Today I ran for thirty minutes straight. Me, who never in my life could run five minutes straight. Me. I'm still pretty blown away. I completed the Couch to 5K in 9 weeks program by CoolRunning.com, with the help of Robert Ullrey's fantastic podcast. I think my first run had 60 second runs with walking in-between, and it's hard to believe that over just nine weeks those sixty seconds really could stretch into thirty minutes.
Even harder to wrap my mind around is that in nine weeks one can so solidly overcome the past and rewrite the script for her life. I wrote previously about my challenges with running as a kid, and last week I had this moment in which my knees were floating up and my toes were reaching out to touch their future step and pleasure spread across my face like a warm washcloth at the end of a long day. I remembered that little girl huffing and puffing behind all the other kids and I thought, "Dear girl, this is for you."
Then, many minutes later, when I had to really concentrate on my breathing and fill my lungs full and then fuller still, and chanted in my mind, keep going keep going keep going, I thought, "This is for you, too."
Thinking about running and wanting to run don't give you any kind of self-respect, let alone an identity as a runner. What makes you feel like a runner is running. So much of the time we want to do creative work, but we have a hard time respecting ourselves as artists. I'm of the opinion that publishing does not make a writer, writing makes a writer. A gallery exhibition does not make a painter, painting makes a painter. When we treat our creative work like a hobby, we will only have the confidence of a hobbyist about our work. You might not log in hours at first sitting, or entire chapters. Three hundred words is not a lot, but they feel a helluva lot better to write than no words at all. It's much easier to believe you're capable of five hundred words tomorrow if you got in three hundred today, instead of surfing the web or watching television. Just like those sixty second runs built my belief for the ninety second runs, and eventually the twenty-eight minute runs built my belief for the thirty.
A steady, gradual progression is a force to be reckoned with. Just think, in nine weeks you could go from thinking about/dreaming about/wanting to do something, to doing it steadily and with some ease. You can rewrite what the past says you're good at or capable of, and you could be living inside a new narrative about your life. Just pick up your brush or pen or camera, lace up your shoes, and run, baby, run.