Running is an unnatural act, except from enemies and to the bathroom.
I actually had my own version of that quote long before I ever knew someone had really said it: The only reason to run is if someone’s chasing you or you have to pee. I held onto that mantra for a long time, but the idea of running really appeals to me. I work out pretty regularly, and when I’m on my walks outside, I often will start jogging for a while and try to alternate throughout my walk, and it makes me feel strong. The most I’ve ever jogged at a clip is 15 minutes, but that was all downhill, so I don’t think it counts.
But, as part of my recommitment to Weight Watchers and my health in general, I’ve decided to become a “runner.” This may end up being one of my grand plans that starts out well and ends badly, but that’s part of why I’m putting it out here – I’m less likely to slack off if there’s a possibility that other people will find out about it.
I’d been hearing about the Couch to 5K program over at Cool Running, so I checked it out. I think it’s a very doable program – three workouts a week for 9 weeks, gradually increasing the time/distance spent running until you can run a 5K in about 30 minutes. I have to say, I’m skeptical that my short self can run a 10-minute mile – that’s a 6 mph pace, and my legs are simply not that long (I start running on the treadmill at just above 4 mph). But I’m not really in it for speed, at least not yet; I just want to be able to run continuously for 30+ minutes.
Because it’s only a 30-minute workout on each of the three days a week, and I need more cardio than that to get rid of these last 35-40 pounds, I plan to still do my usual elliptical and weight work on the off days, and maybe a bit after on the running days. I think running will be such a different workout than I am used to, and I’m hopeful that it will do good things for my body, in more ways than one.
In addition to checking out Cool Running and reading all their tips on getting started, I realized I needed some new sneakers. Usually I’d just go get the cutest pair of New Balance and be done with it, but I decided that if I am serious about this, I need to be prepared. So I went to Pacers in Old Town this afternoon, which is a running store (side note: I’d never been to Old Town before, and it reminded me of Boston; of course, I’ve only been to Boston once, so I could be way off base). I made sure to do a full workout this morning and then run errands so that my feet were not fresh-out-of-bed (you’re not supposed to buy shoes in the morning) (oh, and I showered before I went there, of course – I feel bad for shoe salespeople, because, seriously – feet?).
The lovely Denise listened carefully as I expressed my newfound desire to become a real runner and my longtime loyalty to New Balance, then had me take off my sneakers. She took one look at them and said, “Those are probably not right for you.” Which I knew, because they’re not running shoes, plus they’re a year old, but I felt bad for my purple shoes anyway. She was sure I needed a 9 1/2 instead of my usual 9, because your feet swell when you run, apparently. I gave in, because she’s the expert – she said as long as your heel is snug and doesn’t move in the shoe, you’re good to go. So I put on the 9 1/2, and then came my least favorite part (which I knew was coming, but still): she took me outside and had me run half a block so she could see how they fit. We did that with two pairs of NB, and she wasn’t convinced they were right for me.
I told her I trusted her and if she thought there was another brand that would be a better fit, I was open to it. So she brought a pair of Saucony and one of another brand I didn’t recognize. I tried them both and demo’d my run for her. She said either of them were better than the NB, so it was up to me. The unrecognizable pair were trimmed in purple (!) but in the end, the Saucony won out for comfort and styling (the purple ones looked like bricks on my feet). She also talked me into some fancy running socks, so we’ll see how that works out.
So now I’m officially invested in this running thing. I really want to do it; I never thought I’d want to be a runner, but I think I do. It just seems so freeing, you know? I just have this idea that it’s you and the road (and your iPod) and you can go wherever it takes you for as long as you want. I am committed to the 9-week Couch to 5K program. If I hate it after that, I can stop, but I need to do that much to see if it’s right for me, I think.
I’m starting Monday. I know some of you are runners; any advice for me?