Back on the Pavement

I signed up for a 5k recently. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s the most I will have run (assuming I run it all) in about two years.

I’ve never been a good runner and will never be fast, even if I somehow could switch bodies with Kara Goucher, but I was consistent, and persistent, going from barely being able to walk after a back injury (L5, I hate you) to the NYC Marathon in 2013. For 7 or so years, I ran.

And then, over the next post-marathon year, I stopped. Not because I was injured, or some other “honorable” reason.

I stopped in part because I couldn’t face another training schedule.

In part because of an unexpectedly stressful new job. In part, honestly, because it felt nice to have more free time. Slowly, gradually, skipping runs until I wasn’t running, and until I couldn’t pretend I was. And until it was two years later since I’d run consistently, much less long. (To say nothing of how things fit.)

Enter August 2016.

Cheered/extorted by running friends, about two weeks ago I signed up for the Shoes4Africa fun run in September and laced up sneakers. I barely managed one mile, at a pace that was barely above walking.

There’s the added shame in restarting running after you’ve stopped for a long time, going from a point where 10ks barely counted as a run to one where one slow mile utterly kicks your ass. And that can stop you from restarting. And had in the past. But this time, despite that, despite the heat, I was happy.

Because I missed running. Jogging. Whatever. As bad and painful and just embarrassing as the runs these last couple of weeks have been, afterwards I’m happy I went out there, one step after another.

Running gives you mental space, not because you can’t think about other things during a run, like in martial arts or rock climbing, but because in fact that continuous repetition of one foot then the next then the next makes you think. And then makes you not think. And you’re better for it.

The 5k is next week. It will be slow and ugly, and will hurt, as will all my runs for the next few months. But it’s a start, and I’m glad to be back after too long. I’m remembering that I like running.

I found this ace of spades on this morning’s run. I’m taking it as an omen, especially as I’m in for NYC next year.



Diana Gill just joined Tor Books as an Executive Editor, after working at HarperCollins and Penguin Random House. She’s restarting running after way too long, after getting a lottery entry to the NYC marathon.