Growing up, I was never athletic. In elementary, physical activity equated to afternoon Block? 1, 2 ,3, Langit Lupa or whatever chase-you-chase-me game in vogue that time. I hated PE, and thought it would have done well to have it replaced with extended hours of English, or any sort of reading class. High School was more or less the same, only in that time, sitting it out in front of the computer, more reading and endless phone conversations filled my idyllic hours.
I was lucky to have a cooperative metabolism that time, and a naive sense of body image that I didn't see, nor cared if my thighs could have rolled on each other. Talk of sports would make me mutter my elitist, "I'm not athletic" which to me signified that I had better things to do. I lost a significant amount of weight after being fitted with braces in college, making me realize how much extra 'baggage' I had been carrying around; nevertheless, it didn't change my mindset about physical activity, and thin as I was then, I believed I was more than equipped to instruct my clients about fitness and exercise.
My first run was out of curiosity from our then newly bought treadmill. A fresh lacto-ovo pescetarian that time, I thought exercise fitted the whole healthy lifestyle switch. So I ran. Minus any innate motivation, I failed to sustain it after a week. I spent months being sedentary reviewing for the NLEX and NCLEX until I had become too inactive a potato could practically grow on me. I enjoined several friends to Milo Marathon's 5km run in 2009, more to keep guilt at bay than to get engage in running per se . We came 30 minutes after the gun. So there, so much for my first attempt at a marathon.
Not to be disheartened, I signed up for Globe's Run for Home 10 Km race with two girl buddies. It didn't really feel like a race to me since I was dragging my feet the whole time. I had no prior training because didn't feel like I needed to. Sure I was anxious about it for a time, but hey, I'm fit! What was there to get so worked up about? Yes that was until I finished at 1 hour 45 minutes, panting at the last of the pack, with 2% of the race group behind me. The next day was a similar story when I could barely climb the stairs from my sore legs.
It was only fortunate that I ran in one of the most organized and accurately timed marathons last year. For one, I earned a singlet and bib as brag rights, and second, it opened me up to the exhilarating atmosphere during such races. The only down side is I also had a fairly accurate 'unfitness' record to keep--which, to think about it, is also positive since it made realize how delusional I was. (Thus explains the constipated photo)
From then on, my interest in running slowly began to grow. But it wasn't until after typhoon Ondoy that I realized how much of a helpless sluggish lump I was. After things were settled, I took up swimming (no need to explain why) and ran. I think I have my friend to thank for this since I saw what fitness could do to one's physique and how it could save you in life threatening situations.
My first running lap was in the fourth level parking of our condo. I remember feeling so tired and sore after. Reading about running etcetera, respectable running should at least 30 minutes continuous. I was running 5 minutes and my lungs were practically giving out. It is true that the more you know, the more you don't know. In this case, the more I ran, the more I realized that I couldn't keep up with my perceived level of fitness. Much to my chagrin, I would have to admit that thin is far from fit.
After a few weeks of running, reading and running, I began to notice a stark difference. I was running longer and generally felt better. In my last 10K marathon in November (which I have been late again), I felt quite energized with finishing compared to how miserable I felt during my first run at Globe's Run for Home. I'm currently training for a 5k, and it's a comforting thought that I could now run 8 km straight in 35 mins. While I'm certainly far from the super runners out there, I feels great to realize that I've taken myself from my comfort zone and did what I thought I couldn't do. Would I call myself athletic now? Perhaps. But more than brag rights, being fit or being athletic, knowing how much will power you have is the greatest reward of all. In my runs, I realized that the hardest part, is actually getting out the door; the laps and miles basically just add themselves up. I've also come to terms that, one, I really knew nothing about exercise (Really, how many of us health professionals know anything about actually working out?), and second, I was too impatient and lost on any goal.
Now let me turn against myself by saying that, running, and engaging in sports, in general, is empowering. You tend to learn much about yourself as you do about the sport. It teaches you to challenge yourself, to work hard, and to slowly build on what you currently have. One thing I love about marathons is that it embodies the running adage, 'slow and steady wins the race'. Really, I didn't think I would hear that from myself either.