Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

woman_joggerbackTraining 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.



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Clearly I’m not a “natural runner”.  Whatever that is.  (I suspect one begins by being born in Kenya.) 

However, I was raised to appreciate the benefits of  exercise, so when I started college, I fished around for something to keep off the freshman fifteen.  For a couple of years I toyed with aerobics classes, free weights,  gym equipment and even a few fitness videos (they were still videos then) before I tried running. 

Well, why not?  All an able-bodied person needs is athletic shoes, comfortable clothes and a place to run, right?  It’s cheap and accessible. My kind of activity.


This is not me. My form is, shall we say, slightly different. But that's a topic for another time.

Also, I was influenced by the runners I saw every day on the way to school and work.  Sparsely clothed and seemingly oblivious to everything around them, they ran through the steaming heat of summer and the biting winter temperatures.  Runners struck me as strong, independent and focused.  I wanted to be all of those things. 

Besides, I couldn’t do it and that bugged me.  Sure, I could run across the parking lot to catch my shopping cart before it crashed into a jet-black Hummer.  But I couldn’t run, steadily, for any respectable distance.  It didn’t feel good. And the so-called runner’s high apparently kicks in sometime after one city block because it continued to elude me.

Help came one wintery day in the form of a fitness magazine, one of those publications that feature women on the cover who are not only thinner than you are but have much cuter workout clothes too.  Somewhere past the product endorsements and Five Exercises to a Fitter Fanny, I discovered an article about training to run a 5k.   This article outlined a plan that would allow any person, at any level of fitness to gradually increase their running stamina until they could run 3.1 miles without stopping.  Brilliant!  It seemed much more reasonable than heading out the door to run a few miles once a year when the weather was nice and one just felt like a runner.

I was ready to start.  But an undertaking like this required  running clothes.  Not “athletic wear” from the local discount store but the real thing.  (Maybe not those silly looking shorty shorts with the built-in underwear, but something from a store where only runners shop.)

So the next time I inflict a running-related post upon you, my gentle readers, I’ll take you with me into a running store.  And just so you don’t suffer too much anxiety between now and then:  I didn’t set off an imposter alarm when I walked through the door;  I found the items I needed; they were even kind of cute.

Wishing I still fit into those running clothes,


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That’s what I used to think when, once a year, I laced up my shoes and hit the streets because I had decided that running was just the thing I needed in my fitness regime.  This usually occurred in the two-week balmy transition  between dreary winter and brutal summer.  (Also known as “spring” in Texas.) A sort of fitness-spring-fever hybrid, I suppose. 




And a fever is probably the only explanation for my sudden desire to run.

Here’s what would happen:

  1. With care, I dress for the endeavor, eager to feel the cool-edged spring warmth.  I imagine myself striding through our neighborhood  like the model in a fitness magazine I had picked up the night before.
  2.  I warm up and step outside.    I’m ready for this.  I can feel that I’m a  runner.
  3. I begin, giddy  with thoughts of how far  and how well I will run.
  4.  My shoes slap against the unforgiving pavement. The impact jars my body to the top of my skull. 
  5. Can this really be healthy for me?  Isn’t something about this supposed to feel good?
  6.  I am wheezing, gasping,  emitting sounds that no one under the age of ninety-nine should produce.
  7.  Legs trembling,  I bend over and brace myself against whatever solid  object is closest to me. My face is hot. My skin seems to throb.  But I did it! I ran around the entire block.
  8.  I stumble home and into the shower, wondering what sadomasochistic goofball coined the term “runner’s high”. 
  9. I’m grateful not to be in the hospital.

Apparently, twelve months was the length of time it took  my body to believe that the previous years were aberrations, that this year, I really was a runner,  because I repeated this nonsense every year for several years.

So how did I get to the point of  enjoying running so much that I dream about the day when I can do it again?  I’ll save that for another post.  But I promise, I made it there without self-torture, hypnosis, or a lung transplant.

Eager to run again,


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