I have started back up training for a 5K race. As I have said before, this is a huge deal for me. For most people, running 5K is not a huge deal, but I am the kid that always came in dead last in the junior high gym class mile run. After that humiliation I gave up most things aerobic and became a very sedentary sloth for the next decade. As a young mother I started exercising again, but over the last fourteen years I have alternated these periods of fitness with periods of debilitating pregnancy. I'm starting from pretty close to the bottom of the pile, and I've got a long way to go.
A year ago when I was living with my in-laws and had their extra help, I had a daily exercise routine. I walked every afternoon after my nap and before dinner. Each day I went father, until most days I was walking a full 5K. Yay! I knew I could walk the distance. Now, how to run it? I came up with a plan that felt doable for me. I decided that I would keep walking the 5K every other day. On alternate days, I would go for a 1-mile "run." I use the word "run" very loosely. I plotted a 1-mile loop on gmap-pedometer.com, and every time I did it I would run as much of it as I could. I had heard people say they started out by alternating running 10 steps with walking 10 steps. For me, I started out running 10 steps and then walking 50 steps. Or more. But you have to start somewhere.
There was definitely a voice in my head that said "you're so bad at this that it's obvious this isn't for you. You're not like the people who run, you never have been. Why are you even trying?" And honestly, I'm not totally sure why I'm doing this. I have found methods of exercising that I like much, much better than running. Why did I get that bee in my bonnet about running a 5K? I don't know, but for whatever reason it won't go away, and it's great to have a specific, measurable goal.
Things were coming along, but then my goal dropped off my radar screen when we moved to Kansas last spring. For most of last year, I was just trying to keep my nose above water taking care of all my responsibilities. I knew though, that as soon as I could, I would start training again.
The time is now.
I started back up with my 1-mile runs last week. I still can't run a mile, by the way. But I think I can almost jog half of it at this point, in chunks. Starting next month I am going to gradually start increasing the distance, even if I still can't jog all of it. I figure if I add half a mile each month, I can do 3 miles by the end of May, which is prime 5K season. I hope it works.
Honestly, when I run, I feel like I am made of cement, dragging a ball and chain, and traveling upstream through peanut butter. I can't say that I enjoy it, and mostly the dominant thought in my head is "it takes less than 20 minutes. You can suffer through it." But! I love the way I feel when I'm done. LOVE it! That's what keeps me going back for more.
They said that my ability to run would increase every day, and it does. Honestly, I am surprised at how fast this happens. It makes it kind of exciting. Instead of dreading the day's run, you look forward to seeing how much farther you are going to run before you have to switch back to walking. I pick out landmarks as I jog: mailboxes, lightposts, fire hydrants. Yesterday I could only jog to the red mailbox; today I made it to the fire hydrant 5 yards beyond!
Also, it's fun to watch my time come down. For the record, last Monday I did the mile loop in 17 minutes and 17 seconds. I am telling you that because it's pretty pathetic, so it makes a great "before," don't you think? Yesterday, my time was 15:54. Isn't that cool? It's still pathetic, but it's a huge improvement. And I hope that by sharing my pathetic-ness I can be an inspiration to someone. If you also want to run but are afraid of being so turtle-y slow that you shouldn't even bother to try, remember there's me out there. I'll be your turtle running buddy amongst all those crazy running rabbits.
I think for my first 5K I might buy that shirt that says "I'm slower than Internet Explorer on 90's Dial-Up, But I Run."