In pursuit of the gazelle

you-are-a-gazelle

First thing’s first. This isn’t a blog about gazelles. I am not, nor will I ever be, the long-legged, graceful creature with the ponytail flowing in the wind that you imagine when you think of a runner. I am (barely) 5ft4. I have (mild) scoliosis. My left leg is shorter than my right leg, and my left foot is smaller than my right foot. This makes me great at running in circles (track meet, anyone?) but not so graceful when I run a straight line.

I prefer to think of myself as a lion. When you’re a lion, you spend most of your day sleeping. When you’re not sleeping, you’re rolling over. You’re grooming lazily on a rock. You’re watching other lions sleep. No, you don’t move unless it’s for one thing. Food.

But when I started, I wanted to be a gazelle.

The first time I tried to run, I was 23. I went with my husband to his gym and tried out the treadmill. My feet, accustomed to years of stilettos, assumed running just meant walking quickly on their balls. The result was the most painful bout of calf cramping I’ve experienced to date.

“How were you running, anyway?” My husband asked, exhausted after days of being my human crutches.

<tippy toed> “Like this!” </tippy toed> I said.

“That’s not how you do it.”

It would be two years before I’d try again.

The second time I tried to run, I laced up my 10 year old Tommy Hilfiger runners, put on sweat pants and a sweat shirt (because, sweat + shirt = logic, right?) and left my house determined to make it around my neighborhood which, thankfully, is a circle. I decided I would take it easy. Run a block, walk a block. It was 3.5KMs and I was in the prime of my life. I could do this!

The failiest of fails of failed runners

The failiest of fails of failed runners

No, I couldn’t.

At the time, I worked at a bank. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it is to walk in heels when you have two sprained ankles (because, heels > ankles). Even worse, was trying to hide the stack of banker’s boxes I rested them on under my desk. Eventually, my coworkers noticed.

“What happened to your ankles?”

“I sprained them running.”

“How far did you have to run to sprain your ankles?”

“A block.”

Back_away_slowly

It would be two years before I’d try again.

Older and wiser, my 27 year old self started to work on tearing down walls in my life. Negativity? Tear. Fear of failure? Tear. Running? Tea-Cheetos? Cheetos.

Reluctantly, I got a gym membership. My husband and I set up a schedule where we could train together. He would do weights, I would do the treadmill. And so, the journey began. This time, I had new runners. This time, I wore Under Armour. This time, I wouldn’t run on the balls of my feet. For my first session, I hobbled ran at a fair clip of 4MPH for 30 minutes, and felt pretty good about myself. But then the short leg forced me to an abrupt left turn and I saw the gazelle who, for the purposes of this blog, I shall call Gazella DeVil. She was running at 10MPH, and had been for 45 minutes.

treadmill of destiny

Disgusting and depressed, I went home and ate nachos.

And that’s when it happened. I found my motivation. Gazelles run because they have dainty, long legs and graceful, lean bodies that are full of nervous energy. But lions? Lions run with purpose. Lions run because they’re hungry. Lions run for food. That day, I decided to run for the delicious bits of life.

I won’t ever be a gazelle. And that’s ok. A lion only needs to beat the slowest gazelle in the herd.

Time to run (in a circle) to the pub.

 

 

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