I hate running. I always have. If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram you’re probably wondering why the hell I’m about to run my second 5K. Let’s go back in time for a minute so I can explain.
The following words used to give me major anxiety . . .
- Shuttle Run
- Pull Ups
- Curl Ups
- THE MILE
Did that bring back any memories? Those are all tests that my classmates and I were publically graded on for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test which started in elementary school.
Each day for a week there would be a different test to complete. I remember on the day of these fitness tests powwowing with the other un-athletic kids (a mix of husky kids, nerdy skinny kids, and kids that just didn’t give a shit about sports) about how we would finagle our way out of them.
- “Do you think they’ll let me skip if I say I don’t feel good?”
- “If you hold my knees during the curl ups, I’ll say you did enough to pass.”
- “I can’t run a mile. I’m walking the whole thing.”
- “Ok if you walk the whole thing I will too. We’ll stick together”
- “They can’t do anything about it if we all walk together.”
- “I can’t do a pull up. Can I just hang there?”
For a fat kid with no athletic abilities this time of year was institutionalized torture. You were forced to complete the tests with the rest of the class watching and silently judging you. Even the gym teacher was judging you as they gave you a look of disgust for not being able to do one pull up while they feverishly wrote down your score on their clipboard. Every single kid no matter their athletic ability was judged against the same BS standards. I quickly learned to equate my lack of fitness with failure and unworthiness.
The most dreaded of all the fitness tests was “THE MILE.” You had to run the entire thing in like 10 minutes or something like that. I was a chunky kid. I hated running. I wasn’t an athlete. I didn’t play sports. I was more interested in things like reading, writing, piano, and horse back riding. I never passed THE MILE.
The kids that didn’t pass THE MILE were called out in front of the entire class and corralled into a separate group to do it again . . . sometimes after class ended. As if public shaming was going to create some magical result that they didn’t get the first time around. The gym teacher would scream and yell at us across the outdoor track to “RUN, NO WALKING ALLOWED!!! LET’S GO! HURRY UP!”
Gym class is our first experience in life with fitness and exercise. My experiences made me loath anything related to physical fitness. It laid the foundation in my mind that I’ll never be able to run or do anything remotely athletic. I wanted nothing to do with a gym or fitness after my school years. In my opinion the Presidential Physical Fitness Test created the opposite effect of what it was intended to do. However, that’s an entirely different post!
So let’s get back to the point of this post. If I hate running so much why torture myself with a 5K?
1. Fitness is Now On My Terms
I still hate running. One of the reasons I’ve always hated running is because of the things that happened in my younger years with the Presidential Fitness tests. It got embedded into my brain years ago that I can’t run fast enough so why bother. That’s what those tests taught me. I was more than capable of running back then. I gave up before I even tried because I knew I couldn’t do it in under 10 minutes and if you couldn’t do that you weren’t good enough. You were lazy and pathetic. I still can’t run a mile in 10 minutes but it doesn’t matter! I get to exercise and workout on MY terms now.
2. I Need a Challenge
I ran my first 5K in December 2012 and it was the best feeling in the world. It’s a sense of accomplishment that I can’t begin to explain. I decided to do it again this October to challenge myself and keep me accountable to my fitness goals.
3. To Prove Myself Wrong
My first 5K in 2012 was the first time I ran in public since high school. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t run for a number of different reasons. Completing that 5K proved that I CAN run. It proved all those gym teachers wrong. It proved that the Presidential Physical Fitness test is a joke and a completely inaccurate way to judge kids.
To some people 3 miles may be nothing but to me it’s everything and then some. Those 3 miles of running non-stop represent more to me than just winning a medal. It represents doing something I was told I couldn’t do and publicly shamed for. Yes I can do it and so can you!
4. For My Inner Fat Kid
I’m doing another 5K for my inner fat kid and all the other fat kids out there that are being shamed by their gym teachers and classmates right now. Running this 5K represents hope for all the kids that are told they HAVE to run a mile in 10 minutes or they aren’t good enough. You can run it, jog it, or walk it and you are still amazing. It doesn’t matter how you finish . . it just matters that you give it your all!
5. Because I Can
Most importantly I’m doing it simply because I can. I have a body that is healthy and I want to use it. I have 2 strong legs with some serious calf muscles that were made for taking me anywhere I want to go. I may not be the fastest or the most athletic but I’m me and I can do this.
“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”
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