I love a challenge. When people tell me I can't do something, I set out to prove them wrong. The phrase "bustin' mine to kick yours" should be tattooed on my arm in big, scary-looking letters. For this reason, I've decided to begin a couch to 5K training program and chronicle my experiences through this blog. Ok, that's not entirely true.
I mean, yeah, I love to be challenged and all, and as a writer, doing a blog about it seems like a natural fit, but I'd much rather be sitting on my couch, eating a burger and watching football or the last three episodes of Boardwalk Empire that I have recored on TiVo. But instead, I'm sitting in front of my computer, finishing my salad and writing a column. When I'm done, I'll put on my sneakers and jump on the treadmill - or as I like to call it these days: the dreadmill.
I think maybe I'm just crazy. Maybe I have some kind of vitamin deficiency that's giving me a strange desire to have blisters on my feet, chafed thighs and no time to sit and be lazy. But despite my apparent lack of common sense, I've still decided to "put one foot in front of the other" and take on the challenge of running (not walking) my first 5K. Be prepared for many more running-related cliches, by the way - it's my only chance to be this cheesy.
Anyway, I know that for a lot of people, running a 5K is no big deal. Heck, I see people running all the time - in the gym, around the park, away from the annoying vendors that occupy those stands in the middle of the mall. They make it look so easy and, dare I say, fun (maybe THEY have vitamin deficiencies too). But for someone who's not only struggling to lose 50-plus pounds and get more physically active at the same time, it's not such an easy feet (See what I did there? I told you I'd be using running jargon).
Anyway, I figured that if I can easily do two Zumba classes in one morning, with a weightlifting class sandwiched in between, theoretically, running should be easy, right? Yeah, not so much. For those who already run (and are rolling their eyes right now), just skip the next paragraph altogether. For those who do not run, let me explain how running is way different than other cardiovascular activities.
Basically, running sucks. There, I said it. Here's the thing: although the process just involves moving forward at a pace quicker than a walk, you're suddenly putting pressure on muscles and joints that have, for much of your adult life, been blissfully ignored. So although you may be able to run a mile and not be too terribly winded and think you can keep going, your knees, ankles and leg muscles have other plans. It gives the phrase "feel the burn" a whole new meaning, even if you've been an obedient new runner and remembered to stretch first. Which I rarely do.
Ever since I've been telling people that I'm working my way up to a 5K run, I've gotten advice from athletes who have been there and done that. Often they're talking to me about things like proper form, hydration, energy gels (which sound ominous and yucky), recovery, carb-loading and various scenic routes that sound like they'd be lots of fun to check out - in my car. Maybe someday I'll be advanced enough to put those suggestions to good use but right now, I'm just trying to get through week two of the Couch to 5K app on my iPhone without cheating.
So, since I've decided to share my attempt at running a 5K race with my Patch readers, I guess I should give a little background about myself and fill you in on exactly what I'm doing to train. In all honesty, this blog is a perfect way for me to be accountable and work towards my goal. I strongly encourage you all to nag me, encourage me, tell me I'm crazy or e-mail me and share your experiences or advice (just don't tell me to consume energy gels - cuz it's not happening).
As I previously stated, I need to lose 50-plus pounds, which I'm doing through a combination of Weight Watchers and exercise. I've already lost about 50 pounds over the course of a few years by doing Weight Watchers, and after quitting for a while, I'm back on the wagon and have also begun to switch to a vegetarian diet (purely for health reasons - I have no problem consuming a nice, juicy steak).
I'm running at least 3-4 days a week, either on the treadmill or outside, weather permitting. The app on my iPhone basically trains me through timed periods of running and walking. I'm on my second week and my runs have become longer and so far, I've been able to keep up. My endurance has increased and coincidentally, my weight has dropped. Sweet! In addition to running, I take a variety of group fitness and strength training classes at my gym, which break up the monotony. I'm also lucky enough to have a really supportive group of friends - my gym family - that run 5K races and do triathlons. They inspire me and they totally rock! Being surrounded by physically active people is important for me and it's made exercising fun, which - let's face it - isn't always easy.
So I have a lot of support, but I also have a lot of challenges. Although I'm in better shape now than I probably every have been, I'm still not in great shape. I have a long way to go. I also have a ton of work and family obligations that drastically limit the time I have to run or get in any form of exercise. As a journalist, it's not uncommon for plans to be derailed by breaking news or an unexpected story. But nonetheless, I'm in this for the long haul and I'm taking all of you with me.
So for the next several weeks - or months - I'll be sharing my accomplishments as I try to get the hang of this whole running thing. More than likely, I'll use this column as a way to whine and vent about how much I'd rather be hanging out in my living room with a beer than running. But regardless, you'll all have the pleasure of reading about how I'm doing. Lucky you! I'm determined to be as honest as possible, which means admitting when I've had a bad day and when my blisters outnumber my toes. If this works out the way I've planned, my very last blog will be the one I write after I've crossed the finish line of my first race. Wish me luck!