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.