What is it that makes someone go for a run, then another, and another? An athletic family or a deep love for the Olympics can be reasons, but I know for a fact that’s not what drove my sister outside.
Dorine van Hoogstraten is an arts and architecture historian, and a mother of two little angels. After lacing up her new Sauconys she has been exploring the roads and trails near her home in Amstelveen (the Netherlands) since this spring. That’s great news to me, her running brother. But it does make me wonder: why? Why now?
We have gone for runs together, but not recently. As I’m still recovering from my foot injury, I decided to interview my sister for my Dutch running column.
Diederik: Why did you start? As you know, I was a bit surprised.
Dorine: Well, for over a year I had been part of a group of mothers working out together. A young physical therapist, Maaike, was training us. 45 minutes of cardio-vascular work, 45 minutes of core and strength excercises, and 15 minutes of chatting. I had lost about 15 pounds at that point, a good start. In april, the weather turned gorgeous and we decided to work out outside. I wasn’t sure what do do there, but a reliable source had told me that running was so wonderful and great, so I decided to give it a chance. Maaike gave us a schedule. Slowly but surely, my shape and form started to improve, and I started to really enjoy running. I kept losing weight, too; I dropped another 10 pounds. That was a wonderfully light feeling, both physically and mentally.
Diederik: How did you get over the feeling of ‘I can never do that’?
Dorine: Thanks to the reliable source I mentioned: your book. Also, I had already lost some weight. I would never have started at my old weight. I was afraid of hurting my joints.
Diederik: How does is feel to be a runner?
Dorine: Nice. Especially when I travel. But near my home I’m also rediscovering the land. The sunrise in the polder.The moon over the Arena Stadium in the distance. Frogs and hares jumping out of the way. A cat leaving a mouse alone because you approach. The change of the seasons. Rain drops on your nose. There’s so much to see and feel around the corner. And how about the feeling, I sometimes get it after about one kilometer – the feeling that I could go on forever? Is that the famous runner’s high? I realize is total self deception, but a good feeling nonetheless.
Then there’s this. I have a 3-year-old girl who sometimes checks me out in my running clothes, concluding: ‘Okay mom, you go for a nice run now. Bye bye!’
Diederik: What are the most important results of running regularly?
Dorine: I’m in much better shape. My self-image has improved. My figure, too, meaning you get lots of compliments! Running is a fun way to spend time, so much better than watching TV. But I do feel that my body is having trouble adjusting to such an athletic life style. I’ve been quite active in the past, with jazz ballet, aerobics, crew rowing, tennis, steps, bicycling and yoga. But running demands different things, and I feel it puts some new strains on my legs and feet.
Diederik: What’s your goal in running?
Dorine: I’d like to keep doing this long term. It’s so easy to do, and feels so good. Where ever you are, just grab your running shoes and running bra, and off you go. I see much more of a place, I think or stop thinking, listen to music and release stress. It would be nice to run 10 kilometers nonstop, but the continuity in running itself, two or three times a week, is really what matters to me. I don’t really care if it’s 5, 10 or 42 kilometers right now. Too many other things matter to me: kids, work, friends, family. I don’t want any pressure within this cool new sport. The goal is simply doing it.
Diederik: Does running help you discover things about yourself?
Dorine: To realize I am able to run and enjoying it, that’s a huge discovery. Running used to represent pain, exhaustion and despair to me. Thanks to you and my PT, Maaike, I now know that running is a good sport for me, as well.
Diederik: What would you tell people who can never, ever imagine running?
Dorine: I really think it’s a good way to be active for many people. It’s so easy to do. Even if you go out for fifteen minutes, walking half that time – you will feel like you really did some good work. I have often felt jealous of runners, of people who liked running. I could always imagine running was nice, if only you could like doing it.
Let me put it this way: if I can learn to run well in three months, lots of people can. But it’s like quitting smoking. There’s only one person who can convince you to do it, and that’s you. Just think how good it feels when you do.