By Brieanna Knepper
I used to dread having to run the mile in school. I would be worried about it for days ahead of time and faked being sick a few times to avoid it. I was a terrible runner. I remember being made fun of and kids would tell me I looked like a T-Rex when I ran. (T-Rex was king of the dinosaurs sooo complement right??) I would always be one of the last to finish and unfortunately that meant my entire class got the opportunity to watch me huff and puff my way to the finish line. Not fun.
Fast forward to today and I am still not a runner. I get super self conscious about my body and the way it looks bouncing down the pavement. Plus I worry that people might hear my heavy breathing as I pass them. Over thinking is my super power! I started walking during this social distancing period to help with my anxiety and it has been a tremendous help. I enjoy being out in the fresh air and moving helps keep my mind calm.
One day as I was going for my walk there was a woman running. She passed me probably 10 times as I went along my path. She would say hello each time and make a funny joke about meeting again. At one point she said that she was at mile 11! There was something about seeing her running free that resonated with me. I wanted to feel that freedom, but immediately my insecurities popped up. “You are too big to run”. “People would laugh you”. “You couldn’t run 10 feet let alone 10 miles”. I instantly talked myself out of trying. I finished my walk and headed home.
The thought of running didn’t leave me right away though. I felt bad about letting my insecurities win, so I decided that I would give it a try during my next walk. I made a new playlist, laced up my shoes, and hit the road. I started walking and working my way up to the idea of running. I was trying to talk myself into it and finally just said “RUN!”. I took a deep breath and started jogging. It wasn’t fast by any means and probably looked more like an awkward power walk, but I was doing it.
I had been going for a few minutes when I saw someone down the road. I immediately went back to walking. I ignored the little voice in my head and reminded myself to be brave. I’m doing this for me not anyone else! I picked up the pace again and jogged right past them. They didn’t bust out laughing or stop and stare like I imagined. They just gave a little wave and went on their way. It was almost like they weren’t completely focused on every move I made! Shocking! I think our brains are wired to make us think that every person around us is looking at us with a microscope. The truth is, I probably wasn’t more than a quick glance and a polite acknowledgement to that person.
I continued my jog until I felt the need to slow down. I went the rest of the way trading off between running and walking. I probably walked more than ran, but it still felt amazing. When I was done my body felt charged yet tired, like I had really pushed myself. I was so proud of myself for not letting the insecurities take over. I wasn’t great, but at least I tried.
I did something that I hadn’t done since I was a kid because I was afraid of people laughing at me. I pushed past what I thought I was capable of and found out that I could do more than I thought possible. I could have just walked past everyone I saw because I was embarrassed, but I didn’t. I get so caught up in worrying about what someone is going to think about me. I’m really trying to let go of that fear and not let it control my life. It isn’t easy and I will probably have to remind myself to be brave when I feel like cowering down. When I feel like giving in or giving up I will think back on how this T-Rex stood proud and kept running. 😉