Almost two years ago, sometimes in July 2011, on a hot summer morning, here I am, on an alley in one of the biggest parks in Bucharest, all dressed up and geared up, ready to pick up running again. I have told myself so many times that I will start running and never actually did it, that I almost stopped believed this myself. Somehow, though, as part of a bigger challenge, here I am, on a beautiful morning, my iPhone attached on the arm, with a running app fired up, ready to record my first race. Ready to pick up running. To become a runner.
And here I go. One leg in front of the other, a bit leaned forward, breathing, balancing my arms back and forth. And, after these first sensations, I don’t remember anything. All I remember is that, 300 meters later, I stopped, almost choking, my head on the verge of exploding, my heart beating like a hammer and my lungs trying to escape my body, in a desperate attempt to get some more air.
300 meters. That’s how far I got. 300 meters and I literally thought I will throw up. I will always remember how bad I felt, not only on the physical level, but mentally, realizing that 300 meters is such an incredibly long distance. I crawled for 100 meters more and then tried again. Another 300 meters. This time, it felt better. A little bit better. My head was still hurting, my heart was beating wildly, but at least I was able to kinda breathe in and out.
From that moment on, things started to improve. But the first race, that 300 meters race on a July 2011 morning, well, that is a race I will never forget.
I may forget my first official competition as a runner, although I even won a medal, for the second place. I may even forget some of the sensations I experienced during my first marathon, but I will never, ever forget how bad it was when I started to run.
The Most Difficult Step In A Journey
It’s the first step. It’s always the first step. And it’s the most difficult for a reason.
That first step will dislocate a part of the Universe that was solidified. It will violently break up the current order. It will tear up old habits, old patterns, old frozen paths.
And that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. It’s almost as difficult as carving a path on a rocky mountain with your bear hands. It will get bloody.
Many people don’t even take that first step. It hurts too much. The current order of the Universe is so cosy and comfortable that they don’t see any reason whatsoever to challenge it. The effort will be overwhelming.
And yet, without that first step, you’ll get stuck. You won’t go anywhere, you won’t feel anything new, you won’t experience any new taste whatsoever. You’ll just sit there, immobile as a statue. And statues, we all know, despite their surprising similarity in shape and appearance with human beings, are actually dead.
It Will Only Get Better
I experienced many variations of pain and many types of setbacks in my running routine, during the last 2 years. During the marathon I even surprised myself bleeding. I had injuries that kept me away from running for weeks or months. But none of these variations of pain, none of these setbacks felt so incredibly powerful like my first 300 meters race.
The first attempt to do something will always be clumsy and painful and, more often than not, ridiculous, just as I was ridiculous standing there, in that park, half leaned forward, choking, with a red face and all covered in sweat, being the target of all the practical jokes of little kids.
The trick is that, from that moment on, it will only get better.