In case you were wondering, since I haven't posted about it in awhile, I have not given up! Except for the week off due to the Bermuda trip, I have been running according to the Beginner Runner's Plan. At 10 weeks in, I am up to 4 iterations of 8 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. My cool Nike iPod told me that I did 4 miles today and that I have completed a total of over 100 miles cumulative so far. I even did a faster than 10 minute mile today (that includes the walking portion).
I know I am stronger. In the last 10 weeks I've gone from not running at all to running 4 miles. That's 32 minutes of running! I can tell that my muscles are more defined and that I've probably lost a few pounds. I like that the aerobic portion of my workout videos is much easier. I used to dread the jumping and stepping, but now consider it a piece of cake.
It is less than two weeks until the big 5K race, on my 39th birthday. I think I will be ready. I am nervous about running in a race. I don't like participating in athletic competition, especially with an audience. I have never done anything like a race. What if I am the very last person? Or I look stupid? What if I am a big dork and cry at the end, like it's a marathon or something, instead of a rinky-dink 5K? What if my outfit looks too new, like it's the first day of school? What if I trip?
I'm sure I'll see some people I know there that are seasoned racers. I will feel stupid saying, "Yeah, I know. I'm not a runner, but I did this class..." And they'll say something completely annoying and condescending like, "Well, good for you. I'm sure you'll love running when you get the hang of it. Gotta go, I need to warm up because I'm trying to break my PR this time. Oh, I'm sorry, that means Personal Record in runner lingo."
I am trying not to think about those things and instead concentrate on what I have learned and accomplished so far. There is much to say! I'll start with the big stuff and then talk about the little things.
Running is a great metaphor for life. To get out there and do it. To persevere, reach a goal, move your body. Two of my favorite lessons are opposing ideas. First is that even when you feel bad, or hurt, sometimes you just have to keep going, press on through it. Many times while running something has hurt like my ankles, shins or calves. But as I continue on my run, the pain subsides. This is not an idea I have really been familiar with in the past. I am typically the person who says, um pain, OK, I'm done. So it has been eye opening to realize that you can work through the agony and instead of it getting worse, it might actually go away. The rush of knowing you can overcome is very inspiring.
The other idea is that when you really hurt or have overdone it, you need to take a break. Before we left for Bermuda, I had been doing all the required runs and also continuing my strength workouts. A few times I had even done two workouts in one day, trying to make up for a lost day due to bad weather or some other conflict. I thought I could handle this and that the pain I experienced was probably normal. I would hobble around thinking I was just a wimp. But when I took the week off and really rested, I was able to resume running without any problems and little pain. It turns out that what I really needed was to take it easy and let my body fully recover. I have felt stronger and more comfortable ever since (and you know it wasn't because the trip itself was rejuvenating!).
A few other things I've discovered:
Because I am always aware of the little eyes who are watching my every move, I am proud of the example I am setting for the kids. While it is nothing like an Ironman race, it is a big thing for me. They see me sticking with it and following though. I know that matters.
Now I know why people run in the street. It isn't because they are idiots trying to get run over by cars, but because the asphalt road is more forgiving on the joints than the concrete sidewalk. It really does make a difference.
I am so in love with my Nike iPod! Talk about motivating, after every run I get to hook the thing up and see exactly what I did. Not only that, but it keeps track of every run I've done. The cool funky techno music helps me run faster and keep a clear head. I am now used to the different beats and try to run faster when the pace picks up. I thought I would listen to podcasts, but I like the freeing, non-thinking aspect of this music. At least for now. And, if I run a little farther or faster, famous people congratulate me. "This is Lance Armstrong. Congratulations, you just completed your longest run yet!" Gee, thanks Lance, I didn't know you would notice. This may the best Christmas present Matt ever bought me, thank you honey!
I like to run in the morning. This is not surprising because I am a morning person. But I've also noticed that when I have all day to stretch and remain moving, I don't get as cramped up. I've also started stretching a little before I start running. This has helped tremendously with my calves which tend to tighten up as I run. Plus, I am just more tired at the end of the day.
I need to eat a little before I run unless I am going first thing in the morning, then I only need my first cup of coffee. This is another reason why running early helps. The class is at 6:30 in the evening, too early to have dinner with the family before and too late to go without something. I finally realized I needed a small snack before I left for the class so I wouldn't feel lightheaded.
It is great that the weather is so nice now. When I would go out when it was cold I'd never dress right. I was surprised at how hot I got. Matt would just shake his head at me as I bundled up with layers. Inevitably I'd be burning up well before I got home.
I am beginning to buy into the "Do it for yourself" idea that woman get told repeatedly. Before this class I thought, um, what I want to do for myself is read a book or blog (perhaps get a massage), not go running. What are they talking about? Even though I don't think running (or blogging for that matter) have made me better tempered, I do now see what they mean. I feel better about myself that I am achieving a goal and getting healthier. Especially when it means I get to ditch Matt with the screaming sick 3 year old and her crabby, disrespectful brother.
My single biggest fear about running was that I would get winded and feel sick to my stomach. I have a throw up phobia and can count on one hand the number of times I have thrown up including when I was a child, drunk or pregnant. The good news is that I have never felt out of breath or sick during this training class. Not once. That's what has really converted me.
That and the sense of pride that I am one of them. Not the walker that gets dusted, but an actual runner who can't stop to chat. Someone who is getting stronger and faster, clocking more miles, trading stories and ideas for running routes. Dare I say that I really am one of them?
The woman who runs the class sends out training tips and information via e-mail. She always ends her messages with the positive, upbeat phrase:
And I will.