Yay you! Why Every Runner Needs a Cheerleader
The first time I ran after having a baby, I was convinced that all of my vital organs were going to drop out of my body even at 5.2 MPH on a treadmill.
It was terrible.
It had been 4 months since my midwife told me to quit running, and 6 weeks since the birth of my baby. For months, my body had been aching to move. But my body was also weird and squishy and alien-like in more ways than I can appropriately describe on this blog.
Just a few weeks later, I was back at work, sheepishly hitting the treadmill over lunch for a long series of short, slow “runs” I was embarrassed to refer to as running.
You are the Wind beneath my Wings. You are my Josh Groban.
I’m lucky to work around a group of really wonderful, encouraging humans who make the health and fitness of others a priority. I’m luckier still that a few of them became my own personal cheerleaders.
Fun fact: I’m naturally shy. I’d rather drop dead than walk into a group fitness class alone, and even running in public seemed like too much personal exposure. Wouldn’t people see me? And wouldn’t they know that I wasn’t a runner? That I was slow and weird and not cool?
You read that right.
“Are you sure I can do that?” I asked, visions of being the weakest link dancing through my head.
“DUH.” she insisted.
And she kept insisting that I was awesome, that I could do it, even as the date grew closer and I grew more and more nervous.
And I did do it, easier and faster than I anticipated, even though I had to crouch in the back of a van of strangers with my breast pump between runs (sorry, this is what life is like for a mom, okay? It’s a biological necessity).
Once we crossed the finish line, I was ready for more. I signed up for my first Half Marathon (holler, Monster Dash!), and just like the Ragnar, I DID IT. I COMPLETED THAT RUN!
In which the Cheer-Accepter Becomes the Cheerleader
A few months ago, some friends and I decided to run the New York City Half Marathon with the American Cancer Society DetermiNATION team. We’d get a short vaca to our former city, and raise money for cancer research in the name of my husband Aaron, our friends Jane, Karen, Eddie and all the other hot young people with cancer that we know (which is far too many, BTW).
Our friend Jenna was hesitant to sign up, but she did, with exactly 12 weeks of training time until race day.
“Are you sure I can do that?” she asked, over and over.
“DUH.” I insisted.
And, like so many times before, I was right.
Every step past the seven mile marker was the farthest she’d ever ran, and we crossed the finish line together. At 8 miles, I got a text from Amanda…still cheering me on, many states apart.
Just a year before the New York City half, I’d yet to take my first post-baby run, I didn’t think of myself as a runner, and I never dreamed that I’d be capable of a Ragnar or a half marathon, or that I’d be the kind of person who gets other people to join a running cult with me.
I just needed a little cheering.
Who cheers you on to the finish line? Are you anyone’s cheerleader?