Running – Back to Basics….Again. (Week 1)
I went for a run this morning for the first time in several weeks. It was brutal. Annoying. Frustrating. I had always turned to running when I was upset or angry to help me clear my head. It was the type of hard work that prevented me from holding on to any negative emotions, but this time I was so mad all the way through. I was mainly mad at myself for letting life sidetrack me from a productive and regular running routine. I had been running 4 times a week and progressed from never running to completing 5 km in under 30 minutes. Now all of a sudden, I’m huffing and puffing and can’t even come close to the pace I had just a few short (ok long weeks) ago. I find myself back here, at the beginning, and I’m NOT happy about it.
I have three vivid memories that stand out when I think back on my evolution as a runner.
“I’m going to die.”
The first was my first week of training. My goal was to run for five minutes straight. I got through it. Barely. I remember thinking to myself, “I think I might actually die on here. But I can’t, because that would be so embarrassing. I just have to keep running or else I’ll die and they’ll call the paramedics and I’ll be on the news as the person who died after running for 3 minutes.” That shame propelled me through my first real training run. Barely. I also remember feeling really sore the next day, but getting back on the treadmill and sticking through the program.
“I think I could be a runner.”
The second moment came a 2.5 months later. I was running on the treadmill, focused on my breathing and trying to keep my form. The little voice in my iPod plus announced that I had just passed the 4km mark. I was completely stunned. What? FOUR KILOMETERS? I wasn’t even tired or winded. I ran that last kilometer feeling euphoric. When I finished the run, I hopped off the treadmill, threw my hands up in the air and yelled “YES!” I ignored the startled looks from the other patrons at the gym and was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.
I had battled and struggled for every additional minute that I added on to my endurance. I was seeing the results in my energy level, my clothes, my overall mood. I was feeling unstoppable. For the rest of the afternoon at various points during my work day I would stop what I was doing to look at my iPod and see my running time and speed. Just to make sure I hadn’t made it all up.
“It’s all gone.”
The third moment happened this morning. As I went back to running after a six week unplanned hiatus. An insane travel schedule where I crossed oceans, continents and timezones threw me completely off my game. Don’t get me wrong, I packed my running gear. But I hadn’t counted on the physical impact of traveling to a new place every 48 hours. Of sleeping badly on planes. Of eating airport food(eew.) And so, the sad pattern would emerge of me unpacking my running shoes, promising myself I would go out and run, and then oversleeping and guiltily shoving them back into my suitcase, unused.
I went out today and I couldn’t even run five minutes without stopping. It’s all gone, I thought to myself. Everything I worked hard for. And yet, I soldiered on and finished the 35 minute run, in 3-5 minute intervals of running mixed with angry walking. I was pretty tempted to just quit this whole running thing completely. I mean, why does it have to be so HARD all the time? But, I can’t. I want to be healthy and fit and knowing that I was there once just makes it harder to come up with an excuse. I know I can do it because I did it before. I know why I was sidetracked last time, so this time I’m going to take the proper precautions.
So I’m starting again. From scratch. This is my week one and I am going to build up my endurance all over again. It sucks. But this time I’m going to write about it and document it so that when I even think about skipping a run I can read this post and remember this feeling. Of letting something that I’d worked for slip away from between my fingers. My running coach says it’s normal and that my muscles will remember. The speed and endurance will come to me much faster this time around. I’m trying to believe him. I’m also trying to remember to be patient with myself by building up speed slowly. Easing my body back into it instead of jumping head first (as I’m often tempted to do.)
This was my last run before I went on my trip:
This was my run today:
(My running time averaged 8mins/km.)
Doesn’t it just make you sad to look at it?
Back on Top by Aug 1
I’m getting myself back in gear, and I’m giving myself four weeks to do it. It’s scary putting that out there, but I’m hoping the shame factor, the same one that propelled me through that first run, will serve me again. This time, by putting it out there on the internet, I’m going to make sure that I’m accountable for my running. Less complaining and more action. If you’re using Nike Plus feel free to add me, my user name is Foushy.
This week’s goal: TEN MINUTES of non-stop running.
Running photo: joshjanssen