|Shades Creek Greenway a.k.a Lakeshore Running Trail|
"Bend your knees more and stay light on your feet," she says. "Relax your arms a bit."
I whisper her instructions to myself in an attempt to etch them into my muscles and my mind.
It's a Saturday morning and I've been up since 6:15 a.m., sacrificing sleep for the chance to get a step closer to finally feeling like a real runner.
Thanks to the Birmingham chapter of Black Girls RUN, I can finally say the words, "I'm meeting my running group," which I did for the first time this past weekend. One of the group organizers, Olivia, was kind enough to work one-on-one with me Saturday, helping me improve my stride and giving me tips on how to run up and down hills, and teaching me that slow and steady really does win the race.
I spent many mornings this summer, before the Alabama heat became unbearable, pounding the pavement of the Lakeshore Running Trail, one of my favorite places in
town the world and surprisingly I've learned lessons about life and about writing along the way.
I can do this. I've never been much of a runner. Sure, I can out dance you in a hip-hop aerobics class, but I've never had a gazelle-like run and I'm as slow as Christmas. I even have a doctor’s excuse for not running thanks to a connective tissue disease I was diagnosed with in 2008. But one day while walking beneath the beautiful canopy of trees that covers much of the path at my favorite trail, I simply decided to run. And just as I can run despite achy joints (and bad shoes) I can make my writing dreams come true despite the dismal stats on the success of blogs and the sad state of journalism. I can do this.
Stay in your lane. Most folks know the basic and most important rule of a running trail: stay to the right and pass on the left. But the phrase “stay in your lane” means much more to me. It reminds me to stop comparing myself to others, to not worry about the cute blonde in the cute sports bra with the perfect abs and perfect stride. Likewise, I need to stop eyeing another blogging babe's number of page views, followers, and unique visitors; stop envying another woman writer's book deal. As I run the path I’m on, one that I hope is leading me to the life I want to one day live, I must be careful not to get off track by coveting someone else’s pace.
Believe in the buddy system. Thanks to Olivia and my new running group, on Saturday I pushed myself as I never had before at the trail. My running partner is usually my pink iPod Nano and with it I typically walk for one song, run for one song, repeat. But on Saturday we ran for three minutes and only walked for one. I worried I wouldn’t be able to keep going with such a brief recovery time. But I was wrong. I did it! Or I should say, we did it, because I never would have tried had it not been for my new running buddies. Writing, even blogging, can be a solitary endeavor, but it's important to build community. That's why I started See Jane Write and that's why I hope to create an online community for fellow writers here on this new blog.
Breathe and keep going. When I started running I was convinced I needed walk breaks every 60 seconds. Then one day Madonna’s hit “4 Minutes” came on my hopelessly girly music device and I decided I’d try to run for the entire track (which is, cleverly, four minutes long). I did it. And one day I ran for seven minutes without a walk break, and then nine. When I’m running there’s usually a moment when I want to stop and walk, but then I tell myself to just breathe and keep going. Sometimes I get fed up with writing because Georgia Mae's readership isn't growing fast enough, my freelance gigs aren't paying enough, and I can't seem to write a book to save my life. Then I remember to just breathe and keep going.