Saturday, September 15, 2012

Couch-to-5K, and no, K doesn’t stand for kitchen

I did it!
I recently decided to move against the current of my entire erstwhile existence and take up running. Actually, running is too strong a word. It’s more like walking with a pained and aggravated bounce.

Prior to this week I have insisted that the only circumstance under which I would run is if I were being chased by some kind of angry assailant or hungry animal. And yet here I am, morning after morning, hitting the pavement for 30 minutes of self-inflicted torture. Although I still don’t like doing it or really even see the appeal yet, I was inspired to get off my ass and run by my legions of mom friends who are suddenly busting out 5Ks the way I bust out loaves of zucchini bread and jars of jam.

So. I download the Couch-to-5K app for the iPhone and get going. On day one, I run wearing a t-shirt from a local cupcake truck business that I wrote about for a magazine. On day two, I run wearing a t-shirt from a barbeque festival that I was assigned to cover for a food website.

I see a pattern emerging. I literally get paid to eat, and now I’m sweating through a cupcake shirt. It’s not doing much for my running credibility, which is already in question since I also am somehow able to kick myself in the calves as I go. So I buy some legit running outfits to look more the part.

Did I also mention that I live next door to Dunkin' Donuts? I run on a quarter-mile path that wraps around my condo complex and right past the drive-through, where I hear things like, “Aaaaaand….three chocolate-glazed donuts. Yeah, that’s it.” And it smells really good in the morning, like coffee and happiness.

But my trouble has never been with food. As anyone who knows me understands, I am unapologetically and unabashedly guilt-free in my love for all things food related. I don’t even have body image issues; in fact, I think I have a kind of reverse anorexia in which I believe I’m thinner than I actually am.

My trouble has been with the belief that I am inherently un-athletic. It’s not my fault, I reasoned, just the way I was born. So I didn’t even try. But I recently read an article in Psychology Today called “The Trouble With Bright Girls,” which says “bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.” When bright girls struggle with something, they give up; boys on the other hand just try harder to master it. And suddenly, my entire, lifelong experience with sports (and math, but that’s a topic for another day) came back to me in a rush.

And so, I decide that I could learn to run, just like I could learn to make jam, just like Chloe is overcoming her disability and learning to walk. I have no doubt that Chloe will walk unassisted, that she’ll be able to work hard and practice in order to learn how to do something that comes naturally to almost everyone else. The notion she wouldn’t be able to do it isn’t even a remote possibility in my mind. Chloe is one of the brightest girls I know. And if she can do it, so can her mama.

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