One stage at a time I’m acing Couch to 5K.

standard April 14, 2010 2 responses

Robert Ulrey’s voice spoke soothingly into my ear.

“If you are doing day one you will run five minutes, walk three minutes, run five minutes, walk three minutes, then run five more minutes. If you’re doing day two you will run eight minutes, walk five minutes, and run eight minutes. And if you’re doing day three you will run for twenty minutes.”

That was me. Week 5 Day 3. Run 20 minutes.

Me, who seven weeks ago couldn’t run 60 seconds. Today I was being told to run for twenty minutes.

I hesitated at the door, I was pretty tired, maybe it would be wise to stay home, go to bed early, just relax.

But I was already dressed, shoes on, and ready to go.

Maybe I’d just go and redo Week 5 Day 2. I had managed that.

But a tiny voice in my head replied super quietly. “Just go. Try it. You’ll stop if you can’t finish. Every time you’ve thought you couldn’t finish a C25K level you have finished it. You won’t know if you don’t try.”

For a moment I felt like the little girl long ago being assigned the riding teacher’s beloved and fierce show jumping horse for a morning ride through the forest. I had panicked, convinced he was more horse than I could handle, but a good friend had reminded me that the teacher would not have assigned him to me if she hadn’t thought I was a good enough rider to manage her horse.

She was right. The horse and I both made it through that ride unscathed.

Granted it’s odd to draw a parallel between a recorded voice in my iPod telling me I can run a certain distance and a teacher who knew my abilities well. But frankly, Robert hasn’t been wrong yet. He says run, and even when I doubt that I can get through the run, I do.

One stage at a time I’m acing Couch to 5K.

I have no real recollection of the twenty minutes of that run. The minutes flew by in the same dissociated way minutes fly by when you are traveling. I can tell you that it was raining. I can tell you that I was letting my brain wander from one article idea to another. I can also tell you that I probably killed a few snails as I ran around the block three times. But I was in a zone the whole time I was running and when Robert called the ends of the day one and day two runs, told them to walk, told them to start running again, I didn’t falter, didn’t stop, didn’t slow down. I just pushed on.

By the 18th minute I was chanting “You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.” It’s a good thing it was raining and I was alone in the street. I’m not sure I was chanting all that quietly. And at the end of the 20th minute, when Robert finally said “Day three people, your run is over.” I almost burst into tears at the sheer relief of being done and having made it all the way through the run.

As I walked the 5 minute cool down period I fought back tears and giggled at the same time. I ran for 20 minutes. Me. Who seven weeks couldn’t run for 60 seconds.

Endorphins are good. Overcoming your fears is better.

standard March 18, 2010 1 response

Week one was easy. Well, OK, week one was manageable. 60 seconds of running alternated with 90 seconds of walking repeated 8 times. I was definitely huffing by the end, but I never faltered.

Week two was harder. Who knew running 90 seconds instead of 60 would be significantly more challenging? I made it through that first week two run, struggling at the end, breathing harder than I had the previous week, but I made it. It didn’t get any easier as the week went on.

Surprisingly week three was the easiest of them all. Maybe it was that I already had two weeks of runs under my belt, or maybe I’d embraced the notion of being a runner, but I sailed through the two repetitions of run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. I found myself itching to run a third interval. That’s right, me, the girl who barely two weeks before had struggled through running a mere 60 seconds.

And that’s when I got psyched out. Because Week Four – run 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes, run 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes – seemed really daunting. If there was a huge difference between 60 seconds and 90 seconds, the difference between 3 minutes 5 minutes was more of a leap than a jump. Plus the run time from week 3 was almost doubled in week 4, and well, I’m a wuss.

But the beauty of C25K apparently doesn’t just lie in it’s running plan, which is amazing, or the free podcasts, which are, well, priceless, it lies in the masses of people also doing the program.

Every time I log into Facebook or Twitter and mention what section of the plan I’m tackling a host of people chime in to say where they are on their route to 5k. It’s inspiring and motivating to know that so many others, so many of my friends, are also running their way through the same intervals.

Five minutes before I headed out to run the first Week Four run I logged on to Facebook and went to the Couch-to-5-k fan page. I always feel inspired by the way everyone there encourages each other and I clearly needed some encouragement myself.

I posted: “Need some motivation. Scared to start W4D1. 5 minutes seems like an awfully long time!”

And strangers came out of the woodwork to support me.

One person posted: …”We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” ~ Buddha

Another said:  “That’s what I thought too! But you can do it :)”

With their words ringing in my ear I headed out on my run. Whenever I started to struggle I gave myself silent pep talks and remembered that others had made it through. And I pushed on.

I finished the intervals without walking. I ran a total of 16 minutes, feeling better and better about myself as I ran step after step.

And when I got back I posted a thank you to my virtual support group along with this message:
“I did it! Ran the whole thing! Even sped up during the last minute of the last five minute run. Feels GREAT!”

Endorphins are good. Overcoming your fears and pushing beyond what you thought you could do is even better.

Remind me of that at the end of next week when I have to run 20 minutes without stopping.

Getting off the couch and going for a run

standard March 8, 2010 4 responses

I never thought I’d be a runner. I used to hate it, used to avoid it at all costs. Then one day I strapped on a pair of sneakers and ran around the block. The next day I ran a bit further. Then a bit further.

I even went out and bought a new pair of running shoes.

A few days after that I wrote this piece.

I don’t remember what made me start running. And I don’t remember why I stopped. If you clicked through to read that post you’ll be surprised to hear that I did, because it sure sounded like I was off to a great start.

But the day after I wrote that I wasn’t able to go out. And the day after, and the day after. And suddenly it’s well over a year later and until two weeks ago I hadn’t run a step since that night.

Which is shocking, because it turns out I love to run.

I love how easy it is to lace up my sneakers and get out of the house. I love how quickly I start to feel the effects of the run, how fast I start to feel the rush from pushing myself past my comfort zone. The whole thing makes me feel good.

Since I was scared I’d just start and stop again, this time I decided to challenge myself to doing the Couch to 5K program. It seemed appropriate considering how attached I am to my couch.

I was going to wait until my month at The Dailey Method was up, but after five days of working out with them, I wasn’t able to go on Saturday and while my brain was itching to take a day off, the rest of my body didn’t agree. By 9pm I was a mass of wound up nerves. I had two options, erupt at my poor undeserving husband, or go for a walk.

And then, while I was lacing up my sneakers I realized I could get a jump on my plan an just go for a run instead of a walk.

I downloaded Robert Ullrey’s podcasts and I set out. Instead of having to use a stopwatch to time the C25K intervals, the podcasts set running and walking cues to fast paced techno music. It’s not what I’d usually listen to, but for a run, it works.

25 minutes later I was done with my first C25K run. And I felt great.

The next day I did the second. And on Monday morning I work up at 6:40, jumped out of bed, laced up my sneakers and did the third.

I’m not a morning person, and even less a morning exerciser. That morning run was tough, but I was proud of myself for going. I was even more proud the next morning when I went again.

By the time Saturday rolled around again I had done week one of the C25K plan five times and I was more than ready to start week two. So I did.

Then M went off to Boston and both girls got sick and for three days I wasn’t able to get off the couch. In the past it wouldn’t have taken much more than that to derail a brand new exercise routine. But on Wednesday I laced up my sneakers again and went back out. And again on Friday.

Tonight I started the third week of the training program. When I started week two I struggled with the run. Tonight I just enjoyed it.

I’m not going to make insane claims of races I’ll run in the future. I’m just going to take it one day at a time.

Tonight I went for a run and it felt great.