Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Didn't I Do This Sooner?

I wish someone had told me that running isn't so bad.

You know what runners look like. They're way too cool for the rest of us. They're slim with huge calves and thighs. Their hair is in ponytails, and they're slick with sweat. And yet, they aren't huffing or puffing or anything.

I've always hated running.

I remember when I was in elementary school and we had to do the Presidential Physical Fitness test. Guess which one I flunked out on. Yep, we had to run around our school three and one-half times to get to the necessary mile. I walked most of it every year.

Of course, even had I completed the mile in the appropriate amount of time, I still would have failed when it came to the flexibility test. I literally have no hamstrings. Almost three years of yoga and I can still not touch my toes? Granted, I'm much closer and by the end of class I can touch them, but it's still depressing.

Back to running.

When I was in high school, I had several friends who ran cross country. I thought they were nuts. Actually, they were nuts. They ran, and they liked it. I stuck with my cheerleading (don't laugh, and yes, I was captain) and horseback riding and softball.

In college, we had SPAC (something something athletic something?) which was the huge gorgeous workout facility that overlooks Lake Michigan. I went inside once to meet a friend but never made it past the lobby. Come to think of it, maybe working out in college would have been a good thing, fun even. Right.

I have friends now who are runners. One of my friend's husband runs the Chicago marathon every year. I think that's nuts. I look at what that does to your body, and I just shake my head.

So let's review the runners I've known: freaky cross country people who run for miles on end on bumpy paths that would make me trip and marathon runners. Not exactly the most sane role models.

This spring, I went to dinner with some friends of mine, just like we do once a quarter. One of my friends is normal. Well, relatively so anyway. Her new hobby? She's running 5Ks.

Now this friend isn't exactly a supermodel. She doesn't have the famous runner's body. She's normal, and she's also relatively new to running. Hmmm.

Enter another good friend's now husband who also runs 5Ks. Nope, not a runner's body there, either. But he does it. And so does she.

I asked her questions. How did she do it? Why did she do it? And she explained it to me. There's a whole program set up for those of us who can't run to the mailbox. It's called the Couch to 5k program (get it -- couch potato to running 5K?). I even found podcasts on it that explain tell you when to run and when to stop running.

Exhibit A): The C25K website
Exhibit B): Robert Ullreys's podcasts

The program lasts for nine weeks. Nine weeks, and you're running a 5K. That's two months! I could do that. Maybe.

Week one: walk for five minute I can do that run for sixty seconds I think I can do that? walk for ninety seconds That I can do repeat eight times ummm not so sure, but maybe? walk five minutes to cool down.

At the end of week one, I felt so good, I ran a second circuit. I'm a runner now!

Week two was harder, but doable. Week three I managed. Week four was easy. Week five got hard as it progressed from 5-3-5-3-5 running walking pattern to 8-5-8 to a 20 minute run. Egads! But I did it. I had to force myself to do it, but I did it. Week six wasn't so bad. Week seven was hard, but where I used to struggle to do ninety seconds my new mantra was I can run for another three minutes, just another three minutes, I can do that much. Week eight was a twenty-eight minute run. Can you imagine? Twenty-eight minutes! And I did it! I'm so close, so so close.

So what did I do?

Well, it was summer then, and the wee ones were home from school. And they wanted to do fun things. And the pool was open, and it was so much fun to play with them in the pool! While I still did my yoga and belly dancing classes (classes = set times = more likely to do it), I didn't run. I skipped almost the entire summer of running. I was one week away from completing the program and being able to run a 5k, and I "got distracted" (read: didn't want to fail?).

Whatever. I stopped doing it, and I actually missed it. Weird, huh?

But I've finally started running again. The cool thing is that I've been able to start from week five (that's the five minute run, three minute walk, five, three, five). Of course, I've started from week five three times now since I ran again then didn't run for three weeks then ran then didn't run for two weeks then ran. But Friday? I'm going to do a twenty minute run.

And you know what? It's good for me. And I kinda like it. Ok, I hate running, especially on a treadmill, but I feel so good afterwards. Accomplishing a big milestone is pretty cool, too. I've heard there are some Thanksgiving turkey trot kind of 5Ks around. Maybe I'll have to investigate that.

If only someone had told me that you don't have to be a runner in order to run.


MaBunny October 16, 2008 at 9:07 AM  

Wow, i was never a good runner. I walked most of the track stuff we had to do in school too and now running is not even a remote option for me.. but congratulations on running! If I was able, I would join the couch to 5K, it kind of sounds like fun!

Keeper of the Skies Wife October 16, 2008 at 6:47 PM  

I use to run....then my knees went bad. Now all I do is walk. I like to walk.
Thanks for stopping by my BATW yesterday!

Cookie October 16, 2008 at 8:44 PM  

Wow! you really do scare me sometimes. I just started running and i hadn't posted it on my blog yet. I walk up the big hill and then run back down. and then I started adding more running and not just down hill! i was also considering the next 5k run. How do you always seem to know what I'm doing??? I'm going to start keeping the blinds closed!
Oh, but dont' worry, I was never a cheerleader. I did field hockey and martial arts in high school :) and never never did I think that I would enjoy running.

Anonymous October 16, 2008 at 9:14 PM  

Good for you! I am a runner. Scratch that I used to be a runner and now I just miss it. A lot. I'm not sure where my motivation went. It's weird really to crave something and not do it.
The C25K looks like a great program!

-Bridget October 16, 2008 at 9:23 PM  

This was really inspiring. I might even give it a try. My dad and stepmom run marathons and triathalons and belong in that freak category. It's always turned me off for doing something more casual like this. I might need to do a lot more walking before I start running though just so I don't blow out my knees on my fat bod.

Lex the mom October 17, 2008 at 3:48 AM  

I have always hated running - like you I'd fail the run in the presidential athletics thing, too.

Like you, also, I'd probably give up at the end (in order not to fail). The only way we overcome the fear of failure is to defeat it. Go for the Turkey 5K cause I know you can do it.

I will forever remember something I learned in a high school economics class - even though it was related to financial stuff - fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. That still didn't and doesn't help. I have too much false evidence in my life.

Kelly October 17, 2008 at 8:42 AM  

I joke all the time that the only time I run is if someone was chasing me, but this plan has caught my attention! I might give it a try! I'll keep ya posted. Thanks for the inspiration!

Caution/Lisa October 17, 2008 at 8:42 AM  

Clicked over to you from The Rocking Pony. I've read about those couch to 5K training programs. My sister did it and ran one 5K. I think I will simply continue to live vicariously. Good for you, you runner you!

Nina October 17, 2008 at 1:40 PM  

I know exactly what you are talking about. I also hate running, was also the girl in high school walking the entire mile test and failing. I evently figured out how to run and got pretty good at running a couple miles at a time. I have never done a 5K. Fast forward to now and I haven't run in a couple years. I would probably have a heart attack now but you have inspired me so maybe I will give it a try again soon.

KatBouska October 21, 2008 at 10:24 PM  

Good for you!!! Running really isn't that bad, but you do have to work into it. It's been too long for me too...thanks for making me feel guilty about that. ;)

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