How did I get here?

Today I will attempt the longest run I have ever done: 14 miles. It’s not for a race, nor will there even be anyone else doing it with me. It’s just to do it. Something has recently come to my attention, however:

When I say that out loud, it sounds positively absurd.

How did I get here? How did I get to the point where running 14 miles at once sounds like a feasible idea? Since I started running just over two years ago I’ve never really thought of myself as a runner, just as a guy who happens to run. Runners are a different class of people, with their skinny legs and consistently wind-blown look, right?

And yet, here I am: running 4-5 days, and 30+ miles, per week. To deny that I have become a runner would be a delusion of the first order.

The funny thing is that it didn’t really take much to go from a guy that couldn’t do a single whole mile without slowing to a walk, to this guy. I remember the gap: when you’re working on your couch to 5K goals, the people like me seem crazy from lack of oxygen to the brain. But I was there once, too! I was! I didn’t spring out, like Athena, fully-formed and doing 10 miles at a time. I remember how devastatingly frustrating it was to finally be able to run an entire mile, only to be so wiped that I had to walk the next one or give up for the day.

I have good news: to get here, all it requires is that you don’t give up. You just keep doing what you’re doing. That’s it. You don’t have to be the fastest, or have the most endurance, or anything like that. You only need perseverance. The rest comes with time.

Two years later, you find yourself able to do half marathons. Somehow your short runs have stretched out to 10Ks, which you’re doing several times each week without thinking about it. You find that the nutrition planning that seemed so tedious two years before is now second nature. You know how many calories you burn per mile, and exactly when you need to pause for water and gels on long runs. You didn’t get here via rigorous scientific testing—it just crept up on you, making sense a little bit at a time.

Two years seems like an insane amount of time, right? Here’s the thing: I cheated. Out of those two years, I probably only ran for a total of 12 months. I live in Florida, and only crazy people run in the summer heat in Florida. So, at best, I ran 6 months at a time, with another 6 months break in between. See? I’m not so different than you—there are plenty of nights when I log off my computer, look at my shoes, and don’t go running. Hey, I did it for 6 months solid.

But each autumn I came back to it. I missed the calm of it. I missed the organization it induced in my head. Running is great for your headspace, and I probably wouldn’t be nearly as calm as I am today without it. It’s a great headspace to be in.

Like I did, all you have to do to get here is to keep putting on those shoes. Maybe not exactly on the schedule you’d like. Maybe you miss a day here and there—life happens. But you keep putting them on, and you just go with it. One day, you wake up, and you’re there.

Hey. Nice to meet you. I’m Rick. I’m a runner, and that’s okay.