Tales of a Reluctant Runner (Part 1 of 2): How a Shirt Duped me into Running

by neonconfidential


I’m a reluctant runner. You could even call me a vain runner, but I do like to run in style (see tutu above). Please don’t mistake that for running with style, because I assure you there’s no grace to my form.  I signed up for my first 10K race because I fell for the race t-shirt. It was a smart, red Nike Human Race technical shirt with your personal registration number stitched on. Since there was no way to buy the shirt, I had to sign up for the race to get it. Having never run a day in my life (except for desperately running towards my gate during “last call” for a flight at the airport), I didn’t quite comprehend what I had signed up for.

The sticky hot August evening arrived. I found myself in an electric crowd, amid a sea of red shirts in the middle of downtown Vancouver with my gold Puma kicks on – by no means a running shoe, but stylish nonetheless. The friend who I signed up with was an avid runner, and she bolted off at the start. I was left to embark on a slow shuffle. Most of the race was a blur. What I do know is my shuffle didn’t progress beyond a sloth’s slog, but it didn’t turn into a walk either. I chugged my way to the finish line, and it dawned on me that I might just be able to get into this running thing.

That year, I subsequently signed up for more 10K races. To my chagrin, the race swag didn’t get more glamorous. There was nothing that would have caught the eye of a non-runner like the Nike Human Race shirt first did. I ran sporadically in between these races, but by no means did I follow a formal training program. It didn’t take long before the idea of running lost its luster.

What finally sealed my running fate was the job I had at the time organized an informal “running club” after work. It was awful. Not only could I barely keep up for a 30 minute jog, the act of running as a group intimidated me. I was too focused on trying to “keep it together” that it was all I could do from completely falling apart. The thought of holding a conversation whilst trying to keep pace was completely foreign. The whole idea was the opposite of “team building” or “morale boosting”. Shortly after, I left the job, and I was just grateful not to have to run with a group of people. With that, I closed my first running chapter. My running shoes, along with my Nike Human Race shirt were retired to the back of my closet for a 3 year hiatus.