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I have a knack for languages. I started life in Holland, so spoke Dutch as a young child. Then my family immigrated to Canada so I became bilingual for many years with English, though we spoke less Dutch as the years went on. In Canada, French is a mandatory subject throughout grade school and while the biggest emphasis was on grammar (anyone remember why we had to remember the name “Mrs. Vandertramp”?), I certainly knew enough francais to be conversant, read, and write. Then, in high school, I studied German, was an exchange student to Germany, and became fully fluent.
After high school, I took a “gap year" and worked in Switzerland, so I learned Swiss-German--the same basic language, but a whole new way of speaking. I even picked up some Spanish from the kitchen staff and Amharic while hanging with my sister in Ethiopia for three months. And immigrating to Australia felt like that in the beginning: I’m sure the people were speaking English, but sometimes it didn’t sound that way! I still speak many of these languages, though some have become intermixed over time and lack of usage.
Now, I think running is like learning a new language. In order to learn a language, you have to start at the beginning, when every word is hard work, and practice it. You also have to surround yourself with others who know the language, or it makes it even more difficult to learn. You have to try to not compare yourself to those who speak the language fluently: They, too, had to learn it--some from a very young age, while others are newcomers to it but have a real knack for this language. Then there are all the specific language terms (splits, pace, BQ, intervals, etc).
At this point, I’ve been stuck in the Running 101 class for well over a year. I keep dropping out, or only going intermittently, so I’m not getting as adept as others are who attend class multiple times a week.
I’ve got other challenges in life right now, which lead to handy excuses not to get out there—an upcoming big move back to Canada, full-time work and trying to sell a house, while dealing with the normal stuff of life, marriage, and child.
Plus, I’ve got very few non-virtual friends here to share my language with, so I don’t push myself enough, pick up my dictionary enough, or get enough practice at this language.
But I persevere at it. If nothing else, I’m a stubborn Taurus, and if I want to continue to call myself a runner, I need to keep speaking that language. My body likes it when I do; my brain doesn’t need to think too hard about it; and I want to get fluent. So I read a lot of running blogs; I blog myself to keep accountable and to see my progress; I track of my kilometers at dailymile; and I’m slowly losing weight and getting fitter.
Running is definitely not a language that is coming easily to me. I know I’m often not putting enough effort into it, but I want to keep at it and speak it for years to come. I want to be fluent.