Running on asphalt

Female Runner.jpg

I am the most unlikely runner. Scratch that, I am not anything that remotely resembles a runner. There is a smirk on my face as I write the word “runner” in conjunction with my name. I know some runners – I am not one of them. I quite literally, “run like a girl”; this phrase would not be an insult if applied to me. This is so, not because of my run time or my athleticism, but rather, the way my hands sway and my hips sashay. In secondary school, they laughed and jeered when in my SS3 my house was so desperate for runners that they included me in their lineup. Funny story about that.

I recently picked up running outdoors. In the past, I have on occasion had short term affairs with running on the treadmill – gym classes are, and have, for the last decade plus, been my main squeeze. I’ve always hated running on tar, but for some reason, since Nov. 2017, something has led me to pick up this increasingly ubiquitous habit of the morning run. I think trying out running came to me because: 1.) gym fees are extraordinarily ridiculous {at least, at my fave gym} 2.) when I was moving to NYC 3 years ago, I had it in my mind to run a marathon <> while I lived in NYC, I conveniently never once remembered this desire (haha!) 3.) it is something I can do with my brother and I am always looking for things to do with my family 4.) it is a great way to spend the morning, rather than sleeping in, and doesn’t include the complications of driving to aforementioned gym and/or using the shower at the gym. Check, check, check, check.

After 6 continuous weeks of running here are my thoughts on the morning run >> from a baby runner’s perspective, especially one who isn’t prepping for a marathon or anything, just running for the pleasure of running and in the hopes that her body grows stronger and thanks her at some future day:

  1. Running is SUCH a metaphor for many of life’s biggest learnings (I just googled this, and no, I didn’t come up with it/I am not the first to come to this realization – there is even an Oprah quote on it – so I must have picked it up somewhere and it is only just making sense now).
  2. The secret is in showing up and choosing the right partner >> @5:15am in the morning, I do not want to go running; while doing my jumping jacks warm ups, I do not want to go running; once I start running, I am glad I went running. We cannot wait until we want to do what we need to do (or want to do). Sometimes, we just need to set our minds to do something and then schedule it. The partner thing is a whole post on its own, but I would have given up so many times (read: never made it out the door) if not for my baby brother.
  3. Start slow, (or in life, start small) >> I am in no hurry for any type of physical impact with my running and I have no need to compete in any race any time soon, so I am not in a hurry to learn about pace or even to know how many kilometers I have covered. I still haven’t opened the box of my fitbit (smh! welp!). My only goal is to still be running in a year’s time and to improve daily. This puts me under less pressure. The first day, I basically just tried to understand how far I could comfortably go. We ran some and we walked some. I still ended up getting shin splints (told you I wasn’t a runner) and then discovered that there is a term in the running world, something they tell you to watch out for: running too fast, too far, too soon. And isn’t this a warning about life!?!
  4. Improve incrementally >> I live in an estate, so my run involves running to the estate gate and then wrapping around the bridges that lead to and from the estate. So at the beginning, I picked a street; the first day I made it half way down and walked the rest of the way down that particular street, three days later, I ran three-quarters, and two weeks later, I ran the whole street. Then I picked a new and longer Avenue, and I am working my way through that now. I do this at every part of the run. Hopefully soon, I will be able to run the entire way.
  5. Set goals. I run longer on the bridge, something about the endless stretch of road. I set goals using road signs and lamp posts, always pushing myself past the previous day’s effort. The feeling of accomplishment at attaining a goal cannot be over exaggerated, and this is such an easy goal to cross out, so I say yes to the opportunity to start my day slaying dragons. And yes to using this as the template for all the other goals that I set for the rest of my day. And for all my goals in general – keep them in view and keep progressing towards them. #datsall
  6. Don’t quit. I feel a bit apprehensive using this as a life lesson, because we all know there are times that we need to quit, and there is nothing wrong with having to quit or failing. I find that the rhetoric on “never quit” causes many of us to have the propensity to hold on to sunk financial and emotional costs and to mistakes that we’ve spent a lot of time making. To keep beating dead horses. When what we need to do is just “shake shake, shake it off”. In running though, unless your health is at risk, you are in control, and you should not quit. Rest, but don’t quit.
  7. Running gives me perspective. My mind wanders where it may (this is expected, kind of like in the shower, am I right?) However, it also gives me perspective on other things, such as being a pedestrian on the roads that I drive. Since I started running, there is a bend on the way to my home, which I now take differently, more consciously about the possible pedestrian around the bend. The ability to see different perspectives, to hold another’s opinion as valid, to ponder and investigate it, while also standing firm in ours is something our world is slowly loosing. || Another lingering perspective from my run are the people who I share this city with – Lagos is bustling at 5:30am, cars heading to and from the island. If I were not running, I would be sleeping for another 1.5 hours. Yet, there are people who have already driven the 1hr+ from their homes – and while I’ve always known this, the opportunity to be on the road at the same time, to be a witness to their sacrifices for their families. To move in unison, though our pursuits differ, our determination, focus, confidence, strength are identical.
  8. Watching a city wake is the most awe inspiring thing to me – this is one of my fave things to do on holiday: watch the sun rise, the cleaners work, the birds sing and the store fronts open. Running helps me do this in my real life, how cool is that? I cannot wait to take my running with me on my travels this year, and as much as I am looking forward to discovering many African cities, I am really hoping to take it to NYC. This is the city I think the most about while running, I think it is because it is the city in which I have spent the most time outdoors, usually just walking for blocks and blocks. I would love to run in NYC in the spring just as the cherry blossoms come out, to see them in full bloom and then, only a couple of days later, see them rain-soaked. To go to alma-mater and watch as she towers over fallen leaves, fallen snow and sparkling lights. I won’t run in the summer though, (sam, sam – we have to set some boundaries).
  9. It’s so good to end a run with Yoga>>Meditation>> Shower >> Oatmeal or Parfait. C'est tres parfait et magnifique!
  10. Don’t forget to Stretch. Take days off. Breathe. Relax.