I’m a runner.
That is to say, I recently began the process of becoming a runner. By the strictest application of the word, I can comfortably use it to describe myself. I run. I do so with regularity.
I just don’t do it very well.
I’ve not been able to lift weights or do any upper-body calisthenics for the past four months thanks to an elbow injury. While I’ve never been a buffed up dude, I like to stay in shape. I lost 50 pounds over two years and pledged to myself that I’d keep the wait off for good. While I’ve gained some back – thanks in large part to this injury – I’m still in far better shape than I was three years ago. All these factors led to the decision that I needed to start running.
Apparently drinking and eating anything I see does not make for a good diet plan.
Even when I exercised regularly, I rarely ran. I loved cross training, lifting weights, pushups, etc. I’d even spend time on the elliptical machine each week to make sure I was getting a little cardio. But running never struck me as an enjoyable weigh to exercise. After a pair of ACL surgeries, I decided I could find better ways to stay fit without further torturing my knees. Thanks to this lingering elbow injury I found few options for exercise other than walking – which led to running.
The Internet provides the perfect venue for would-be runners. No, one cannot run on the Internet – although I double- and triple-checked to be sure. But the Internet does allow one to search for running programs that fit each individual need.
After Google searching “fat lazy runner” I landed on a Couch-to-5K program. Perfect! I love my couch and have spent a lot of time there recently. This program spoke to me. Literally! A breathy British chick guides you through each run. I specifically liked the fact that my hot new British trainer only asked me to run for one minute at a time during the first week. I nailed those! As the weeks progress she asked me to run for longer periods of time.
Today, the start of my fourth week, that snarky, mocking Limey hooligan demanded that I run for three minutes and five minutes at a time – twice each. The nerve!
I attacked that first pair of runs with vigor, easily making it through both runs at a good pace. Take that, England! After a minute-and-a-half walking rest, I started the next three-minute run. I managed to make it all the way to the end of the run, but I’m pretty sure I was hallucinating by the end of it. That or I actually saw a beer-bellied ogre wearing a Union Jack t-shirt, pointing and laughing at me.
I was instructed by Margaret Thatcher’s ghost to “rest” again for 90 seconds before starting my final run. I chose a path today that included a slow, steady incline as I headed back home, completely unaware of how brutal my English task master would be this morning. After about two minutes of my final five minute run, I was out of gas. My shrill, taunting Cockney trainer “encouraged” me to keep it up – just three minutes left! – advising me to slow my pace if I struggled with the run. Slow my pace? How cute. Early morning commuters craned their necks to make sure I was not, in fact, dead. A few may very well have feared that the zombie apocalypse had begun.
As I gasped and wheezed toward the end, a fellow runner – neigh, a real runner – zoomed by me at what must have been an Olympic pace. Filled with inspiration, I managed to squeeze out one more minute of running from my rubbery, weary legs before finally admitting to myself that I had nothing left in the tank. I began my “cool down” walk back home, wondering if my injured elbow could possibly hurt any more than my beleaguered knees and feet did at that moment.
Then it started to rain.
So I slinked back home, now drenched in a combo of record-breaking sweat and rain, questioning virtually every decision I had ever made in my life. I peeled off my soaked gear, dried off, and treated my knees to 30 glorious minutes of ice and rest.
That’s when it happened.
I started thinking about my next run. I imagined how I could perform much better next time, completing all my runs thanks to my lovely, encouraging British trainer. Then and there I committed to crushing my next challenge.
Because I am a runner.