In March of this year I decided to start running. I’ve decided to start running before and it hasn’t worked out that well for me. The most I had ever run up to this point in my life was around 3.5 miles but that wasn’t without threatening the lives of Devin’s entire family. If you’re curious, just ask me about it. I’ve always hated running because it was hard, felt like torture, and honestly, I never gave it enough time to get past the initial few months of difficulty to start to enjoy it.
But I was determined this time for a few reasons. One, I’m 33 years old and I’ve realized that it’s kind of “now or never” in regard to building in a physical discipline into my life that keeps me healthy and feeling good. It seems this is generally a turning point for people to either let themselves go or do the work necessary to establish healthy physical rhythms. And after knowing that hereditarily my Triglyceride level on it’s own would be over 500, I can’t really let myself go. It’s just not an option if I want to be around for my kids as they grow up (God willing).
So in March, I made a really good decision; I began the Couch to 5K program which I would recommend to anyone who is a beginning runner. It’s slow, it’s enjoyable, and the goals are attainable.
After the 9 week program, in June I ran my first two 5k runs and loved the experience. I wasn’t setting records, but was finishing and walking away feeling good. In the first week of August I ran a 10k on the waterfront that was also enjoyable although eating Lardo the night before isn’t what I would recommend to others. I never thought I would look at my running app and see “7 miles” on it. In October I’m going to run a 15K and am planning on running a half marathon with my sister in the Spring/Summer of 2014.
Accomplishing these goals has been a huge mental and physical boost. After two knee surgeries and a shoulder surgery and high triglycerides I had begun to wonder if I’ve got anything left physically and this has shown me that I do. It’s been a fulfilling six months and I am incredibly thankful that I’ve done the work and have been able to reap the rewards.
Here are some things I’ve learned.
- I used to believe that some people are runners and others aren’t. I placed myself in the latter category. And certainly some individuals are more athletically inclined than others. But I’ve realized after running for six months that the “I’m not a runner” mentality is a myth. It’s a discipline like most things in life. And if you put in the work, you will see progress.
- The Couch to 5K program is the way to go. If you’ve placed yourself in the “non-runner” category in the past, this is the program you want. It slowly builds up muscle and stamina without killing you. Previous attempts to run always wiped me out in the first week and left me HATING running.
- The first mile or two is usually the hardest. You can’t judge how a run is going to be off of the first two miles alone. It takes time to settle in and for your lungs and legs to adjust.
- Only about 1 out of 5 runs actually feels good and isn’t terribly difficult. But I NEVER regret going out for a run even if it feels like torture at the time. Don’t be discouraged on those days, feel good that you didn’t give up even though it felt so hard.
- One of the more difficult aspects of running is the mental challenge. It’s weird to set out to run 5 or 6 miles and to KNOW your body can do it (especially when it’s done it before) but feel like it’s impossible on this particular day. The work on the hard days is largely mental, continually telling yourself that your body is fully capable, to just keep moving your feet.
- You know it’s going to be a good run when you’re not battling your lungs or your legs. A lot of runs at this point, it seems like either your legs or lungs are tired. But now and again you hit that sweet spot where it feels like you can go forever. I love those days.
- I’ve been running for six months and haven’t lost a pound…and I don’t even care. I didn’t start running to lose weight and it reinforced what I already learned earlier in life. Working out alone isn’t going to lose you pounds. Only changing diet will do that. The combo of the two is even better.
- I haven’t posted any of my running stats on Twitter or Facebook. Part of the reason is due to a joke that I was playing (again, you can ask me in person if you really want to know), and part of it is because I’m not running to impress anyone or receive attention. I’m not doing this so I can post stats of how far or fast I can run. I’m running for myself and my family and that is satisfaction on it’s own. I’m sure as I go on, I will post a few of those in the future after a long race or a run that I’m particularly proud of, but I realize that largely no one cares how long or how often I run and I try to make it a habit to not irritate people. You’re welcome 🙂
This is the first time in my life that working up to a marathon has not seemed like a complete impossibility. Still seems like a stretch, but who knows what will happen in the next few years.