Training myself to run was one of the best things I ever did. When I completed my ultimate goal of running thirty minutes without stopping, I established a significant reference point for the rest of my life.
If I can make myself a runner, I would think, I can tackle that problem, survive this ordeal, figure that out, etc.
I know, running nonstop for thirty minutes is hardly climbing Mt. Everest, but it was daunting enough that the sense of accomplishment seared itself into my memory. It also taught me an invaluable lesson about breaking down an overwhelming task into manageable portions.
That’s exactly what my new running regimen did for me. It was actually a run/walk program, a way of easing my body into the habit of running endurance. I had one thirty-minute workout every other day. Every two weeks the amount of walking would decrease and the running would increase.
For the first two weeks I ran one minute and walked four minutes for half an hour. During weeks three and four, I ran two minutes then walked three. (Each session was bookended by a few minutes of walking and stretching.)
I’ve just got to say it again: it was so much better than simply deciding to be a runner one day and heading out the door for a “cold turkey” three mile run!
I wish I could say that my new program made running a breeze. The truth is that it was still hard. The training schedule made it easier, more manageable, but my body still had to endure the discipline necessary for me to become a runner. At the end of my first few workouts, it was near-agony to run for sixty seconds.
But then, by the end of that first two weeks running for a minute was no longer a challenge. My body and mind longed to be pushed a little harder, a longing I immediately regretted during the next training segment! This cycle repeated itself each time I entered a new two-week phase.
I remember visiting my family once during the early part of the 3/2 phase. My younger brother joined me for my daily run, playing drill sergeant when he thought I needed to pick up the pace and match the rate his six-foot, three-inch body managed. It wasn’t bad actually. I had never run with a partner before during my new training routine and it felt good to have the encouragement.
Then, in the very last week of training, during which I ran for the entire thirty minutes, something wonderful happened. Shortly after the first mile, an incredible sense of energy and strength infused my body. I felt as if I had been made to run. I quit watching the time and simply ran until it didn’t feel good anymore, just a little over four miles.
Finally, I understood “runner’s high.” And I’m hooked for life.
Next time: re-training or, wondering if the high is gone forever.