"Begin running" - how does someone start doing something your body was designed to do? I ran as a kid, usually in the form of playing horses or playing tag. I routinely won the 50 yard dash in grade school until the rest of the kids started catching up with my height and my long legs were no longer an advantage. I never considered myself a "runner"; I was always an "equestrian" (that makes me sound like I associated with Mit Romney, but no) and a "swimmer", but never a "runner".
The truth is, I was afraid of running. I had/have asthma, so I was often really afraid of having an asthma attack and tragically dying on a running track, which no thank you. I was also afraid of looking stupid, what with my gawky, stick-like, androgynous body and my inability to move efficiently. And I was that gem of a person who didn't want to do something I couldn't succeed at, and thus, did not bother with running.
In list form, my reasons for not running when I was growing up:
1. I was afraid I would die.
2. I was afraid of looking like a dork.
3. I didn't think I could win and therefore it was beneath me.
I was a jerk growing up. A bony, people-pleasing, lovable jerk.
However, life did its thing, and I became less jerk-like and more human-like, and at some point I started feeling a very small, very faint desire to run. Maybe I was looking for some way to set goals and train after selling my horse and giving up on the Olympics (really, I didn't associate with Mit Romney), or find some form of exercise that offered more opportunities and options than swimming. Maybe I really wanted a runner's body and those well-defined, muscular hamstrings - which is a weird thing, but it is a thing.
And, predictably, the seed finally sprouted. It was probably thanks to some people I no longer have in my life - people who frustrated me, who told me negative things about myself, and who said one true thing: that I was too afraid. Their voices cemented into my own internal voice, and I was carrying this cement block with me, until I couldn't anymore. Until I was finally ready to drop it and prove I wasn't afraid anymore. I wanted to show them I was a better and stronger person than they thought, and I wanted to prove to myself I was strong enough to do this thing that scared and intimidated me.
My first run lasted for about a minute and a half, and I kid you not, I felt like I had run a marathon. Very rarely are there actual moments in life when you know something has changed, but in that minute and a half, I knew my life was forever transformed. And it has, in a million different little, immeasurable and significant ways.