Last New Years Eve, I got a real eye opener about the state of my health. I was partying with my wonderful LNO friends, a song came on that was line-dance worthy, and we were all just lubricated enough with drink that we started doing the Electric Slide. By the middle of the song I had sweat dripping down my face, my muscles were starting to ache, and I was breathing as if I had been running! Dancing had always been my thing! When the hell did I get so out of shape that I couldn’t dance my way through a song?
My wake up call could have been much worse. Thankfully, it didn’t land me in the hospital but it did seem to flip a switch in my brain about seriously needing to get back into shape. I decided I was fed up with this middle-age weight gain that had plagued me for the past five years. The excess poundage had made me feel sluggish and tired, and it was beginning to affect my joints.
I have tried exercise in the past, walking, yoga, zumba; but frankly I’m not an exercise kind of person, so as soon as those routines got interrupted by weather, schedule changes, or life in general, I quit. I may have benefitted from the services of a personal trainer, but yea, I can afford that all right (not)!
My dedication to my health came in fits and starts the first part of 2013, but I began to notice that I felt better, not only physically but mentally as well, when I at least made the attempt to exercise.
In May, the Midwest thaw was well underway and as I have also become acutely aware of my advancing age (I could technically refer to myself as 60- rather than 50+ these days but I refuse to), I decided I wanted to spend as much time outside this spring and summer as possible. So I made a commitment to start running. I found an app on my phone called Couch-to-5K that seemed perfectly suited to my completely out-of-shape body.
I chose a three day a week timed plan which supposedly was going to gradually whip my oversized butt into 5K material in nine weeks. Week one went well, however I didn’t feel confident that I could increase my running intervals to the levels in Week two just yet so I repeated week one. Not a problem, it’s just going to take me a little longer.
Six weeks into my running commitment and I’m trying to move into Week three of the program which requires that I run intervals of three minutes straight. I can’t do it. Although I can certainly feel some improvement in my health, I don’t feel that I’m getting any stronger.
My seventh week of running and I decide to repeat the C25K Week two intervals……again. However, this time I can’t even get through those intervals. Before my 90 seconds are over I can’t seem to get enough air into my lungs or my legs are screaming “I’m done! Stop!”. Needless to say, I became discouraged. So much so that I started making excuses for not getting up to run in the morning; it’s raining or it’s too humid.
Almost a week passes that I don’t run and I already start to feel physically and psychologically sluggish again. I think, I cannot be alone. There have to be other people who have experienced this wall, because that is what it feels like, a wall. So, I did some googling and found that, indeed, I was not alone. Many people have had the same experience.
Several experienced runners offered advise to the query of ‘Why is my running not improving?’. The most prevalent piece of advise was that they might be running too fast; overtaxing their muscles, heart, and lungs instead of gradually strengthening them. Hmmmmm, I thought. Since both my sons had been track and cross country runners in high school, I knew something about pacing. I thought I had been moving at an appropriate pace, but maybe I was wrong. It was worth a try.
This morning was my first run with my new found knowledge about running slower, and I am please to say that I made it through every single interval without having to stop. I am still only at 90 second intervals but that’s okay. It may not seem like much, but it’s progress for me.