Diary of a Newbie Runner: Restarting My Running Life

{By Ellery Sadler}

After a lengthy 10 week vacation from running (because of knee injuries, not just laziness!) I have begun to run again and by ‘begun’ I mean start over. Take this piece of sage advice from a wizened old runner – if you start do not stop, and if you stop do not start again unless you have great mental strength and stamina.

I actually started running again by accident. I was all prepared to do my beloved P90X on a hot June morning, when my sisters and mom informed me that they were running (i.e. that I should run too). That threw me off. I like to plan to run beforehand so that I can ‘get my head in the game’ as Hailey always says when heading out for anything longer than 10 miles. I need to get my head in the game for anything longer than 1 mile. And this was going to be 3. For the first time in 10 weeks. Yikes!

But since I am bold and fearless Amazon-woman type,  I ran upstairs and grabbed my running shoes and headed back down with, when I glanced in the mirror, the halo-crowned face of a martyr. So we headed out.

A long black paved road stretched out before us, four adventurers seeking pain – exercise I mean, how could I forget? – camaraderie, and the glories of a hot summer day. It started out fine, my knees were not hurting, my music was playing, the sun was shining, and I was once again feeling that thrill known as the runner’s high. But do you know what is even more memorable that the runner’s high? The runner’s low. And that is what this run soon became.

After about a mile and a half, I desperately wished we were home again. My side cramped and felt like someone was twisting my bones into sharp knots. My knees hurt so I ran along the side of the road in the grass, which was scratchy and filled with bugs. My eyes glazed over. This was bad. This what I remembered running like – on my long vacation I had fondly remembered only the good runs, where it was cool and breezy and I was feeling fine – but this was not at all like that.

On top of all that, my two older sisters were gliding before me like elusive gazelles, and my mom was like this machine, just ahead, just out of reach, always going. And me? I was like an exhausted snail. Or caterpillar, inching its way along in the hot sun and hoping not to get squished in the process. Not very flattering, I know, but I try to be honest in these posts, and that is the cold, hard, honest, truth. As we rounded the bend, I almost wished I would twist my ankle, or that my knees would hurt badly enough for me to stop. But I didn’t twist my ankle  and technically my knees weren’t hurting that  bad… So I pressed on, following my fleet-footed relatives towards home.

Home. It’s a beautiful word. And a beautiful place. Especially after a run. I slowed gratefully to a walk as we came to our mailbox and turned off my music with a relieved sigh. First run after injury – check! It was victory. Running is always a victory. I highly recommend it as a mental sport, physical activity, great way to get your heart-rate up, and a way to get a daily victory in thirty minutes or less! But wait there’s more! Please be cautioned that before attempting this far-from-human feat that it is not fun, nor is it painless. I now remember the feeling of I-think-I-am-going-to-die. Running is the combination of two extreme emotions: I am dying and I just finished a run which = VICTORY! 

And so the tale of my love-hate relationship begins again. Believe me, there is nothing like being a newbie runner. 

If you are one, claim it. 

If you aren’t because you never run – get up off that couch and become one. 

And if you aren’t because you’ve been running for years and are no longer a newbie, then keep up the good work. You are my hero. Also, you’d better be fast because I’m going to catch up to you. Eventually.