not enjoy it, but the “runners-high” the adrenaline rush post a run, were way to luring to stop me from going all out. The sense of accomplishment at the finishers line is huge.

    You ran so well Sanch, that is some mean feat- 1:44 mins!! That too 14 k in a part hilly terrain.

    I ran my first 10 k a couple of years back, though with an injury and I ran the entire stretch in 1:35 mins. Just like you my running buddies had persuaded me to come for this run which was at Corbett. Though I had a niggling glute injury, I did not once stop to walk. And the icing on the cake was how all the runners kept cheering each other while they crossed them. I did the same. Ok, here’s the link to the post:

    Amidst all this I realised I do not enjoy running as much as cycling. So, now it’s been 2-1/2 years I haven’t run, except a tiny marathon early this year. Also I have these niggling knee injuries from two cycle falls, so have been advised to take a break from running and even cycling-I’m allowed just 1/2 hour. I’m hoping the Bowen therapy helps and I’m back to the long rides on my saddle and pounding the roads. I don’t know if I will ever run a lot, but I do want to do one half-marathon in my life, at least.

    Currently, I am walking about 6 k on most days, as have been asked to take a break from strength training too while the injuries heal.

    I totally enjoyed reading your post. Your fitness regime is so inspirational and we could all take back a lesson or two from your diligence.

  • natasha
    20 September 2018 at 8:34 pm

    And yes, persistence and focus is all that counts. Very aptly said. And a dollop of madness to go with it.

  • KJ Hunter
    21 September 2018 at 1:42 am

    I am also not a runner, and never want to be! I don’t know you at all, but I’m so proud of you! Your story is such a shining example of perserverence and the power of believing in yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed this!

  • Sara
    21 September 2018 at 6:39 am

    I’m sure the reward was worth all the effort and pain: the renewal of confidence and trust in yourself. Wee run and well-written, Sanch!

  • Hema
    21 September 2018 at 11:51 am

    This is such an inspiring post, Sanch. I’m glad you pushed through the barrier!

  • Margaret
    21 September 2018 at 11:51 am

    Well done! I loved the repeated line, “I am not a runner,” and not only because I can relate.

  • Parul Thakur
    22 September 2018 at 3:20 am

    Love you for staying at it. I am also not a runner but I would like to be one day. Well, I need to start trying first. I love your commitment too. 🙂
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