How I Found My Running Zone

Katie Durkin
 Taking up the sport of running in my early 40s was weird since the only runs I’d ever been on were back in college and involved tacos, beer, and pizza.

They also involved sweating and gastrointestinal distress where you end up puking next to strangers and wanting to die. So they prepared me a little. But college runs weren’t competitive, despite the drinking games afterward, and there were very few winners.

I was preparing for a marathon and that was quite different, I told myself. I just couldn’t figure out how. Not right away. Because I was too busy trying to figure out which songs to put on my iPod. I scoped out a route where I planned to run my very first mile. I chose reliable running shoes (bought several months earlier, I’d asked the clerk for walking shoes and he looked at me the way I look at people who say “irregardless.”)

I had researched the psychology of running. The mental game runners talked, blogged, and rambledabout while everyone else rolled their eyes and talked about, you know, real life.

One of the main reasons people start running and stop shortly thereafter, cursing and limping back to the sofa, centered around this: “I was bored.”

I rejected the notion that this would happen to me. I’d survived three years of full-time motherhood with only Elmo and an over-eager washer and dryer to keep me company. Before that, in my youth, I’d attended mass every Sunday for almost eighteen years.

For work, I’d been made to endure the Republican National Convention. Don’t tell me about boring. Running outside for a while didn’t sound so bad. No one asking me to scratch his back or pluck ear hairs? No one complaining about parental locks on the computer? No one asking me to find something that is right in front of them? I was going to be fine. If I could just figure out which songs to choose, I’d actually enjoy some alone time.

I Googled “popular workout songs.”

Oh my. 

If I passed out and died, right there on the road, would I really want someone to hear Destiny’s Child coming from my headphones? I had a reputation to consider. Where was music that wouldn’t make my head bleed and explode through my ears? Where were the Beastie Boys or AC/DC? What about Bikini Kill?

Daft Punk was an insult, not motivating music. I found *my* workout songs on “Thrash and Kill” stations and laced up to go. Walking outside that early Saturday morning at the end of April, I took a deep breath, and shut my eyes.

My little muffin top was about to disappear, I just knew it. My abs would look more like a washboard inno time. My arms would resemble Linda Hamilton’s arms in Terminator 2, minus the automaticweapons. And my legs? Oh my legs. They’d inspired . . . dozens.

I turned on Back in Black and took off.

Five seconds in, I looked amazing! I felt invincible! Like some kind of goddess out impressing the planetwith spunk and feist and –


Why was I breathing heavier than a pervert on a prank call? Angus wasn’t even at his solo yet when I stopped and swatted the headphones away from my ears. I bent over and tried to breathe.

Cramps. Sore legs. Knees about to go on strike. What fresh hell was this? I caught my breath and sat down on the curb. I was sweating! A middle-aged woman has no business perspiring in public.

I willed myself to calm down. Okay, so this wasn’t going to be easy. This was going to be hard – very, very hard. I guess running was like teaching, writing, political organizing, arguing . . . 

It was like loving someone, I chuckled. It was like anything I’d ever done that was worth anything at all. A few years ago, deciding to remove the expensive vodka bottles from my oven and learning to cook, and cook well – that had been difficult. Now people no longer weep when they taste my risotto.

Friends thought parenting would finish me; that I’d eventually give in, plop the kids in front of the television, retire to a bottle of wine, and be done with the whole thing. Yet there I was, guiding my happy and well-adjusted children through their teenage years.

Running could be done; I just had to try.

No. I had to give it my all. I put my headphones back on, stood up, and finished the mile.

Head to the Front Porch


How I Found My Running Zone - Copy

 This post was written by Katie Durkin exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Katie Durkin co-parents twin sons, organizes families for political purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races, and investigates missing socks. Follow her shenanigans at Baby Teeth to Back Hair.