Supporters line the streets to indiscriminately cheer on runners. MALCOLM MURDOCH/CC FLICKR

On September 25 2016, the Hart House Recreational Athletics Committee hosted a Fall 4k Fun Run, which started at 10:00 am and departed from Hart House. From there, the participants, myself among them, circled Queen’s Park twice, King’s College Circle once, and then ran through Philosopher’s Walk to the Varsity Centre.

The cost of the event was $10.00 for Hart House members and students, which is fairly inexpensive compared to other runs of this kind.

While the information participants were provided with leading up to the event was limited, after showing up at the predetermined spot at the predetermined time, the route was made very clear by a man with a booming voice and strategically placed volunteers who directed you with all the gusto of a ground air traffic controller.

Upon finishing the race, the same volunteers provided the runners with food and water — they were very understanding when I went back for my sixth cup of water in two minutes. A group photo was taken, and then the runners dispersed.

I probably got lapped. I’m a very casual runner and this was the first official ‘run’ I’ve taken part in. Some of my preconceived notions were reinforced, but I definitely gained new perspective on them.

It seemed like everyone was part human and part machine. Also, since it was ‘only’ a 4k run, I felt the pressure to keep going, despite wanting to take a break.

As it turns out, these were both good things. I don’t think I’ve ever run 4k faster, despite being one of the last to finish. When people cheer you on at the finish line, it becomes clear that the community is very supportive. Everyone had to start running somewhere, after all.

I always thought running was the easiest way to maintain an effort at ‘healthy living’. Only over the course of the last year has running become something important to me.

I know that I’m in the process of learning to love running; as part of that process, I have to keep three things in mind. First, accept it. Accept that you’re going on a run today, and don’t let yourself think otherwise. Second, be patient with your body. It’s okay to walk if you need to. Running is also about enjoying the city and exploring — it’s not all about fitness. And third, don’t focus on the numbers. You’ll get a sense of what they are, even if you don’t keep track — you get better, and the numbers get better too.

When I signed up for the run, I was really nervous. When I finished the run, I was at my own best.

Like our content? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

* indicates required