Fight or flight, most commonly known as our instinct of survival, most certainly reflects our ability, as humans, to run or in the very least the instinct of movement; whether or not you are an athlete. The simple fact is that every runner has a beginning….and every beginning has its awkward rise. Running is not a sport of beauty, unless you can see past the sweat, the tears, the smelly armpits, the red face, the discolored toenails, the…(ok, I’ll stop). Running is about strength and courage. You push your body and your mind and move forward with every step to prove that you are strong. You take hold of your courage to prove to yourself that you, my dear, are capable.

If running is your super power, your running shoes are your secret weapon. When I finally convinced myself there was no secret initiation to becoming a runner, I took the plunge (although still very fearful that a small group of runners might find me and give me a wedgie). I bought my first pair of running shoes; MY secret weapon. I found a quiet, dark park to run laps around when I began. I was so afraid that someone might see me “trying” to be a runner. They might see me jiggle, they might see me push at the last lap when it hurts the most, but worst of all they might see me try. The truth is that the most supportive people I ever met in my life have been other runners.

Every runner has been there, at the beginning. We all have to build from something, and no empire was created overnight. Every runner looks silly because every runner is ignoring the pain their mind is telling them they feel. They are singing, analyzing, rehearsing, rhyming, and any other thing they do inside their heads to keep them moving forward.

I shared my fear with my fellow runners and they shared their wisdom. Every runner is self-conscious. It takes a lot of grit to get out there in front of people you don’t know and push yourself to a vulnerable state of physical exhaustion. The truth is that there are two types of people out there, the runner and the non-runner. The runner is just jealous that they are not running and the non-runner wishes they had the courage to do what you can. That is the God’s honest truth. No runner will laugh at another runner for their appearance because we have been there.

As I found out, there is no initiation. You aren’t athletic until you build your body to be an athlete. That athletic body will not come knocking on your door. Every athlete with the body that looks like a runner was built by running, even if it is at night in the park where no one can find them to “initiate” them.

When you begin running you are going to start slowly. Just as school has a scaffolding process, so does exercise. You start slowly so you can focus on your form. You will focus on your breathing. You will focus on creating schedule that works for you. You will find your favorite music to run to. As you get comfortable with running you will find that the foundation you have built as a beginner will be what heaves your forward when you get tired. Trust the process and be confident because only strong people have the courage to run.

What I want you to take away from this is two things; One: I’m not going to give you or any other runners a wedgie. And two: lose the insecurity and embrace your courage. Do what you makes you feel like a badass because you are.

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