We came together in a circle on the seawall. It was a Tuesday morning in March and the sun wasn’t up yet. Vancouver was still holding on to the ends of winter. It was cold.
Running hurts my knees.
I don’t have time to run.
I’m not a morning person.
The seawall at 7 a.m. - still kinda dark
Each person spoke and we went around the circle until every one of us had laid out our nasty, invented, but very real excuses. And this is how the inaugural meeting of the No Excuses Run Club began.
A few weeks earlier, our CEO Christine had posted an invitation to all employees to join her on the seawall and learn to run. Bring your excuses, it said. I RSVPed on a whim. The next day, full of memories about 12-minute runs around the track in high school, I was full of regret. What have I done? I thought. I don’t run.
And it’s true. Until the No Excuses Run Club, I hadn’t ran. Walking, hiking, cycling and yoga were my movements of choice. I thought that the peace I found on my mat could never be replicated by lacing up sneakers and pounding my feet on pavement. Running looked painful.
Paula stretching it out after a run.
On the first day of run club after all excuses had been revealed, our run coach Garry led our group through a mix of running and walking intervals. As we wound our way around the seawall, the sun rose over the North Shore mountains and runners of all levels passed us in both directions. Some of them said good morning or nodded; others did not. I started to feel a twinge of something familiar, something I usually feel after a yoga class: a sense of community.
For the next two months we met rain or shine, and “no excuses” became my mantra when my alarm went off and I considered sleeping for an extra hour instead of heading out into the early morning.
Post-run stretching in the rain. Rain = no excuse.
In April, the No Excuses Run Club signed up for our first run: the 5 km Earth Run at Jericho Beach. It was my first run ever and I was extremely nervous the day before, fretting over what to eat and drink (but not what to wear! ;)), so that I could have the best run ever the next day. But as I ran along the pathway with all the other runners, I realized I had fretted for nothing. This run wasn’t about time, racing, or personal bests. Everyone was there together, for a common purpose. And I felt it again: community.
No Excuses Run Club member, Randy, at the Earth Run finish line!
It’s now June, and the No Excuses Run Club still meets weekly on the seawall, where Garry leads us on different routes around the area with increasingly longer intervals. Do I still wake up and think about choosing my bed over running? Yes. But something gets me dressed and out the door, bed head and all. Will I ever be a marathon runner? Probably not. But I am beginning to understand why people run. I like the feeling of my body being pushed to its maximum potential and finding my edge -- the same edge we experiment with in yoga class. As for my original excuse: is running painful? I've learned that some days are easier than others, but that if you feel pain when running, you're doing something wrong. And good run or bad run, I always feel amazing for the rest of the day.
The No Excuses Run Club. We're hard to miss.
Thank you to Christine for inviting us to run, Garry for leading us through the good times and the bad, and everyone that's run with us for shared words of encouragement, early morning jokes, and lots of high-fives.
I challenge you to invite someone in your life to a yoga class, on a run, or to wherever it is you find happiness. You can change someone’s life with an invitation, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
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