Diary of a Newbie Runner: Run Like a Cute Guy is Watching You … Because One Just Might Be

{By Ellery Sadler}

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Ok, I haven’t been running very much.

Somewhere between the schoolwork and the aching knees and the worn out running shoes, my life has become more of Insanity and P90X than running.  But when we were on vacation in South Carolina, I decided I would give it a shot and go for a run.

My mom was running too of course (she just ran a half marathon yesterday!) but I decided to go on my own, because she was going further faster than I wanted to go. I just wanted an ‘easy’ three miles. Now, to every runner out there, three miles isn’t very long. But I’m unusual. And three miles might as well be a marathon for the amount of pain and sweat and effort involved.

I turn on my iPod and head out the door. There is something about South Carolina I probably should mention. It’s hot. Like really hot and humid. And the pavement steams. And the sweat drips. And the people in air-conditioned cars pass. And I begin to think I must be crazy.

I turn my music up louder, hoping to drown out the pain of a cramp in my side and the grinding in my knees. If running wasn’t painful, boring, and sweaty, I think I might like it. I chug along, down the back streets where houses all have front porches and fences dripping in sweet, heady-smelling confederate jasmine. I pass a woman biking with her dog. Another middle aged woman looking hot and tired runs by me. I think about taking a quick break and walking for a minute. No one’s watching me anyway.

I get up to the stop sign and pause to retie my shoelace. (I’ve found that this is a great way to rest for a second, if you still want to look like a dedicated runner. Just make it seem like you don’t know how to tie shoelaces and you can stay down there, crouched in blissful stillness for about five minutes.)

It was after a minute or two that I looked up and saw him.

He was coming from the other direction, shirtless, blond haired, and tan, like most of the boys are who spend their days down here amidst the sand and salt water and southern charm. Immediately I wished I had been sprinting or something instead of tying my silly shoelace.

I stood up and coolly looked in either direction but there were no cars, there never are on those tiny streets. He was coming towards me, running with the ease and grace of some sort of animal. Like a gazelle or something … whatever the manly version of a gazelle is. 

So I ran across the street and towards him, my music blaring in my ears, my sunglasses hopefully covering most of my face. His blond hair blew in the wind. He didn’t even have music. Yeah, he was one of those kinds.  He was watching me and I was pretending not to watch him. Suddenly I felt very athletic. The pain in my knees didn’t bother me and the sun beating down on me now felt rather wonderful. I was going fast now, quite impressively fast.  And the distance between us was rapidly disappearing.

We came closer to each other.  And I’ve never been such a graceful, fast, athletic looking runner in my life as when he was watching me. He nodded and gave me a half-smile. I waved casually and smiled. And we ran past each other. Headed in opposite directions.

And the pavement was steamy. And the sun was torturous. And my knees cried out for mercy. And my head pounded with my music. I glanced behind me and saw him disappearing down the street. And suddenly my run was back to normal … it was hot and I was in pain. Running has a way of making me feel old, decrepit, and fat. But still, there were those few blissful moments of painless, fast, glorious running.

So here are a couple things to remember:

1) Get out there and run.

2) Don’t take too long tying your shoelaces at stop signs, or it might be a little awkward when you look up and see that someone has been staring at you for the last five minutes.

3) Run like a cute guy is watching you … because one just might be.