I Didn’t Know Life’s Secret Before I Was a Runner
By: Andee Scarantino
(4 min read)
When I was a new runner, I was guilty of saying to more experienced runners the line, “Well, I know this is nothing to YOU, but I ran 2 miles today!”
Every time, I was met with a stern, “Stop that. That’s a BIG DEAL.”
Now, new runners speak to me that way! And what’s shocking is they always LEAD WITH THAT!
“Andee, I ran a mile today. I know that’s nothing to YOU!”
“Stop! That’s a big deal!”
Doesn’t that surprise you? That in our lives, we are trained to lead in conversation with our perceived inadequacy. I did it, for years, about everything.
And then I became a runner, and every single solitary step I took was celebrated. Our sport celebrates every effort. Every. Effort.
It is frowned upon not to celebrate yourself and others. We celebrate the “back of the pack” more often than we do anyone else. They are the most inspiring people.
A friend of mine was a first-time marathoner in the New York City Marathon this year. She was in the last wave, which started at almost noon. (This is the worst possible time to start a race because it’s the hottest time of day. That day was also unseasonably warm with a high of 75 and humid, potentially dangerous conditions for marathon running.)
After six hours, thirty minutes from the last wave start, the live tracking map on the marathon app goes away. This is because the roads’ RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) checkpoints begin to be removed. A “sweep bus” collects the water stations, cleans the streets, and reopens them slowly to traffic. At that time, runners have an opportunity to drop out, and many do.
New York City leaves the finish line up until (I think) midnight, allowing runners to finish. I was tracking my friend at that time, and I was left in the dark about her progress. I sent her a message, but it went unanswered. Her last check-in was 18.6 miles.
After a lot of dead air on the app, I was SO excited to be notified that she had finished. She did not drop out when MANY other runners did. She kept going. She put one foot in front of the other and finished the race.
And that was beautiful and amazing. What an accomplishment. I am so proud of her.
Our sport celebrates every person. If you show up, we celebrate you. We do not require you to WIN THE RACE or wow us with some obscene accomplishment at the outset for us to tell you that you are Hercules.
Unlike so many other things in life where someone is trying to sell you a bill of goods that “there are three easy steps to doing this,” we acknowledge there are not. We acknowledge that it’s hard! Because EVERYTHING IS HARD!
Nothing is easy without time, persistence, and showing up. And we celebrate everyone for every step they take in that journey.
It took me years for my body to do what it does. For example, my pores did not produce sweat when I was a new runner. (I used to get beat red, and my heart rate would skyrocket to about 180 bpm.). It took me three summers of heat training to not feel sick doing long runs. I used to have to do them at night because I couldn’t cool myself efficiently.
It took years of building the muscles in my body for it to require the amount of fuel it does. Yes, at this point in my life, I can take a day to be completely sedentary, and the body I’ve built still burns about 2,200 calories; if I’m active, 2,500-3,000. That is a privilege I have that took years to acquire. Yes, I can run 20+ miles while chit-chatting. That took thousands of miles of training and effort.
Runners don’t sugarcoat that the running economy’s chemical and biological processes take time, so we don’t shit on a person for where they are at this moment. We celebrate them.
THEY ARE OUT, doing the damn thing. They are out while many are home. They are running for themselves, their spirit, and their soul. Many run for loved ones who are either sick or have passed on. Many run for charity. Many run for mental health.
They are warriors, and we support them.
Everything in your life takes time, persistence, and showing up. Everything. It is disrespectful to other people and yourself not to honor the place you’re at.
Had I not been a distance runner and had the experience of being celebrated for my process, I might not have stayed in business. Business is the same kind of “hard.”
If I weren’t a distance runner, I’d not have seen the immediate gratification and given up. I’d have allowed “the three easy steps to-” or how to “scale to 80 billion dollars in six weeks” ads to fool me.
But I know better. There’s no Slimfast version of helping people transform their lives or improve their growth. It takes a massive “why,” inspiration (either external or internal), rote monotony, and a ton of inner work that is an absolute non-negotiable.
You need it all. Thump thump. One foot in front of the other. Most of all, though, celebrate where you are now because there is only now.
Run the mile you’re in, literally or metaphorically. Learning to celebrate yourself through it is a game changer.