Genesis of an Idea
I’ve been going to the gym solidly for a year now, alternating doing the weight machine circuit and 30+ minutes on the elliptical machine. I routinely do about 4 miles on the elliptical and have gone from barely being able to catch my breath to powering through some good interval training.
Last fall, my son took up Cross Country at school and I remembered how much I loved running in the woods as a kid and how fun it would be to do again. And I’ve gotten terribly bored with the elliptical. Aside from discovering new music (via the excellent-for-workouts Songza app) there’s little to do. I’ve tried reading but I bounce too much and audio books aren’t conducive to power sprints.
Then I read an excellent article in The Magazine, titled “Second Wind” by Chris Higgins, which introduced me to the Couch to 5K (C25K) Program. The very same day, The Oatmeal published “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distance” and something clicked in my brain and I decided that I wanted to give running a try.
I have avoided it for a long time now because I am overweight. I’m much better than I was, but I still have a ways to go. And my knees hurt and make scary crackling noises when I go up stairs. I figured my body was in no shape for any kind of impact exercise. But I noticed that on the C25K program, the author indicated that he weighed the same thing I weigh when he started the program, was a few years older than me, and was a smoker (I’m not) and I figured that I had no real excuses. If my knees couldn’t handle it, I’d stop or at least see my doctor about alternatives rather than not trying at all. Maybe they hurt because I baby them too much.
So, on Friday, I went to Rhode Runner and they watched me walk and jog on their indoor track and picked out a few different running shoes to try on. The first ones I tried on, a pair of Brooks, felt wonderful. Nice and light, good cushioning for the impact, good arch support (I’m a flat foot), and a wide, flat base to compensate for my ankles turning inwards as I walk (so that’s why I always twist my ankles!) I also grabbed some good running socks and some neat water bottles that strap to your hand and planned to start Monday morning. I figured I’d make Jack go with me so he could train for his fall Cross Country season and because, quite honestly, I doubt I could do this without him with me.
Monday July 22, 2013: I Begin Running
It took us a long time to get out of the house but we finally made it out. The first day’s plan is a 5 minute brisk walk, then 60 seconds of jogging alternating with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes and then a final 5 minute walk. We live just off the Cranston Bike Path so that was the obvious place to do this. It’s nice and flat and pretty empty early in the morning.
I walk all the time (less than I used to as I have mostly replaced my long walks with the elliptical, but still) so that part was just fine. My new sneakers felt wonderful (I’d spent all weekend breaking them in). Then the jogging part began.
The first two or three 60 second sessions went just fine. And then it began to hurt. I figured it would be my knees first off but they were fine. Where it got me was the backs of my calves. Holy cats they burned! Clearly, I need to do more stretching before I go!
My the seventh of eight jogging interval was hell. I was tired, starting to get out of breath, and my calves were on fire. (My knees and feet felt great, go figure!) and I seriously questioned whether I could handle doing the eighth. But I pushed through and survived it.
The walk home was up hill but that was nothing after what I had accomplished and I felt amazing. Day 1 was a success.
Wednesday July 24, 2013: Oh. My. God.
Tuesday was a day of pain. My legs hurt. Especially the backs of my calves and the fronts of my thighs. My knees, amazingly enough, were just fine. I kept hoping that when I woke up Wednesday morning, they’d be fine.
They weren’t. They were better, but they still hurt. Going down to the basement bathroom to weigh in was an exercise in OUCH and my next stop after the scale was the medicine cabinet to down three Ibuprofen.
The initial walk was just fine, no surprises there. When I began the first jogging interval, I started right where I left off: pain, pain, and more pain. This time, it was less my calves and more the very tops of my thighs where they connect to my torso (hips maybe? I’m fuzzy on the anatomy). I have never experienced pain there before and it was a new and nasty experience.
I soldiered on despite the pain and kept on moving. Each interval was worse and by the fifth I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to finish today’s workout.
Then the gnats came and my walks became less about recovery and more about swatting them away. I must have looked like a mad man!
But I pushed on. And my son started looking at me like he was worried I was going to die or something but I pushed on. My iPhone helpfully provided some good motivation with Aerosmith’s Walk this Way and New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle and I did it. I got through the workout. I got home and stretched everything out and drank more water.
Now we’ll have to wait and see how Friday goes… I’m understandably nervous. I have a very hard time believing that I will be capable of running a 5K in just 8 weeks…