I’ve been diligently running the past few weeks, so I figure it’s high time for an update.
In short: Running is still hard, but it’s getting a little easier. One foot in front of the other.
The catch-22 with running, though, is that just when it gets easier you add some time or pile on the distance, which instantly makes it harder.
Even worse? Running is supposed to be hard. That’s the whole point. It’s an activity that challenges your body, your lungs, your heart, your muscles. That’s another one of my battle cries (along with: never quit on day two!) Being tired or out of breath isn’t a reason to stop. It’s just an indicator that you’re moving forward.
Remember my training plan? Well, I haven’t stuck to it in the least. I have a baby, people, I have to be flexible. After the first week of running 2 miles, jumping up to three seemed too daunting. Instead, I decided to run 2, then 2.5, then 3. Then David got a round of vaccines on the 3-mile day. He was just so pitiful I just didn’t have the heart to take him out of his crib so I could run 3 miles.
The next week I started over; back to 2 miles. Then it rained on my “long run” day. I’m not taking my baby out in the rain.
In the meantime it dawned on me: distance runners only do one long run a week. So why was I making myself run “long” three times? If I’m training for a 5ish mile race, I don’t need to run 5 miles three times a week. It’s silly, really. Instead, I decided to focus on running more and walking less rather than adding distance so quickly. So far I’ve run 3 miles so far without stopping and it wasn’t horrible.
Added benefit: the switch gave me some serious instant gratification. My mile times plummeted from 13 minutes, to 12 minutes, to 11 minutes in no time. I know there’s a low ceiling to that kind of improvement (for me, anyway) so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
I’m also enjoying this weather. Let me tell you something that might make you gasp: Fall is not my favorite season. In fact, it irritates me.
I know I’m part of the extreme minority here, but I think fall has all you pumpkin spice latte people fooled. (Pumpkins have you fooled, too. Pumpkin doesn’t taste that great, cinnamon and nutmeg and sugar do. Have you ever tried raw pumpkin? It tastes like a potato.) Sure, it’s cooler. Sure, the leaves are pretty. But fall leads straight into winter, and I just can’t look past that. In the meantime, MAN is this some seriously awesome running weather. Great weather = just one less excuse. (It IS getting dark SO early, though! Stupid fall.)
I know we’re talking short distances and SLOW running, here. That point is driven home every time my husband comes in from a 10-mile run and says it was “boring” because he had to run 8-minute miles. That tidbit aside: exercise is hard. It’s especially hard when you’re just starting out, or sleep-deprived, or dealing with kids, there’s something good on TV, or a million other reasons. My theory with exercise has always been that you should do what you enjoy, ‘cause if you don’t enjoy it you won’t do it. I could probably push myself harder, but I just don’t want to. EVERY time I do something new I wake up sore. I did 10 girl push-ups yesterday while David was doing tummy time. This morning? Sore. EVERY time I run I’m sore the next day, no matter how far or fast the run. That tells me I’m pushing myself hard enough thankyouverymuch.
I’m sure I’ll crank up the intensity someday, because I like that part of running, too. I like the way running makes you feel a good kind of tired, I love achy legs after a long run, and there’s nothing better than the surprise of a really great race time. For now, though, running is a little more simple.
The 8k is only a few weeks away. My head is spinning with the logistics of how to get to a race when you have a baby. I’m sure it’s easy and I’m sure it’ll happen without a hitch, but I’m a new mom and I’m nervous about most everything.
…including running five miles without stopping. Whew.