I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I call myself a runner, and I think of myself as a runner. But here’s the thing – when I run, I run slooooooooowly. Some people would call that “jogging”. Some people would call that “torture”. Some people wouldn’t even call me a runner – they’d call me a “run-walker” (because I run for a few minutes, then walk). Some might even call me “that woman who doesn’t realize walking is faster.”
Oh, I realize alright. I just don’t care. But there’s something that happens to all of us when we start something new – running and walking for fitness included. We are so dang proud of ourselves for simply starting to be active – but we’re afraid to claim membership in that club for fear someone will think us unworthy.
I swear, when I first started running, I could not have felt like more of an imposter. I had the wrong clothes, the wrong watch, I certainly wasn’t wearing those cute little Nike outfits, and I was pretty sure I was running on the wrong side of the road. But then I ran (sloooooooooooowly) my first 5k. And I realized that, even though I looked like someone had chosen me as the “What Not to Wear” warning show for runners, I had done it – and no one except me seemed to care.
But we all want to fit in. You can deny it, but part of the appeal of being an active person is joining the Active Club. It’s full of smiling, happy joiners who don’t wait to be invited to do something for themselves. They have their stuff together, those runners. And I don’t know about you, but I liked claiming membership in the club – even if I’m slow, and I only run 66.6% of the time.
So what’s that mean for you, if you’re a walker? Or if you don’t think that you are fast enough to get an Active Club card? It means you’re a member of the Club, regardless of what anyone else tells you. And, it means you get an added bonus: almost every resource, bit of knowledge, gear, and inspiration that Runners use, you can too.
There are magazines (Runner’s World is a good one) and entire lines of clothing from Nike, Moving Comfort, Sugoi, Danskin – you name it, they make “running” clothes. I know you’re not really surprised – but those are walking clothes made by them there manufacturers, too. And no one is going to check your mileage, or your pace, when you buy them. And then there are races. You may have a local 5k that’s hidden in the Park District near your house – and you might think “I could never do that – I’m sure it’s just those serious runners.” And it may be full of serious runners with their fancy shoes and big watches. But it’s most likely full of some slow pokes, and some walkers, and some new people, too. And don’t forget a key fact: most 5k races are run to benefit a charity. What charity turns down cash? Not many who stay in business. So don’t worry that they won’t accept your money. They will.
I guess my point today is this: I called this blog The Plus Runner because I wanted to show people that runners DO come in all shapes and sizes. But there are millions of plus-sized walkers, and run-walkers, and swimmers, and bikers out there. And believe it or not, we’re really just like everyone else – only with a few extra pounds, and a different set of hurdles.
So don’t let the intimidation factor of being a “runner” keep you from giving it a shot. Pretty soon, you’ll have some big smiles, great legs, and joiner tendencies to go along with it.
See you on the path…