I have a lot of college-educated readers out there. And lots who aren’t. For those who never had the experience, when you first arrive at the halls of higher learning, you get handed a giant catalogue (or, sometimes, a very short list) of courses that you have to complete before you can do anything “fun”. These are things like “Foundations of American History” and “Statistics 101”. Or, if you’re me, “Remedial Spanish”.
As I was back on the path again on Saturday, I got to thinking that I was running through my own personal course of “Running Foundations”. It’s a Freshman Year course. It’s usually one that you wander into, occasionally hungover, and with questionable attire, sometimes wondering if you really should have had that late night Burrito the night before. But alas, because you have made a commitment to better yourself and your life, you find yourself in a classroom (or on a path) at 8:00 a.m. on a day which usually involves sleeping in. And for what?
Well, the premise is prety simple. If you’ve never had a course in World History, and some day, you want to work for the United Nations, it might help to understand where all of the great countries in this world arose from.
Similarly, if you want to be the next Meredith Grey, you might want to attend Basic Hairdressing, while also figuring out how to tell the difference between an ACL and an MCL at Basic Physiology.
And if you want to some day run a half marathon, or a whole marathon, or even just get to a point where you can run regularly ( the equivalent of ALWAYS knowing where that MCL is), you have to slog through the early mornings, or the late nights, and the simple pain – and occasionally, outright fun – of learning something you’ve never learned before.
I was thinking all of this because I’d been through Running Foundations long, long ago. In the tail end of my law school career, I was interning at a large firm, overweight and out of shape, and I was in no condition to start running. But I somehow decided I should try. I got started with the basics, and embarked on a solid year of running short distances before I ever considered running anything long.
I feel very much like I’m back in Freshman year right now, re-learning how to do all of this again. I seem to have forgotten some of the habits that I got into after years of Advanced Running (like the fact that I’m always only warmed up after about 3 miles) but on the up side, I am also continuously surprised and happy to be running again.
It’s like that first moment when you’re learning a new language and you realize that you can say more than “Oui” and “Non” and can, in fact, order a cup of coffee with some milk in it to go! You want to do a little dance at the accomplishment, while recognizing that it’s probably still very small. Indeed, a very small thing.
On Saturday, it was the realization for me that I was going to have no problem getting in a 3 mile run/walk, when I was about 2/3 of the way through. It was going to be fine. I felt like a pro coming back to audit the introductory course, but I didn’t care. I knew how this early day of the Running Foundations class was going to end, and it was going to end well. I was going to feel super strong, and happy, and I wasn’t going to want to crash out (at least not until later that day!).
And that’s probably the best part about coming back to the basics. I do know how this path looks. I do know how to navigate through the ups and downs of a return to running. But in the meantime, I get the great days of hauling through the Common; of feeling like I’m actually FAST (???), and of knowing that I am absolutely in the right place, doing the right thing, to be healthy and strong.
I’m not quite sure what my “advanced” course looks like these days. Will I ever try to run another half marathon? Who knows. It seems awfully crazy to me right now, I’ll be honest. For me, I may just be one of those continuing “General Studies” majors who goes on to sample everything – and that would be okay. But for now, I’m going to put in my time on the Foundations. I’m going to commit to running a few times a week, and to cross-train on the off days – and like any good Freshman, I’m going to plan for some party time.
And as Foundations go, that’s good enough for me.
See you on the path!