In the last few years I have noticed a very disheartening attitude that seems to float around some communities the first few weeks of January. There is a scoffing, turned up nose type of attitude that some folks take on that I find a bit repugnant. This attitude is best illustrated in some of the chatter I hear regarding the gym. More specifically, the heavier than average traffic flow at the gym.
Monday was my first day back at my for real job (working at the store and posting things on facebook is my play job). The day was long, the kids were loud, and I had forgotten what it was like to wake up to an alarm clock. By about lunchtime I was feeling fried and knew I’d need a break that day. When I saw that my gym had a yoga class that night, I asked my husband if he could pick up our son from cub scouts, and made plans to make a date with myself to shake off some of this back to work nonsense.
I had forgotten the date. I had forgotten all about things like resolutions, and how so many people tend to take this time of year, with all their good feelings from the holidays and the support of friends and families, to embark on a quest to better themselves in some way. When I walked into the gym, I remembered.
There were folks milling about the information desk, waiting to meet with the membership folks and get tours of the facilities. The day care you pass as soon as you come in was absolutely over loaded with sprinting children, and it took about 15 attempts at opening lockers to find one that was empty. All the while I thought to myself, “this is great.”
People like to complain. We like to gripe about there not being enough parking spaces, about there not being open lockers. I hear people making fun of others because they are using the equipment incorrectly. Walking out I even heard one man say to another, “I can’t wait until February when they are all gone.”
Now, of course, I don’t LIKE struggling to find a locker. It would be great if I never had to wait for a treadmill. I am more than happy, however, to make space for anyone who is ready to try to be a version of them self that makes them happier. I am not suggesting that weighing less, participating in certain sports or having a certain type of body should make anyone happier; I just know that I am happier with myself when I run, regardless of my weight at the time.
Due to my midday brain being less than stellar, I misread the class info. It started at 7:30, and I had made sure to get there early for the 7pm start. Now I found myself with 45 minutes to kill, which was perfect because I had missed a run over the weekend and had some mileage I wanted to make up. I walked up and down the many rows, but there was not a single treadmill to be found.
I settled on rowing instead, and while I rowed I thought about what it was like when I first started running. How hard it was, and how much I wanted to quit. I remember going into my first 5k feeling like it was an insurmountable challenge to actually run for three whole miles in a row! I remember that race vividly. I remember how badly I wanted to stop and walk around mile 2.5 and how insanely proud I was of my finish time – which for the record was 37 minutes and 11 seconds. In the five years since I’ve shaved 14 minutes off that time, finished two full marathons, five Tough Mudders, a handful of half marathons, and trained over 50 kids to run their first 5k. I’ve come a long way to become the “runner” I am today, but I started out just like one of those folks who may have been getting on that treadmill for the first time this week.
If you are reading this and are a runner, gym rat, or athlete of any kind – I challenge you to drop your cynicism this January. Be a voice of encouragement, not just another hurdle for these new runners to overcome. Remember that it was new to you once too, and think about how far you have come. And if you are a new runner, or a runner trying to get back into it – come see me at Metro Run & Walk or shoot me a line on facebook when the going gets tough. I believe in you, and I’m proud to have you as part of our community!