Reluctant Runners Series #2: Roots


Published on June 26th, 2013

My name is Sharon, and I am admittedly a very reluctant runner. Today I wanted to take just a minute to explore where all this reluctance comes from. Everything comes from somewhere, so I figure I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to be a hater when it comes to running.

My fear of spiders came from the spider egg that hatched in my room as a child (trust me people, you never want this to happen to you), my fear of dogs came from the German Shepherd across the street that decided that biting kids was more fun that eating kibbles, and my fear of mullets came from- well, if you lived through the 80’s you know what I’m talking about. Like I said- everything comes from somewhere, and right now it’s in vogue to trace it back to our childhoods, so far be it from me to let that wagon pass on by.

I was talking about running to a friend tonight who is also very reluctant, and I realized that we shared some common history- neither of our families exercised. Ever.

As I was driving home, I pondered the effect of our environment growing up on our attitudes towards fitness. I was raised in the suburbs, and while me, my sister, and my brother were expected to play outside, ride our bikes, and climb the occasional tree, I never once saw my mother, father, or extended family exercise, and nobody ever engaged in any organized sports or planned fitness activities. My parents never signed us up for Little League or soccer, or any type of team sports when we were little, and as we moved into middle school and high school, I think it never really crossed our minds to join sports teams-it just wasn’t something you did.

So I had a Sliding Doors moment, and wondered how I might have turned out if my family had been fitness oriented when I was a kid. Would I be an avid or enthusiastic runner now? Would I relish each and every step the way I now dread it? How would a different childhood experience of fitness have shaped my current outlook and feelings about running? I’ll never know, but I think about this as I decide whether to strap on those shoes each week. I’m not a parent yet, but as an aunt, a teacher, and a future parent, I ask myself-what kind of role model do I want to be?

And then I open the door, and head out for my run, because the answer is clear.

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