Running on Chicken Legs

I'm so happy our Marathon Maps have taken off. I first made the prints when we personalized a series of maps for my friend Holly who has a marathon running sister.

The strange thing is that I am not a runner, I suppose I used to be. In high school I ran cross country, not well… but I ran. I don’t think I was last, but I was only a few steps ahead of it. I’m tall and slow but I still played sports: soccer, basketball, softball, diving… I liked getting out of school early for away games and being with friends. My dad was a very good basketball player at the same high school, so seeing trophies with his name on them in the halls always inspired me.


Softball photo circa 5th or 6th grade. I think the bat is fatter than my legs.

I stopped playing sports spring of senior year and I haven’t run since then. I’ve gone to the gym on and off and I’ve really enjoyed the barre classes I’ve taken in the last year. For a while I've been having dreams of running. In them I’m running in Southie next to the water. I’m running pretty fast, breathing in the cool air and I feel FANTASTIC. I feel so light and relived and worry free. When I wake up I always think... can I actually run like that?

The main reason I haven’t run in 18 years is that I’m knock-kneed. When I run my legs kick out at an angle and look weird and I get pains down the sides of them. The fact that I played sports until I was 18 without being brutally bullied is amazing. However there were lots of catcalls of “chicken legs” that still stick with me. It was embarrassing and made me incredibly self-conscious. I’m even self-conscious when I run around the field at Castle Island with my son. I assume everyone is like “look at that weirdness” as my legs flail about.

But alas, after getting to know Boston Marathon bombing survivor Bill White, and how he did the 1 mile walk with a prosthetic leg… I felt like an idiot. I wasn't running because I didn’t want to look weird, when in reality I should be running because I'm lucky to have healthy (even when flailing) legs.

So I downloaded a Couch to 5k running app. I've run 3 times so far, and each time has been easier than the last. The app has you start off with a 5 min walk, then you run for 60 seconds / walk for 90 seconds. This alternates for about 15-20 mins. Each week it progresses to more running. Next week I see my new Orthopedist about getting orthotics and then I'm going to Marathon Sports to get sneakers. I'm sure the more I run I'll get over those childhood insecurities, right? If anyone has any tips for a new runner please let me know, I can use the help! - xo JHill



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