I am going to look like an idiot.
It was early on a Sunday morning in the spring. I put on some old tennis shoes I’d had since college and some old gym clothes I’d had lying around. After thinking about it for a very long time, I had finally decided to go on my first run. Ever.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so I kept my expectations pretty low. I decided to walk/jog at whatever interval I felt comfortable. I knew I wasn’t going to run three miles nonstop much less a mile or half a mile, I figured, too, that I would look pretty awkward doing it.
But looking fantastic or running a full mile nonstop was not the point of that day. The point was merely to start.
I felt pretty good walking and jogging at my own pace. And the looking awkward thing? I got over that pretty much quickly. I passed a few other runners that morning, but they were so busy doing their own thing that they hardly noticed me.
I accomplished what I set out to accomplish that morning: getting started. It was my very first “run”.
Later that day I went out and bought myself some slightly better shoes. I kept walking and jogging until I was jogging more and walking less.
Since then running has become one of the most satisfying and fulfilling things I do during my day.
Five years later I’ve completed three half marathons, a full marathon, and two relay races, plus a number of other smaller distance races.
I doubt I’ll ever become an ultra-marathoner, and that’s okay. I do what I need to do, and it makes me happy.
Yet even after all that training and all those miles run, there’s still a little something that makes my stomach twist in a knot every time I warm up and put my shoes on to go for a run.
I don’t worry about looking like an idiot as I did before that first run. But some part of me is fearful of the physical discomfort, of pushing myself through the discomfort.
I keep going because I’ve been through this enough times to know that I’ll move through this fear, that I’ll be okay, that I’ll actually feel great. I’ll feel so great as a matter of fact that when I walk up my front porch after it’s all over, I’ll feel a little regret that the run is over. And I’ll look forward to when I can do it again the next day.
These are the same motions I go through when I sit down to write every day. I am very confident in my writing abilities, but even I get a little twinge of fear when I sit down to write: fear of having a bad day, fear of not moving my pen, and the fear of the ideas not coming to me.
But as with the running, I know that once I get warmed up and get going, then it will get easier and easier. By the end of my writing time I tend to feel energized and refreshed and a little regretful that it’s over and I look forward to doing it again the next day.
If you are just getting started, then do as I did and keep your expectations low. Nobody expects you to run a sub 9-minute mile straight on your first day out. (For you non-runners, that’s really fast). Nobody expects you to be Prefontaine. Your only job is to get started.