I Just Decided To Be A “Runner”

Woman resting after a run

Hawaii made me want to be a runner. Well, more specifically, the friends I made there did. By the time I landed at the Kona airport, they had already spent three days circumnavigating the humid, rain-soaked, lava-belching island on foot.

Woman resting on tree brand in Hawaii

What is easy is usually simple, but what’s simple is not always easy.

One person would finish a six-mile leg and then another would start, until all 13 people had had a turn, then they’d start the cycle all over again. Running had brought them together and given them a common thread to unravel, and they wove it into a tightly knit community. Community, fitness, and an excuse for adventure. I knew immediately I wanted to become a runner.

Running is simple. One foot in front of the other, over and over. You don’t even need shoes. What is easy is usually simple, but what’s simple is not always easy. And running? That does not happen easily for me

I hate* running. (* I was actually going to write an entire essay about how much I hate running, but Brendan beat me to it—you’re welcome, posterity.) 

Woman laying on tree brand in Hawaii

I’ve tried to trick myself into believing I’m a runner with ‘90s hip-hop playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, and this one app that convinces you you’re being chased by zombies. I’ve tried treadmills, trails, and asphalt, expensive sneakers and none at all. One time I pretended I was Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park (must go faster). Then one of my new friends gifted me this nugget of wisdom: “You don’t have to love running to run. You can just do it.”

TomTom Adventurer Watch

Instead of overthinking how I felt about running, I’d just start running and see how it made me feel instead. 

Maybe I just needed to give myself permission to dislike running instead of trying to force this proverbial square-in-hole relationship I’d been having with it.

Instead of overthinking how I felt about running, I’d just start running and see how it made me feel instead.

I set the only benchmark I had at the time as my goal: six miles. Eventually I want to be running six miles a day, but for now I’m tracking any activity that gets me to that number. TomTom even sent me their new Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch to help me track my daily, weekly, and monthly progress (it’s a fitness tracker that has sports modes to capture hiking, skiing, cycling and running, as well as altitude, vertical drop, distance, gradient, pace, heart rate, and route tracking).

Woman standing in Oru Kayak

The first day of my new goal, I set my watch to “Trail Running,” and was prompted to “Get Going.” I ran down a small mountain, across a beach, up another mountain, and the repeated the entire sequence in reverse. I promptly spent the next ten minutes dry heaving in the parking lot, dripping in sweat, before I drove to buy myself ice cream as a reward.

woman crossing river Big Island

Here’s the thing about goals: mastering them takes time. So, I took a much gentler approach to achieving mine in the weeks that followed. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit, but every time I hear my watch chime and congratulate me for reaching my six-mile activity quota for the day, I know my habit is already being cemented in place.

woman wearing TomTom Adventurer watch Hawaii

I think I still hate running, but I don’t hate everything about running anymore. I love the idea I’m becoming part of a community. I love that I can run a trail instead of hiking it, covering more ground while still moving under my own power source.

Woman in Thurston Lava Tube entrance

Sometimes I feel great after I run. Other times I feel like shit. Running may never be easy for me, but does it matter? In the end, it’s just one foot in front of the other, over and over until I get where I’m going,  simple as that. I may not like running, but I sure as hell get my runs done. So, hold onto your butts…I think I’m going to call myself a runner.


Written in Partnership with TomTom

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This post was created in partnership with TomTom as part of the #GoingFor66 campaign. If you’re interested in supporting or working with Dirtbag Darling, please visit our Contact Page

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