- everything’s fine the way it is right now.
- i can kick this seasonal affective disorder by just WILLING it away, right?
- those pants must have shrunk in the wash.
- man, the MTA loves to torture me with all of those flights of stairs in the subway stations. i can’t even!
- a few whiskeys now and then never hurt anyone!
- i’m not exhausted. i’m just tired.
- everything’s fine the way it is now.
not long after my 37th birthday, i decided to stop bullshitting myself. first, i decided to stop drinking for a year. not long after that, i walked myself over to the store to buy a pair of running shoes.
crazy, i know, because whiskey and late night snacks are awesome. but the hangovers and tummy-aches were taking their toll on my body and emotional well being. whiskey, it turned out, was decidedly not awesome. plus, i’d been thinking about taking up running for a few years. yes. i thought about it for a few years. and did nothing. for those of us who were of the moody shoe-gazer persuasion back in the 90s, we (as adults) tend to think things deep into the ground until there’s nothing but a fresh mound of dirt left in their place. it’s pretty self-indulgent. if you couple this mindset with a full-time job, a family, and depression, you will see why i made i made every excuse NOT to start up running. turns out, i’d buried both of my legs into the ground as well.
several weeks ago, i celebrated my one-year runniversary which means it took me a WHOLE year before i started this website. the website that i’d been thinking about since that day i laced up for the first time and stumbled out the door. old habits die hard. give me credit though. i was busy logging in the miles!
a few days before i headed out the door on my first run, i had no idea where to start. initially i thought i needed to run non-stop in order to be a “real runner.” the thought of having to stop to walk in the middle of a run made me worry that i would look like a total failure. in front of whom, though?!? the old lady walking her dog down the block? the little kids playing on their stoops? the dude on the corner mashing buttons on his cellphone? the short answer? NO ONE CARES, so why should i?
luckily, i saw a link to the Couch-to-5K plan via some friends on Facebook that week. after poking around, i read the following on their website:
Too many people have been turned off of running simply by trying to start off too fast. Their bodies rebel, and they wind up miserable, wondering why anyone would possibly want to run in the first place.
You should ease into your 5K training plan gradually. In fact, the beginners’ program we outline here is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program. The idea is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you to begin running a 5K or 3.1 miles and on a regular basis in just two months.
“holy crap!” i thought, “this is the plan! sign me the eff up!”
as was expected/dreaded, my first run was incredibly challenging. i was winded. every block on my neighborhood route loomed ahead of me in a menacing, fun-house mirror kind of way. I savored every walk break like it was the last pinky finger scoop of nutella out of the jar. i didn’t use the kind of accoutrements that i now use on my runs (arm band, running app, compression sleeves, etc). they really weren’t necessary at the time. i just needed to put myself out there and get through the prescribed plan that the website laid out for me.
the only problem with reflecting back on those days now that i’m a year out is that I don’t quite remember what was going on through my mind during those runs. i do recall arguing with myself as to whether or not i wanted to run every day. luckily, i found that if i simply went through the motions of putting on my running clothes and shoes, that I would eventually find myself trotting up the street away from my apartment. i’m happy to say that i never went on a run that i regretted nor have i ever decided to stay home and seethe over it.
i was delighted to find that every run became much easier than the last. i stuck with the couch to 5k plan for a while until i felt like i could go rogue about a month in. with a rebel yell, i put a playlist together and mapped out running distances before i headed out. i didn’t want to know how fast (or slow) i was running. i just wanted to get out there and move my body, holding my head high with my arms pumping back and forth as if to elbow the old shoe-gazer in me out of the way.