You guys, I’ve been doing something. Something I never thought I would do.
I’ve been running. Not away from anything. Not towards anything. Just running.
And…I think I like it.
It’s Winter, and we all tend to get a little bit…padded during the colder months, yes? Well, I decided that this Winter I wasn’t going to let myself go. From a weight point of view and from a fitness point of view. Basically, as the months get colder and I do less and less exercise, I get more and more lethargic and I don’t like that feeling. I have a toddler, I need to have a decent amount of energy to keep up with her and with all the stuff that comes with life – working, household stuff, having to get up early and therefore needing a good night’s sleep the night before, etc.
We’re also saving for a few things and we’re going on a holiday to Hawaii in a couple of months, so I needed a mode of exercise that’s free and that I can do whenever I find a half hour window, but it had to be something that I could do by myself. My little shadow at home finds great delight in trying to play with my fitball when I’m attempting sit ups, or she stands in front of me dancing and laughing when I try to do an at home aerobic workout in front of the TV. I’d been going for walks sporadically during the last year, but I felt like they just weren’t enough, you know? I was glad to be outside and getting some fresh air, but I would come home and not feel as though I had exerted myself.
Now, exerting oneself isn’t a bad thing, but I feel I must clarify. I am NOT a fan of those horrible “inspirational” posters you see online that say things like “Run until you want to throw up and die. Then KEEP RUNNING” or “If you’re not crying from the pain you’re not working HARD ENOUGH!” Like, stop shaming my stamina levels, Pinterest. You don’t know me, you don’t know what my life is, so shut up! I just think they promote a very unhealthy level of competition amongst people and encourage people to put unrealistic pressure on themselves. Being competitive when you’re running or working out is fine, it’s healthy to have a bit of competition to make you move for an extra kilometre or an extra ten minutes, or do another thirty reps of some kind on fancy weight machine. But do we really need to be told that if we aren’t about to throw up we aren’t working out enough? Excuse me while I roll my eyes and eat another Tim Tam.
I recently saw a discussion online about finding the motivation to just get up off the couch and exercise. One of the people said something that helped them was just to think “Get up and go. Go. NOW” because no matter how slow you walk or how short the distance, you’ve still done more than you would have done sitting on the couch. I thought about that a lot for a week or two (while I sat on the couch, obviously). As long as you have some runners and a pair of shorts and t-shirt you’ve got everything you need to get started. Then I decided two things: I was going to make a concerted effort to go out for a walk after work at least two nights a week and on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s just four times a week and that was totally achievable. The second thing I decided was that I was going to make a really, really concerted effort to jog a bit during each walk, and just see how I went.
I’ve tried the Couch to 5K app a number of times and it never did a lot for me. I found that I was focused on waiting for the beep to sound so that I could stop running I ended up mentally begging myself to stop running before I heard it because I knew it was coming. It was a real mental roadblock for me. I know lots of other people who’ve had a lot of success with the C25K program, but I just think it’s not for me. So I thought “I’ll just jog a bit at intervals while I walk and see how I go.” So I did. I started making myself run for two block. Just two suburban blocks. Then I’d stop and walk a bit. Then after a while I’d jog another two blocks. Then I’d stop a bit. After the first week or so I started making myself jog three blocks. Then I’d walk for a bit. Then I’d jog another three blocks. You get the drift.
This was about a month ago. My route is about two kilometres or so, I would estimate. Maybe three kilometres, I’ve never actually measured it. But I’m now at a point where I can run for three quarters of it. There is no one more surprised about this than I am. Previously when I’d try jogging, I’d do it about three times and stop because it was just too hard. I am not an athletic person and I do not have great stamina, so I can’t believe what I can do after just a month. I’m now also at a point where when I get home from work, I actually WANT to go out and run. It’s freezing and foggy and dark, but I rug myself up, plug my headphones in and just get out there in the crisp night air and see how far I can go.
When I run, I have to have really, really great music to keep me energized or I just feel myself slowing down and I feel my brain start to try and tell me to stop, so pushing past those thoughts is hard. And sometimes I do stop, at least a few times, which is FINE. I walk a block or two and catch my breath, but then I increase my pace again and I keep going. I also think one of the reasons I’m starting to enjoy it is because I like having the time by myself. I think about my day and I let my brain clear itself out of work stuff and household stuff. I think about things I need to do and mentally plan my next few days. I think about the future and all the stuff I want to achieve outside of being a wife and mother. Sometimes I just think about running and how it would be so great to build up enough stamina to try and run the Mother’s Day Classic next year. Mostly I just enjoy having the time to think, uninterrupted, and listen to some great music. It’s not about pushing myself to the edge or about pounding the concrete so hard I want to collapse in a heap at home. It’s about having some time by myself and feeling fit and healthy.
And, like I said, I’m actually starting to enjoy it. I can’t believe it either.
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