That's it. No more. I've decided a clean break is for the best. Like a failed relationship, I've experienced the anger, the sorrow, the resignation, and now accept there's no going back. I'm never going to be a runner.
At first, I felt like a bit of a failure - like someone who never made it into an exclusive club, an inner sanctum of 10k-ers, half-marathon-ers and even people who've successfully managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other for that sacred 26.2 miles of a full marathon.
It's not for lack of motivation or desire. I'm not particularly unfit. I regularly walk 4-5 kilometres (up to 3 miles) on a bad day and cover this distance at least 4 times a week. What many would call a "leisurely stroll" is a crawl to me. Over the years, I've been told many times to "slow down" when walking alongside someone. My natural pace is so brisk that it even puts some people off accompanying me (I put my speed walking down to a general character flaw - impatience). Most of the time when I have to decrease my natural pace, it feels like torture - my gait is altered (though probably just in my head) and I feel as if I'm walking in slow-motion like in the movies (definitely in my head).
Of course, walking isn't the same as running and being good at one is no guarantee of being good at the other. But I give this information just to indicate that I'm not generally lazy or resistant to activity. I can hill climb in a spinning class and dead lift in body pump with the best of them. It's just running that's defeated me.
For years, even when I used to go to spin class pretty much everyday religiously, my retort to people who talked to me about running was "I get angry even if I have to run for the bus". But last November, I tried to turn over a new leaf, to free my mind and allow myself to enjoy all these wonderful benefits running fans regaled me with. Truth be told, I also wanted to shift a few pounds.
So, I diligently began running at least 6 mornings a week, getting up at 5.45am to pound the pavements and then work my way around the local park. When it got too cold, I moved to the treadmill. The longest amount of time I ever managed was 1 hour and 10 minutes, the furthest distance 8km. I tried interval training, running different routes, the same route, different times of the day.
And I hated every minute. No my mind wasn't free to run wild - I was mind-numbingly bored and clock-watching, wondering how what I was certain was 5 minutes was actually only about 2 minutes 38 seconds.
I don't care that there are no barriers to entry and everyone can join in - that's the same for countless other cheap exercises when you can't afford the gym like a fitness video, skipping rope or a kettle ball.
No, I don't enjoying dreading a hard session, then feeling elated after I've "nailed it" - it's the same kind of stress and panic I can get at the office or through the academic achievements I'm still working on.
No, I didn't feel upset about having to miss a run - I felt guilty; so much so that I ran with an injured back and ended up with a herniated disc that put me out of action for 3 weeks.
My belly didn't get flatter - my problem has always been one of the dreaded love handle rather than protrusion.
And lastly, but most importantly, no running didn't make me any happier.
When my chest hurt (rather than my legs as described by my runner friends), I turned to Google to see if I'm abnormal and what I could do to overcome this problem. But it was reading this blog about walking the London Marathon that finally allowed me to just be free, to throw in the towel with no shame or regret. It helped me see the benefits of walking, to be thankful that I'll (hopefully) avoid the injuries associated with running.
So, as I continue to like my friends' Facebook posts on how they've just completed another charity 10k or local half-marathon, their pictures of smiling faces and those numbered thingies they give you to put on your T-shirt, I can finally accept that that won't be me one day. It's okay not to like running.