I just might be the least athletic person I know. I am surrounded by sports. My nephews and their wives do cross-fit competitions. My husband (in his youth) took part in body building competitions. My niece grew up on the soccer field and my boys have always played baseball with a little soccer and football thrown in as we wait for spring training. That leaves me and my two daughters, who can’t cross a room without knocking something over or stubbing a toe. We are clumsy like the sun is hot.
Even still, I run. I started running as vanity. In my mid 30’s I was drifting towards the wrong end of the size rack and there was NO WAY I was giving up food and wine! Alas, the only answer was either get busy getting fat or get busy moving. I decided to move. I tried tennis, yoga, dance classes, thought seriously about spin classes but then I realized I don’t really care for people all that much. Any sort of group effort is NOT for me. My mom told me about this awesome Couch to 5K program. I thought why not? I can do anything for nine weeks… how hard can it be to run 30 seconds? Harder than you would expect, especially for a girl who’s job doesn’t make her lift anything heavier than a phone and the only time I move is when I’m pacing the floor waiting for interview feedback. But I made it through the first nine weeks and fell in love with running.
Being a recruiter, my competitive juices kicked in. After a few stops and starts, of course. I HATE running indoors and I also HATE running in the rain. I live in Seattle, so I always end up taking the winter off and starting over again in the spring. (This is clearly an aversion I need to overcome). I decided the only way to force myself to keep going was to sign up for a race. And not just any race, but the Iron Girl 5k and 10k. Naturally I registered for the 10K, because go big or go home, I guess. I had been happily putting along 2-3 miles a day a few times a week, enough to keep off the 20 pounds I’d lost running somewhat regularly. And now I was about to run six miles without stopping with a few thousand witnesses. What was I thinking??
I’ll tell you what I was thinking, I wanted this freaking medal and a decent time to go with it. All of a sudden the reason I STARTED running faded away. Sure, I still retain some of my original inspiration. I am secretly pleased when I can share certain pieces of my 19 year old daughter’s wardrobe. I can tell you exactly how many minutes around the neighborhood that piece of cake (or glass of wine) is going to cost me. Since earning my first medal though, there’s more.
I run because I can. My mom, who first encouraged me to try the C25K training program, can no longer run. Her bad knees have caught up with her and she can’t do it. I can. And should. And do. I run for people who can’t run, and try to never take my health and my strength for granted.
I run for the swag. I love having something shiny to show for my efforts. I wear all my race t-shirts, and someday when I am old I will have a quilt made out of them. I will wrap myself in it and remember when I was young and strong. I will earn enough finisher medals to decorate a Christmas tree and I’ll have an entire scrapbook filled with race bibs.
I run for therapy. Running, for me anyway, is a solo sport. I usually wear headphones and have some sort of Pandora station playing, but for the most part I use that time to get deep inside my own head. I relive conversations, think about what I “should” have said, how I’m going to tackle that next problem. I consider deals lost, what I should have done differently. I face all my frustrations and fling them to the side as I run away. It feels so good to leave all that garbage out on the trail. The lost candidates, frustrated hiring managers, missed deadlines… it all fades as I just focus on planting one foot in front of the other.
I run because it makes me a better recruiter. True story. Since I’ve started running races, I realize my only competition is with myself. Yes, there are other runners out there with me, and I find myself picking out people I want to beat or at least be close behind (I’ve got my eye on you, pink tutu girl!). I’m genuinely happy when my friends outrace me, because I know they’re meeting goals of their own. As in recruiting, I celebrate with my colleagues when they close an especially tough deal. But like in running, I look at MY performance and think where do I need to improve to see the same results?
I run because it forces me to push boundaries. I hate running in the rain, remember? So the only logical answer is to sign up for The Rain Run. This will be my first half marathon and I’m running it right in the middle of winter. We’re practically guaranteed cold, soaking rain. Yay.
I run - because if I can survive THIS - there’s no requisition, hiring manager, or candidate I can’t handle. And if things go real bad, they probably won’t be able to catch me as I run away.