Run For Your Life

Running is an unnatural act, except from enemies and to the bathroom.
— Unknown

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?

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14 thoughts on “Run For Your Life

  1. I’m doing that program too! The bad news is, it’s taken me 6 months. OK, I was sick for two and a half months in the middle but still. I’ve had to repeat many weeks and add sub-steps in the between the increases. I was a big walker before I started and still found it went way too fast for me by the middle.

    But hurrah for you in getting started. I remember walking in the park and seeing people whiz by and I’d think, “I want to be a runner too!”

    My advice is to make your own timed C to 5k playlists so that you don’t have to always look at your watch. You can do that in iTunes by going to the Options tab of a song’s info and changing the stop time to 2 minutes or 90 seconds or whatever.

    Have fun!

  2. Sweet!
    I’m sure you’ll be a lean mean running machine in no time!
    I’ve got nothing on the advice front.
    I run vicariously through Becca. Well and Lance and Paula too.

  3. AWESOME! How was the first day? I’m finally getting back to running myself after a loooong hiatus and it feels great.

    You’re right about it not being one’s “natural” state, but neither is a heart attack. (Or something, I suppose; if by “natural” we mean “preferred”.) Anything I can do to stave off the latter, sign me up. It is, for me, very stress reducing and–just generally–makes me feel better about my existence.

    Maybe it’s because it isn’t your body’s default, but I often feel like I can do more when I’m running–like I’m not accepting status quo–and then somehow that translates into productivity outside of running as well. Now this isn’t to insinuate that walking places–or some other workout, to be sure–is to “accepting status quo”; this is, of course, merely my perception of mysituation. My (lack of) dissertation will attest to “status quo”-dom in the other corners of my life, I’m sure!

    A friend who was an avid runner said that accountability is a major first step, so I started telling everyone that I was a runner and, what’s more, my goals. Seems like you’re onto that same logic here. Good luck, and keep us updated!

  4. Yay! I did C25K and loved it. I was amazed that I could run for 30 minutes by the end. I did repeat weeks, though, which was fine and helped. There are even marathon programs that encourage alternating running & walking, so the premise of the program is perfect.

    I have no advice — you already covered my basics: start slow and get fitted for sneakers by a pro. Oh, if you chafe, buy Body Glide. It may save your thighs!

  5. Thanks for all the advice (and Jake – you showed up! I forgot you were a runner too!). I added a tab to the top of my page for the C to 5K program so people can keep up, if they’re interested. And Becca and Julie, I fully expect to have to repeat weeks or add extra weeks with different intervals than they give. I just want to be able to run it by September (I’m hoping to come to Boston this year!), so I’m not in a hurry. On the other hand, when the goal is so far away, it’s easy to let things go, so I’m giving myself three months or so and then we’ll see where we are. I’m also telling people in real life, so I won’t be able to back out!

  6. Becca, that’s a great link – thanks for sharing! It actually answered a number of questions I had already, so that was perfect!

  7. I found your blog accidently through a friend, I think it’s wonderful. As for the running, I ran for 11 years, you’ll find a great group of people out there running, especially at the 5K’s or other events. I hope you like it. You have inspired me to get back out there!

    My advice is to go slow, what you’re already doing, putting running sections into your walks is an excellent way to start. Walking breaks in runs are OK!! And YES running for 15 minutes downhill COUNTS!

  8. Dawn, thanks for the encouragement! I checked out your blog and tried to comment on a post, but it said I wasn’t logged in, even though I was, and then when I went ahead and logged in, it said invalid user name, so I couldn’t comment, but I wanted you to know I stopped by. Thanks for the link!

  9. I thought it might have been my home computer, but I just tried from work and got the same problem. It looks like you have the option checked that required commenters to be logged in. Maybe if you uncheck that option, it will work? I have no idea!

  10. I just found your blog through another blog that I stalk. (don’t we all?) I started out on the Couch to 5k 3 and a half years ago, and now I’m training for a marathon. My second one. And I hated running when I started! Just go slow and find a partner. I can’t get out of bed unless I know someone is outside waiting for me!

    I love what I have read of your blog so far! I will definetly be back to check out more!

  11. Thanks for reading! I’m always encouraged to hear from other people who have done Couch to 5K and survived! I appreciate the advice!

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