Why am I running?

Me: “Just did 13 km today, it felt great, no knee pain or anything!”

Mom: Look of concern. “Oh that’s too much, why would you do that? You have knee pain? Why are you running?”

So much for encouragement from my mom. 

Myself and the girls hiking Mt. Finlayson

Myself and the girls hiking Mt. Finlayson

Why am I running?  Because I can. Because it keeps me healthy.  Because I know if I need to run for my life from a crazy knife-wielding person I can. Because it keeps me sane .  And also because I can’t seem to excel at any other sport requiring hand-eye coordination or a team player attitude. 

I found my elementary school teacher report forms not long ago, and read with conviction how “Brianne excels in reading, writing and math, but needs to participate more during P.E.” One report from a grade four teacher said that I “pretend to get tagged out all the time and sit down even when I haven’t.”  I had to laugh at that – that is definitely something I can see my 10-year-old self doing! 

Things didn’t change at all when I got to middle school – it just got worse.  I could barely run for one minute without getting cramps.  I hated the dreaded ‘Dunford Run’ on Fridays, where students had to run four blocks in a square; if we beat the teacher, we got a six. Every minute after that one point was taken off, and the group of girls walking in last (myself included) would get zero.  I think I never had higher than a C- in P.E. throughout my secondary school years – shitty, considering I actually had decent grades otherwise.

It wasn’t just running I couldn’t do, it was any team sports.  I hated them all.  I hated being so bad that I would let the team down, or looking like a fool because I didn’t know what I was doing.  I tried at the start, but couldn’t pick it up as fast as others could.  It’s not like I sat around at home doing nothing; I loved rollerblading, biking, hiking and swimming on my own time or with friends.  The thing I didn’t like was the team aspect – I like doing things for myself, beating my own goals and seeing how far I can push myself.  Individual sports, featuring myself –  go Team Bri!

That’s the beauty of running.  Yes, you can compete against others, but most people I know that run do it for themselves, trying to beat their best time rather than beat someone else’s. Not to place the blame elsewhere, but if teachers taught running the way I think of it now, maybe I would have tried harder. 

My parents never pushed me into extra curricular activities; actually, I think they were quite relieved I didn’t want to do anything on a team or with other people (saved them major $$$). The problem is they got so used to me not doing anything physical that now they can’t understand why I would want to start.  Every time I head downstairs in the morning with my helmet and bike gloves on, ready for my hour-long bike into town to work, my mom gives me this oh-that’s-too-much-for-you look.  When I told them I entered the half marathon, they barely acknowledged it.  Maybe I’m looking for the approval I missed out on by missing out on team sports.  Sure, I got accolades for my good grades and various honor roll awards, but it’s a different feeling having your parents cheer you on from the sidelines of a sporting event. 

I guess I’m too old to be looking for that kind of approval – really, I should be focusing on graduating university and getting an awesome career and moving out…but I just can’t help but be a little disappointed when I come home, sweaty and flushed from a 13 km run, to my mom telling me that maybe I’m doing too much.  Then again, all that makes me want to do is try even harder to show them that I can do too much, and even more than that.