The Longest Mile

John Bingham is an American Marathon runner and believes the goal of running races should be to have fun and to finish, no matter how fast or slow you go.
John Bingham is an American Marathon runner and believes the goal of running races should be to have fun and to finish, no matter how fast or slow you go.

Every year in gym class, I dreaded the awful day when we’d have to run the mile. It was part of the curriculum and there was no way around it (except with a medical excuse, which thanks to my general clumsiness and penchant for doing stupid things like sliding down bannisters, I managed to get a couple of times). But when that day came my senior year of high school, there was no getting out of it. I had wasted my medical excuses, both real and fraudulent, and the gym teachers had become wise to my excuses. I couldn’t afford to skip any more classes, and so it was settled. I had to run the mile. It felt more like walking the plank.

That dreaded day rolled around and out I walked to the track with the rest of my class. We lined up and set off. I ran for probably ten seconds before I had to walk. As I intermittently ran and walked, other kids started lapping me and before I knew it, nearly everyone was done. I remember apologizing to my gym teachers for making them stay out longer because I couldn’t do it fast enough; I was ashamed of wasting their time with my inability to do something that everyone else could. I can’t remember if I was the last person to finish that day, but I’ll never forget the way it made me feel: fat, tired, sad, angry, disgusted, and alone.

Many years passed between then and now; I had times when I’d work out on and off, lose some weight and gain it back. But when I began my ultimate weight loss journey in 2011, it was very important to me to learn to run. I had to expunge those feelings from my life. I had to get rid of the guilt and shame of not being able to run a mile. I had to run away from that girl, left alone on the track with no other classmates because they were all so far ahead and she was so far behind. Those memories were a heavy burden on my mind for all of those years. So, I decided to learn how to run.

First, I began walking. I’d walk to the end of my road and back a few times a week, which is approximately two miles. Gradually, I’d start running down the hills. The extra momentum gave me a boost and I’d feel like I was flying. After a few weeks of that, I’d add in ten seconds of jogging every few minutes, then work up to jogging for a minute every five minutes. Eventually I worked my way up to intervals with a 1:1 ratio of walking and jogging. Then, I’d go for two minutes straight. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Thirty minutes. I just kept pushing myself to see how much I could do. Now, I can run for over an hour without stopping. I run approximately 6 days a week and I’m doing my first 10K next month. For me, running has become therapy for my body and soul. I have learned how much my body is capable of, and it brings me pride every day.

I may never forget the way I felt that day, but maybe that’s for the best. I know I’ll never go back to that because I’m not that person anymore. Last year, I ran 614.18 miles. This year, as of April 21st, I’ve run 284.17 miles, and these numbers don’t include any of my other cardio or strength training workouts. I’m so proud of how far I’ve gone, literally and figuratively. Part of me wishes I could go back in time and tell that girl at the track who couldn’t run a mile that one day she’d be a runner. I know I had it in me even back then, it just took me a while to get where I needed to be. Honestly, I can’t say I wish it happened sooner, because I’ve come to believe that everything happens exactly when it’s supposed to. You need to walk before you can run, but once you get going, never stop running towards what you want to achieve.

Courtney Wienslaw

My blog chronicles my 90-pound weight loss transformation and encourages people to live a healthy, happy, fit, and balanced lifestyle.

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A Firework in Progress Copyright 2017
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