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After years of running from running, here I am: a runner

First I tried to run to Neil Diamond. He was the most relaxed person I could imagine. It felt almost impossible to get incredibly pumped up listening to a guy sing about crying into pretzels. Dear Carolinehowever was more of a challenge. I challenge you not to try to time your punches to the “yuck, bah, bah”.

We had to get more boring. I’ve generally put music aside and listened to audiobooks while running. There’s nothing technically illegal about it, but it feels deeply inappropriate, like bringing a roast chook into a library. Still, it gave me everything I needed. I could drift off into a book’s world instead of focusing on my disgusting, sweaty reality. I wouldn’t wish for a song to end so I could tempt myself into a little walking break. Instead, I plodded on knowing I still had 20 hours of solemn narration to go. My plight became less the angry struggle of musicians and more the slow, plodding literary depression of a Russian provincial peasant.

I am distraught to report that it worked. Slowly but surely my runs went from a passionate and enthusiastic three minutes to an hour and a half of patience. Worst of all, I looked forward to my runs so I could pick up the next installment of my little stories. It makes me sick to say this, but I’ve made a healthy change and my life has improved for the better. What sick freak does that?

There is still hope for me. I didn’t buy that cardigan that allows you to drink while running. It still feels like the fitness equivalent of the helmet to me with two beer cans and a hose in each. But in my heart I know I’ve changed. I am now a “runner”.

The other day I looked the distance away from the famous City2Surf without enthusiasm, but resigned myself to the fact that I’m the kind of person who does this sort of thing now. I used to be sure that “fun run” was an oxymoron. Now I’m signing up to get a worthless little medal to post to my Instagram feed at 7am on Saturday.

It wouldn’t be unusual to see me waddling down the road now, mile after mile. You might even think, watching me pass, that this is a natural thing for me, that I have reached that runner’s nirvana. Let me be very clear: I still hate this. Every little bit of it is hell. But if you’re going through hell, you have to keep going.

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