This week we want to thank Annalisa for allowing us to repost an excerpt of her training for the NYC Marathon previously published on Quartz.
I always hated running.
In middle school, growing up in Italy, I couldn’t pass the basic endurance test of a kilometer run (just 0.6 miles). I’d be out of breath after just 250 meters—a lap around our school’s courtyard. I was the nerdy girl who was the last to be picked for any team sport. Every single physical education class was a reminder of my unpopularity—and running was the embodiment of my athletic shortcomings.
“At the right pace, anyone can keep going for a long time,” my PE teacher would try to convince me. I just never believed that was true for me.
And yet, on Nov. 6, I ran the New York City marathon.
I decided to run the marathon mostly out of an angry, rebellious desire to prove myself wrong. Even as an adult, I still believed that I couldn’t run far—or accomplish much of anything, really. But what actually made running a marathon possible—what made me even conceive of the idea and then helped push me past all the hardships and self-doubt and weeks of training—was America.
From couch to 5K
For years—decades, really—just talking about running was a kind of Proustian madeleine. Whenever the subject came up, I’d profess that I hated the activity and was terrible at it. I felt like my early teen self, again: unimpressive, unpopular, and scared. Other things—professional goals, relationships, and body image—held a similar power over me. (Some still do.) At times, life seemed like an exhausting exercise in fending off thoughts of all the things that I am useless at.
A few years ago, when I felt like I was drowning in my own ineptitude, a wild, redemptive idea came to me out of the blue: What if I ran away from that feeling?I downloaded a couch-to-5k program. It was daunting. I lived in India at the time, and almost every day I would go to a gym inside a mall, get on the treadmill, and start my workout. Walk one minute; run 30 seconds. Then run one minute and walk one minute. Run three; walk one. Just run. Run some more. Not being able to complete a workout would often bring me to tears. But when I finally was able to run a 5k in 38 minutes (a pace known as “running backward”), I felt like I had defeated a small monster.
A year ago, that was the farthest I’d ever run. And a 5k is one thing—a marathon is quite another.
Read the rest of the story of how I became a runner, and what I learnt training, here. It features the Whippets being really fast and really nice to me: your support was so instrumental, I can’t thank you enough for that.