Run Camp

 It’s that time of year when nearly 1,000 people converge on my gym, filling the hallways, classrooms and restrooms, to spend the next few weeks honing their running skills, or for most, starting a brand new running career. They are young, old, fat, thin, male, female. Most are sporting a brand new kit of running gear from head to toe: bright neon jackets with Icebreaker wool shirts and gators sticking out at the neck; Lycra tights that still have their out of the box sheen, and pristine running shoes, with laces still lily-white and toes unstained by mud or rain. They’re loud, laughing, excited; their nervousness is palpable. They cling to their friends and offer disclaimers to the run leaders signing them in. They clutch up in the hallways and block the entrance to the gym, where I must pass through their gauntlet to get to Saturday morning spin class. They sit in the walkways, feet splayed out in fresh new SmartWool socks, begging to trip me, as I make my way past to spend the first part of my Saturday in a dark room on a bike that goes nowhere.

Last year, I hated them. I endured Saturday after Saturday wrestling my way through the rabid run campers to get to spin class. I resented them more each week. Not only were they clogging up the gym, blocking the way and taking our parking spaces, their fresh-faced enthusiasm at fever pitch, but they were running and I was not. Between years of arthritis, a bad ankle and an old hamstring tear, I didn’t think I could ever run again. Biking was going to have to be enough for me. But I watched them week after week: overweight, out of shape people caught up in the flurry with their running peers. I watched them struggle through the snow as they left the building for group runs, their spanking new shoes getting wet and dirty while they straggled along at the back of their group, some not even making it to the street before they tuckered out and walked. And, they inspired me.

So, as everyone knows who’s been reading this blog for a while, I had my own run camp. It lacked the benefit of group camaraderie, lectures from trainers and inspirational talks. But I started training and ended up a runner. Not a fast runner, not a long distance runner, but enough of a runner to satisfy that longing.

So this year, I empathize with them. They are new runners, entering into the unknown, exposing their novice skills to hundreds of others, in the quest to run a 5K, a half, or maybe even a marathon. They’re trying something new where they might fail, might get hurt, or worse, quit before they find out what they could become. Now, when I put up with the inconvenience of hundreds of runners clogging up my gym for a few weeks, it’s okay, because, now I’m one of them.

Β© Huffygirl 2013

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16 thoughts on “Run Camp

  1. A group can be intimidating or inspiring, all depends on the people and the purpose. I like running with a friend or two– rarely get out on my own- no motivation. Congrats on being part of the club!

  2. Good for you, HG. Nicely written post as well. One phrase particularly stood out for me: “[they might] quit before they find out what they could become.” It made me do a little soul-searching. I never thought of quitting quite like that.

    • Thanks and thanks Sandra. That came to me as I watched them that day, all shiny and eager, yet so afraid. Then once I saw how hard it was snowing by the time they went out to run, I realized how easily it could happen and worried for them that some might quit right then, and never become what they came there to be. After all, not everyone is geared up for running in the cold driving snow, especially for the very first time.

    • I thought so too – that loooong line of runners through the snow. I’ve actually been a fair-weather runner so far and have not yet run in the snow, though I have run in the cold. Wouldn’t it be awful to find out that I’m not tough enough for run camp?

  3. Kudos to them for sticking to it, especially in that weather, and kudos to you for being able to overlook the annoyance their numbers create. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate it!

    • You are welcome Carrie, and thanks for stopping by as well.

      As far as the run campers, I’m actually getting a little attached to them now. I worry about them while I’m running on the track above their meeting, that some of them look tired, that the snow is falling hard as they go out for their run, and that maybe there are fewer of them than there were initially in the group. Guess I’m starting to feel like their mother hen!

      • Haha! Maybe you should join the cast of The Biggest Loser. They could use a caring mother hen. I don’t watch it, but from what I’ve heard, Jillian Michaels can be pretty ruthless. πŸ™‚

      • I don’t watch it either, but I believe you are right. I started to read one of her diet and exercise books once, and quickly returned it to the library after just a few pages in, because, she is, well, just plain mean.

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