I have never, ever in my life been an athletic person. Not during my childhood years, not during my teens, not ever. I played softball in third grade. This is the only active thing I can ever remember doing.
Once into adulthood, I realized that I needed to start exercising. I would walk or do Pilates, and every once in a while I would get a gym membership and use the elliptical. I never stayed consistent with exercising, I would just do it when I could. In case you didn’t know this, having children makes time for exercising very difficult to come by.
Since my very early adult years (late teens really), I was envious of runners. I always thought that running was something I would enjoy, but, sadly, my body just wasn’t built for it. I am too large-busted, too well-padded, not thin enough, not athletic, not muscular enough, and if I took the notion to ignore all of these reasons and jog a bit, it just plain hurt. So, clearly, I was not meant to be a runner. I would be upset by this, but I would accept it.
But I was still envious of runners.
And I still thought that if I could ever do it, I would like it.
Last summer (2010), I threw all my excuses to the wind and decided to give it a go. I did a little blogging about it too.
I decided that I would listen to music and slowly try to build my endurance. This sounds like a decent plan, BUT…
The only child care that I have is myself, and my husband. My husband works long, weird shifts, and he rotates from the day shift to the night shift every two weeks. Also, he works different days each week. For example: If he works Monday the first week, the second week he will be off on Monday. He works 2 days in a row, and then is off two days. Etc, etc. What this means (other than the fact that it’s really annoying for him, among many other things) is that I was not able to put myself on a schedule to run. I was going only when I could, only when he was there to watch our 8 year old and our baby (who was still under 1 year old). It wasn’t very often. As in, about twice a week. And because of Hubs weird shift work, I was usually going two days in a row, and then not again until the following week.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this isn’t a good thing for a person trying to learn to run. But still, I persisted. I went to the track in the evening, in the hottest part of the day, listened to my music, and tried to do as much as I could. And as much as I could definitely was not much. I would come home dizzy and lightheaded, and feel like a loser because I could only run a 1/4 of a mile. And I had to work up to that quarter mile.
My dedication to running lasted about a month and a half. Maybe 2 months. I just let it fall to the wayside. It was too much of a pain wondering when I would get to go, and my husband lost patience with me and became annoyed because I was always wanting to know when he could watch the kids so I could run. Couple that with my feelings of loserville for my lack of endurance, and not enough opportunity to build said endurance, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.
So, I stopped running, and I felt like a bum, but I resorted back to my excuses of “I was just not meant to be a runner”.
Fast forward to current time, summer of 2011. My sons and I have been living with my mother (No, I’m not getting divorced), and I found myself with prime grandma/babysitter material. I decided, with some feelings of dread, that I would try this running thing again.
An acquaintance had previously told me about a program that can be downloaded to a phone or mp3 that trains you to run further distances. She said that it plays with your music, and a voice will come on to tell you when to alternate running and walking, to help increase endurance. I did some googling, and found the Personal Running Trainer website. They have an app on the iTunes store, which I immediately downloaded.
Obviously, I started with the 1 mile program. With big-time feelings of trepidation and self doubt, I strapped down the aforementioned large-bustiness with three bras, pulled my freakishly long hair into a tight bun, and I did day one of week one. And it went fine. I did it. No problems. Sure, I was breathing heavy and my non-existent leg muscles hurt a little, but I did it without feeling like I might die. So then I downloaded the rest of the program. (In itunes, the app is advertised as ‘free’. But, you only get the first day free. Once day one is completed, you have to purchase the rest of whichever running program you’re doing if you want to continue. I personally like this feature as it allows you to test the program before you buy it.)
I finished week one with little enthusiasm. The hard part lay ahead, so I didn’t feel like I should celebrate the easy part being over. I didn’t think week two would be too challenging, but for some reason, day 1 of week 2 was difficult for me. I spent most of my 20 minute workout giving the trainer living in my iphone a good cussing.
It was after this workout that I realized I needed to change a few things about my habits and eating. I’ve been a relatively healthy eater for the last 6 or 7 years, but since I was learning to run, I needed only the BEST fuel. I stopped drinking diet sodas. I started consuming spinach and fresh vegetables at every meal, like my life somehow depended on it. I purchased some protein powder. I became an absolute freak for vitamins. I started closely evaluating the nutrition of every food that was going into my system. If the food wasn’t proper fuel for running, it wasn’t going in my body.
And…instead of doing my training program in the evening, when it is sweltering hot outside, I decided to give an early morning run a try. And you know what? 70 degrees in the morning is a lot different than 90 degrees in the evening. It was also really nice to get all the sweating out of the way BEFORE I took a shower.
(Me? Up early in the morning to exercise? To RUN, no less???? WHO AM I???)
After making these changes in my life, a funny thing started to happen.
I started to feel SO GOOD.
Maybe it was the crazy amount of spinach and vitamins, maybe it was the exercise and sunshine, I don’t know, but I felt GREAT. And something else major started to happen as well.
I started to think it was possible that I could actually RUN.
I finished week 2 of the program, and was scared to death to begin week 3. It just sounded so HARD.
Then on day 1 of week 3, at about 9 in the morning, I finished the session.
I could not believe what was happening. There were actual muscles in my legs (Huh? what? muscles? in my legs?), and they were getting stronger. My lungs were still not happy with the course of things, but they were able to handle more strain than the previous week. Oh my goodness, am I doing this? I think I can do this!
I started to get obsessed. I read information about running on the internet. I started looking at Garmin devices on Amazon with longing. I researched and ordered new running shoes. I read race recaps by other bloggers like a crazed stalker. I bought sunscreen, more vitamins, and a hat. I signed up for local running newsletters. I anxiously awaited my next workout session. Another session just meant that I was getting that much closer to achieving a goal that I never thought I would be able to achieve.
I did NOT like my rest days. I wanted to run and exercise everyday, not just 3 days a week. I am not a patient person, at all, and I wanted to run everyday in order to build my muscles and endurance that much faster. But, the program was obviously working, so I swallowed my impatience and stuck the program like glue. And though I wish it wasn’t so, I knew my muscles needed a recovery day.
I finished week 3, and was terrified to the very core of week 4, the final week. What if I just couldn’t do it? It seemed so hard. I knew that I shouldn’t be ashamed if I needed to repeat a week, but I didn’t want to have to do that. I knew that repeating a week would discourage me, even though I shouldn’t let it.
So, I spent the entirety of week 4 giving myself a mental pep talk.
“You’ve GOT this, Penny. You are going to go out there and eat that track for breakfast. You are gonna do it, and you are going to be SO happy that YOU DIDN’T STOP.”
I did day one of week four, then day two.
And today, June 22nd, I finished the program. I RAN ONE MILE WITHOUT STOPPING.
(Post 1 mile happy face. Sweat and sunscreen. )
I am 28 years old, I have 2 kids (both delivered via c-section), I have lupus and hypothyroidism, and have never in my life ran a entire mile. Never even came close to running an entire mile. But today, I did.
Now…..was it the easiest thing I’ve ever done? Did I feel as graceful as a gazelle as I galloped along? No and no. I had to push myself. I had to continually tell myself “Just don’t stop, just don’t stop, you can do this, you can do this”.
Running is way more of a mental feat than a physical one.
But, admittedly, when I finished my mile, my vision was a little swimmy, as was my head in general. But I was so darn happy, I didn’t care. I sit, I sipped water, and it passed. And I’m super excited to do it again.
I’m going to spend a few weeks getting comfortable with one mile and improving my speed (uh, because I’m very slow). Then, I move to 5K training. And I’ll eat it for breakfast too. So help me.
And maybe there will be a race in my future.Tweet