I’ve never been much of a runner. Frankly, I’m still trying to become one. It’s not easy.
Running was a scary proposition for someone like me who had not done it, was out of shape, or both at one point or another. The fears manifest in many pictures. One of me prodding along at a slow pace. Another of my fat rolls bouncing in all sorts of unfathomable directions. Another of me sweating in the Miami humidity, attracting mosquitos, swatting at what looks like ghosts to the masses standing by, mocking my every massive, plodding hoof plant.
Obviously, I don’t have hooves. No masses are standing by mocking my every move. But even when one intellectually understands this, it doesn’t make the fear smaller. Or go away.
Looking back, I’m not even sure how I overcame it all to take that first step. But beyond some form of unrecognizable determination, I’ve always looked at that activity with fondness. The runners out there of all shapes all have one thing in common - they look like they are doing something right.
There’s a lot of the activity of running that’s attractive. It’s a great all-body workout. Runners look sexy and healthy. Running extends your life by strengthening your heart. Running gives you a better quality of life, I imagine because you keep your body healthy as it ages.
But what will they think when they see a fat heaving cow barreling down the road?
The fear and demons are #realtalk.
But it’s OK. I overcame.
First, I called them out. One by one. I called each element out by name. Inadequacy. Ugliness. Unhealthiness. Out-of-shape-iness. And I said enough is enough. They weren’t going to keep me from properly exploring the world of running. If after I had tried running, I hated it on proper merits, then I could live with that. But it wasn’t going to be because of imaginary demons born out of self-loathing. First, I had to love myself enough to stand-up for myself.
Once I took out the mental trash, I started the research. I looked up “couch-to-5K” articles and mobile apps. I bought an Apple Watch to keep track of heart rate and steps. I used Runkeeper on my phone to keep track of my activities. I started walking what would become run routes. I eventually mixed walking and running. I ran slowly to get a feel for it. I made a plan and tried some things out. It wasn’t perfect. It was ugly at times. It was hard. But I testify that running gets easier over time. I got comfortable with the motion and feel. My body adapted to the difficulty. I had to find new ways to challenge myself. Before long, I was running! I was running!
But it started with walking. I just got out there and walked. And then, I ran. And I’m glad I did. I love it. It’s time I can use to myself. Almost spiritually. I love feeling stronger. I love seeing the adaptation and evolution of my body. I’ve met many in the community of runners to inspire and be sources of inspiration. I love how running shaped my legs, my core, and even my face. (Is this even real?)
Bottom line? I don’t think I’ll ever give it up. I’m grateful for coming to the knowledge of, and experience of, the “runner’s high.”
Post-script: Dedication 6/12 Training Plan
For my Dedication 6/12 project, I designed an aggressive training plan to get back to running 5Ks. Strategically, I want to achieve and sustain this level of fitness to then launch from there bigger ideas.
I’m talking Marathon-big. Here’s how.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
I’m going out there for 30-minute workouts, starting with walking 10, running 10, walking 10, and then adding five more minutes to the running every two weeks. Doing this, I will be running 30 minutes in weeks 9 and 10 (days 57, 59, 61, 64, 66, and 68). Note that these are time-based workouts. I intentionally don’t care about distance. And keeping it to 30 minutes makes the sessions manageable and sustainable. All essential things.
These are my 5K days. I have drawn up a variety of 5K loops to try different things. I just did my first one yesterday. I walked 1 mile, ran 1 mile, then walked the rest. I plan to do the same next week (1/1/1). Then bump up the running a 1/2 mile every two weeks. Doing this, I will be running the whole 5K on days 62 and 69. Unlike the time-based workouts, time doesn’t bind these runs. But I am keeping tracking of average pace and total time. I’m racing against myself, and I want to see these metrics improve.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are “off” days. On these days I limit the cardio to just walking. No running allowed. I have to rest and recover.
However, unlike past plans, I’m going to be folding in some cross training activities on these days. Something light, “better than nothing” concepts. I’ve made a list of things to try, like situps, pushups, cycling, swimming, suspension training, etc. I’m not paying attention to heart rate such that I’m “exercising” perse, but just trying to keep my body guessing.