For quite a while, I have read a lot of health and wellness blogs (including the “Big Six”), and as a result, I have read a lot about running as a form of exercise. And recently, it seems even more bloggers that I like to follow have taken on running as a new activity (including Miss Zoot and Dooce). I used to be someone who considered herself a runner, back when I was in college and just out of college, although I was never a huge long distance runner or anything, but I did used to be able to crank out a respectable, albeit slow, three or so miles on the treadmill. Through my rose-colored glasses (hindsight in this case is NOT 20/20), I remember LOVING running. I definitely remember being able to achieve a runner’s high on occasion, and when I look back, this is the feeling I remember. I don’t remember the hard work it took to get there (although I do remember regularly feeling like I was going to puke after running at high school field hockey practices), but I remember feeling good.
For the past several years, I have yearned to recapture that amazing feeling that comes from a good run. However, I am in no way able to actually run any sort of distance. About a year and a half ago, I went back to the gym for the first time in quite a while, and I set my sights on the Couch to 5K program, which is designed to turn you from a couch potato to a runner in about eight weeks. I have tried the program before and dropped out, but THIS was going to be the time that I finished it. I WOULD become a runner.
Yeah, I am still not a runner.
I made it through about three weeks of the C25K program, and then one day, I ran for 12 minutes straight (at about 4.5 MPH on the treadmill, which is slow), and I thought I was going to die for every second of that, and then…I never went back to the program. I did continue to use the elliptical, and I went from being able to use the thing for ten minutes to being able to use it for a full hour, and I was proud of my progress in the world of fitness, but I was still not a runner. And in the back of my head, I still wanted to be a runner.
My friend Liz, who I went to high school with, recently went through a different beginning running program that was developed by Runner’s World magazine. Instead of a three-day plan, this program has a four-day running schedule, with two days of walking and one day of rest. Because of my work schedule, I can really only fit in four exercise days, so this seems doable for me. I like the intervals that this program uses more than I liked the C25K program because the build-up is a bit more gradual, and you don’t find yourself suddenly faced with a 20-minute run in week 5, which seems very daunting to me.
So I have been in the planning stages for embarking on this program, but I had not yet taken the actual step of, you know, embarking on this program. I was reading about running, I was thinking about running, but I was not doing any actual running. And then this morning, I read this post by Miss Zoot, and I came up with a plan. In the post that I have linked to, Miss Zoot talks about whether or not she likes running while she is actually running. She has gotten to the point where she does like running during most of her runs. She goes on long runs, and sometimes it takes her THREE MILES to get to the point that she likes running, but she does get there. However, she shares that in the beginning, she used to hate even her slow, short runs. But now she likes it!
I think what has stopped me up when I have started running programs in the past is that they have not been enjoyable at all. And I have felt like I was going to die, even from jogging one-minute intervals. And since that is not fun at all, I have quit. I have not been able to see ahead to the day that I will be able to run a mile without thinking that my heart is going to explode out my chest. I have been focused instead on how I felt at that moment, which was Not. Good. However, if I could transcend that moment and remember that it will get better and that there will be a day when I will actually enjoy running like I remember enjoying it in the past, I have to say that the short term awfulness really will be worth the long term reward. It’s so much a mental game, but I am willing to commit to playing that game. Even if all I do on some days is the 30-minute training session in this running program, that is more than I am doing with my sporadic workout schedule now.
So here we go again. An effort will be made to document my progress here…let’s run!