From Couch to Runner

standard August 3, 2012 5 responses

I started the Couch 2 5k program a few times. Each time I got to week 6 or so, the first “long” run weeks, and I stalled. I hurt my back. My shoes would die. It would start to rain. The kids would get sick. Work would pile up.

Whatever the reason, I stopped for a day, two days, three days, a week, two weeks… until I really couldn’t claim to be running any more.

This time I almost stopped again. The moment came when I was out running one day and dislocated a rib a good twenty minutes from the house. Now, dislocating ribs is something I do with somewhat distressing frequency. It’s something two pregnancies left as a souvenir. Usually I know just how to pop the rib back and then I know to take it easy for a few days. This time I was a good 20 minutes away from the house and I had to walk back holding my arm against my chest in an effort to keep my rib stable.

It hurt.

And it scared me.

Because while I was fine a few days later, the memory of that excruciating walk home stayed with me.

But it bugged me that I’d done so well again with the Couch 2 5k program and that I was once again on the way to abandoning the training part of the way through. And I missed running. Missed the high. Missed feeling strong. Missed knowing that I was doing something great for my heart and my head.

I tentatively started walking again, even running a bit. I stayed to ‘safe’ spots, running tight loops around the neighborhood so I wouldn’t be far from home if I hurt myself again. I even started to relax a bit.

Which is when Summer rolled around, dumping the children at home, leaving me somewhat stuck there, unable to go out for 45 minutes by myself.

I did the only thing I could think of. I joined the YMCA.

The thought of running indoors made me sad, but not as sad as the thought of not working out all summer.

Isn’t it funny how life sometimes throws you a bone?

Because running on a treadmill is my new crack.

Seriously. I can’t get enough.

The treadmill offers a much softer surface for running. My knees and back are thanking me. And even though I run daily, I never go anywhere, so that fear of being stranded far from home and hurting myself has completely vanished. Heck, should anything happen, there are even trainers and physical therapists a few feet away who could come to my rescue.

With the fear gone my inhibitions about running have vanished.

And it feels so good to watch the miles tick by on the screen. So good to see how much faster and farther I can go every day. So good to know I’m getting stronger.

This week I woke up early four days so I could go run before M had to leave for work. Yesterday I slept in and took the kids with me to the YMCA so I could get in my daily run.

By now I’m running fast enough and far enough that I could have easily published a cheery “I just completed day 3 of week 9 of the Couch 2 5k app!” to my Facebook wall. The only thing keeping me from doing that is the Y’s 30 minute limit on the treadmill. (With the 5 minute warm-up and the 5 minute cool-down the last run in the program is a full 40 minutes long.) I’m OK with that. In my heart I know I’ve reached the goal. And more importantly, I know that I’m not giving up any time soon.

And that, my friends, is the only thing that matters. Maybe they should rename the app ‘Couch to Runner.” Because I doubt anyone reaches week 9 without being hooked for life.


Chaos in my head

standard May 19, 2010 3 responses

I want to go run again, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of running every other day and I’m a bit scared to start again. It’s been three spotty weeks.

I want to write again, but the mass of my book remains to be edited and I feel like I can’t write until that’s done.

I want to edit again, but I’m stuck on two characters who are driving me crazy by not opening themselves up to me. I think that I’m itching to write just so I can get away from those two.

I want to…

I want to…

I want to feel in control again. Mere weeks ago I felt on top of the world. In control. In charge. Today I’m back to being unsettled and ill at ease. My willpower is slipping away. My self-worth is fading.

The answer lies in putting on workout pants and lacing up my shoes. It lies in picking a running program and just getting back outside. For a minute I’ll be frustrated and annoyed that I’m not done with the Couch to 5K program like I should be. I’ll be annoyed that I have to backtrack a week or two. Then I’ll find my footing and the pounding of the pavement will shut off the whining in my brain.

I don’t run to prove something to someone. I run to clear my head. I run to stretch my muscles. I run to remind myself that it’s up to me to take control of myself. I am the one who calls the shots. I am the one who decides for me what is right for me.

When I am outside, running in the dark, it’s just me and my body, moving. The pounding of my feet on the pavement calms the chaos in my head. Thoughts emerge. Ideas bloom. Blocks fall apart. I come back feeling peaceful and quiet. The constant buzzing of thoughts, self doubt, self criticism, and everything else that takes up residence in my head, blocking the good that also lies in there is stilled and I feel good about life and everything else again.

I know all this. I’ve always known this.

So why is it always so hard to lace up those shoes?

Just one small step off course

standard March 25, 2010 Leave a response

On Friday I ran the last of the week 4 Couch to 5k training runs.

It was a good run. I felt great about myself as I pushed myself through the last minute of the run. It was the third time that week that I had run a total of 16 minutes (in four intervals, but still!) and I was feeling really upbeat about taking on Week 5 with its first “serious” runs.

I took the weekend off, knowing that my body needed to rest so I could face the tough challenge of the new training runs.  

Monday morning I woke up with a cough and a wrenched shoulder.

I ignored the cough and took some ibuprofen for my shoulder, but I worried all day about the run ahead. A part of me knew that it wasn’t wise to head out for something that would definitely be challenging when my shoulder was bothering me and my lungs were more than just a bit raspy. But, as you know, I have a history of letting small things detract me from my exercise goals, and I was terrified that one missed run would signal the end of this particular road.

All day I thought about my run. All day I felt my shoulder ache. All day I coughed. And yet I hashed out a tentative plan. Heat before the run to loosen the tight shoulder, ice after to make it feel better.

And then at 10, sitting on the couch, coughing every few minutes, I realized it was dumb to push myself when I was clearly ill and hurt. Even then I struggled with my decision to stay put.

I’m an all or nothing girl. I’m not good at rationalization. I’m not good at believing myself when I promise that it’s just a hiatus, not the end. When I diet I’m hard core. I can’t “cut back.” I create a firm plan I never let myself deviate from. Because I know myself. It’s never just “one” cookie. It’s one cookie followed by a “well, I cheated there, so I might as well cheat here” french fry, then a “well, since this day is shot” off plan dinner, and before you know it I’ve deviated so far off course that I can’t even see my way back to the original plan.

This night off felt like that first step off course and I was terrified I wouldn’t know how to get back.

Three nights later my cough is finally easing up and my shoulder doesn’t hurt any more. I’m starting to itch to go run instead of itch to go crawl under the covers. That itch is why, for the first day this week, I’m starting to believe that this really is just a bump in the road and not another dead end in my running career. I’ve checked in with a few other runners and I think I have a plan for my re-entry into the C25K plan.

On Saturday, when I’m good and better, I’m going to start Week 4 again. I’m going to run all three runs over the following days, and then, next week, I’ll start Week 5.

A week late. But not never. I’m not letting a little cough and a little pain derail me this time.

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.