One week ago today, I sent the following message to Twitter and Facebook: “Hey, runners: Is it unrealistic for me to go from out of shape to completely trained for a half marathon in 10 weeks? Am I crazy?”
See, I had just decided that I was going to be a runner — if not permanently, then at least for the next ten weeks while training for the Des Moines Marathon.1 Keep in mind the fact that not once in my entire life have I run for “pleasure”. In fact, I don’t think I can recall a single positive running-related experience.2
I received lots of feedback (“You can do it!” and/or “You’re insane!”), but my favorite response was from Shawn, a great friend of mine: “Remember how you got really good at poker really fast? Or how you got really good at playing guitar really fast? So, I think if you use that same mentality you can pretty much do anything. Also, listen to our favorite christmas song while running and you’ll be fine. You’ll probably go really fast actually.” And he’s right: I have a history of developing small-scale obsessions, and running is a convenient remedy for my most recent bout of obsessionlessness.
One week and four runs later, here are a few of my initial thoughts.
It’s as much about how you feel afterwards as it is about the exercise itself
I’ve participated in some 10-week workout programs in the last couple years, so I’m familiar with working out in the mornings. I’m also familiar with how awake and alert I can be after a morning workout. I was reminded of this the morning of my first run — I arrived at work feeling energized and alert, whereas I’m usually dragging along with a coffee cup attached to my face.
So even if I’m not particularly looking forward to getting up early for a run, I can at least look forward to how good I’ll feel when the run is over with.
There’s something about every run worth celebrating
I’ve been using RunKeeper to record my runs, and it’s been great to see my stats immediately afterwards — total distance, average speed, average 1-mile pace, &c. With the help of RunKeeper, I’m able to see that one run had an average pace of 11:17/mile, and the very next run had an average pace of 10:54/mile. I walked more than I would have liked during the latter run, but that’s the point — I was able to find something worth celebrating anyway. During my most recent run, I was unhappy with my inability to breathe well, but I was happy that I ran all of the last 1/2 mile.
I’m not naïve. I know that I’ll have runs that suck. But so far, I’m finding it relatively easy to find something worth celebrating after each run, and I hope to continue with that attitude in the future.
It feels good to be aware of my physical body
My daily routine essentially consists of getting up, showering, driving to work, sitting at my desk for 6-8 hours, driving home, and sitting around either watching TV, reading, or spending time online. None of those activities requires much awareness of my physical body; outside of eating (where I’m acutely aware of how hungry or full I am), most of my time is spent “in my head”.
Running, on the other hand, is a forceful reminder that yes, I do have a physical body. From the burning in my lungs during the run to the pain in my calves afterward, I’m actually enjoying the experience of becoming familiar with my own body — its pain threshold, its stamina, its strengths and weaknesses. And I have no doubt that I’ll enjoy feeling my body’s continual transformation as I continue training.
As for the #RunRevRun hashtag in the title of this post: RunRevRun is an identifier for “pastors and friends to share stories about trying to keep — or get — fit.” There’s a standalone website/blog, and the #RunRevRun hashtag is fun to follow on Twitter. As the website’s About page says,
Part of the challenge of working as ministers is that people sometimes view you differently —as if that extra cookie won’t go to your waistline, or time to exercise is automatically built into our schedules. We’re faith leaders, but that doesn’t mean healthy lives come easy. We struggle to get fit, to stay motivated, [and] to eat well.
That pretty much sums it up. So if you see me blogging or tweeting with the #RunRevRun hashtag, just think of it as me seeking counsel and accountability from those in the same boat as me.
- Roughly five minutes after deciding to run a half marathon (13.1 miles?!), I set my sights a bit lower on a more-reasonable 5K. [↩]
- E.g.: In junior high, I participated in track as a high- and long-jumper, and dabbled in 400m races here and there. At one Wednesday-night track meet, my coach, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone but him, penciled me in for an 800m race. I finished the race in last place, immediately threw up on the closest patch of grass I could find, and hopped in the car to go to Confirmation class. [↩]