You guys. You know how I kind of hate running? And, well, most exercise in general? You probably also know that I write about it as a bit of a humorous outlet. And to encourage others (because if I can do it, I swear YOU can do it!).
Well, I’ve reached a milestone. Today I ran 5 kilometers in the for-real outside world. Without stopping.
Some of you probably think that’s not very noteworthy, or even that I should be embarrassed instead of proud of that accomplishment. Those readers are kindly invited to go do some one-armed pull-ups instead of reading further. This post is not for you.
I want to share this journey with you, any readers who are still here. Those of you who honestly can’t imagine that you could ever run 5k. (That’s about 3.1 miles, if that is more tangible.)
A few months ago, I was training to participate in a 5k mud/obstacle run. I had signed up with some friends because we thought it would be fun and we IN NO WAY intended to actually race. We just wanted to play on the obstacles. So, I was doing some core and strength training in hopes of being able to accomplish most of the obstacles.
Then one day, it occurred to me that I didn’t really have any concept of how far 5 kilometers was and whether or not I could even walk that far, nevermind adding the obstacles in, plus the teensy detail of the freaking ski slopes on which said obstacles were to be located.
I had to haul my backside onto the treadmill and get a feel for 5 k.
Okay, that wasn’t too bad. I knew I could walk the distance…if the distance was flat…which it was not. So I started adjusting my speed and/or incline every half kilometer. Then I gradually decided to try running (instead of walking) some of those half-kilometer increments. And then sometimes I decided to get off the treadmill every half kilometer and do a one-minute plank, or a hundred crunches, or some other strength/core move.
That was my training.
The day of the race came and it was amazing! I was the slowest member of our team (except when one of our girls fell on an obstacle and sprained her ankle. She tried to keep going for a while, thus officially becoming the slowest one…but that was about the speed that I would’ve preferred to go anyway). Shortly thereafter, she decided to call the medics and meet us at the finish line. The rest of us carried on.
I am so proud of finishing the course. There were only two obstacles that I didn’t fully complete, plus one that I needed help with, and one that I fell off but was able to climb back on and finish. I did it! It was exhausting and so much fun and I DID IT!!!
I had thought that completing that run was my goal. That’s what I’d been training for. But completing it was so empowering. I readily signed up for another one this fall, and re-registered for the same race next June.
Now that I have a better idea of what to expect, I wanted to improve my endurance and speed so I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed through the whole course. I kept doing my 5 k on the treadmill, but tried to increase how much of that I was able to run. When I got up to 3 k of running, I decided to try running outside. Oh boy, that is a different monster altogether! I failed miserably at that first (and second) attempt.
I kept trying, even during our family camping trip. I had previously mapped out the roads outside the campground so I would know exactly where my 1.5k turnaround point was. And I did it! I ran 3 kilometers without stopping! I did it 3 times that week.
Then, when we got home, I added another kilometer to my route.
Some days, I went back to the treadmill. (Sometimes you just need to set your pace, turn on “Grey’s Anatomy” and turn off your brain.) Soon I was able to do 5 k inside – and that was big for me! But I knew I had to do it out on the road – with wind and gravel and cars going by.
Today was the day that I did it. 5 full kilometers. Outside. No stopping.
There is still no part of me that is thinking, “Whee! This is fun!” No, I don’t enjoy it yet. I would still much prefer to be on the hammock with a Caesar and a good book. But something has definitely shifted. I’m starting to feel empowered by the process.
And that is why I’m writing now. The empowerment. You know I’m no fitness guru. You know about my thigh-chafing and back-roll-chafing. You know how long I’ve hated all of it. BUT after alllllllll these months of hating it and not feeling like I was getting anywhere, I CAN RUN FIVE KILOMETERS! And that means you can, too!
No matter how far away you are from that goal right now, you can get off the couch and do SOMETHING to move your body. Work up a sweat. Bend, stretch, dance, go up and down the stairs, walk, play soccer with your kids…do something. And tomorrow, do it a teensy bit further or longer or faster. Try different things or do the same thing everyday – whatever works for you. Just start moving…and then a bit more.
I did it. I’m going to keep doing it. And YOU CAN DO IT!