Friday, June 08, 2012

Couch to 5k, Beginning to Run

Move forward.

(Because I don't have any photos of me actually running, nor would you really want to see them, I've included photos of places I see on my runs.)

I've been running lately.  Well, that might be an overstatement, to which you might respond, "Who cares?"  I have a friendly acquaintance from my homeschool co-op whom I haven't seen for about a year.  She was overweight, like me.  But maybe not like me, because we all took different paths to gain our weight, and then to release it.  I put my kids in school and I would have lost touch with her, except with the advent of Facebook, I see her periodic updates and we comment on each others' page.  Then I saw updates referring to the Couch to 5K program.

What pushes your butt to get going?

I was really jealous.  I used to run a lot before I had kids.  Never a marathon, but it wasn't unheard of for me to run 5 miles a day, 5 days a week.  When running like that, I could drink all I wanted because I would get up early before work and run off a hangover.  It worked, but it felt like crap.  I could eat like a pig because I could increase my miles to undo the damage.  I never got super skinny like many lithe runners, but I was strong and had great endurance.

Gorgeous harbor.  How I'd love to have a boat - or better, a friend with a boat.

Then I got pregnant and gained a ridiculous amount of weight (65 lbs!).  I got plantar fasciitis that never seemed to go away in spite of my best efforts.  My knees got bad, like all of a sudden.  My doctor said it was arthritis, which never sat well with me.  Really?  Like you can get a sudden attack, like out of nowhere?  Then my hips.  Broken ankle.  Then my back.  Then my head.

Ah, more boats.  Blue sky.  Bright sun.

A few physical therapists asked me to stop running.  I was depressed, so instead of working hard to overcome my aches and pains, I stopped.  I had switched to cycling, the elliptical machine, pilates, swimming, personal training and walking.  Nothing I've done since has gotten me back to that beautiful moment when you've completed the first few miles and your body is weightless and everything feels like bliss.  On even the coldest or wettest days, knowing that I could get to that state of mind would hurry me out the door.

If I make it to museum campus, I'm doing really good.

Fast forward a few years.  Last summer around this time my feet hurt so desperately, I was seeing my podiatrist twice a week for treatment.  He'd freeze them, inject them, stretch them, wrap them, cast them.  Finally we talked about scheduling surgery for each foot.  I thought I had done everything I could and this was the only option.  Only I chickened out.  A year prior to that I had dislocated an ankle which broke all the surrounding bones.  I had surgery then and had to stay off my foot completely for at least a month and then with a camwalker for an additional month or so.  There was nothing to schedule then as I had no choice.  I couldn't think about who is going to carry my baby.  How will I get my daughter to school.  How could I possibly get a wheelchair in and out of my ancient loft that was not accessible?  But to plan surgery?  I just couldn't get there.  I stopped seeing him.  I retreated into my world of pain to just deal with it.

Ewe!  That's not from my run.  My dislocated foot, dangling off the end of my leg.  Just keeping it real.

Then something remarkable happened.  The pain went away.  Part of that is the result of fall and winter coming on.  I wear better shoes and kept my insoles in them regularly.  I then started to lose weight.  Just a tiny bit.  And just a tiny bit of weight loss removes an exponentially greater force from every step I take.  I feel the difference.  My clothes don't know I've lost weight, yet (that stubborn jelly-belly), but my knees and feet know every ounce that is missing.

Whew!  Back to the pretty harbor.

Months after Anna, my friend, posted about working the C25K program, I had decided to give it a try (oh, and Anna?  She lost a TON of weight.  I've got to ask her if I can share her before and after pictures because she's amazing - a total inspiration to us all!).  I stopped telling myself that I can't run.  I just decided to try to run.  The program is simple, especially if you have an iPhone app, but that isn't even necessary.  The first week, you start with a 5 minute walk to warm up.  Then alternate walking for 90 seconds with running for 60 seconds.  My running began more like shuffling because I was so afraid to hurt something.  Then I tried to really get off the ground and I found that it hurt LESS to run when I wasn't trying to AVOID getting hurt.  Amazingly simple.  Do you know what else?  It didn't kill me.  I haven't landed at the orthopedists office and my plantar fasciitis hasn't gotten all wacked out.

Buckingham Fountain.

I'm only on my second week, so I can't really announce this as the great success, yet.  I can tell you, the greatest injury is what we tell ourselves we CAN'T do.  It's not all those little aches and pains.  It's the big mental block in our head.  The reasons to not try something can overwhelm the courage to just get out there and give it a shot.

Lovely, little boat with Jasper's favorite "Rocketship Museum" in the background.

Do you ever feel like that?

Here's to overcoming our negative thoughts and trying something new.  Big hugs to everyone today.


  1. I came over from A Blog About Love and decided to read for awhile. :) Good luck with the C25K!! I'm on week 5 and chugging along. I'm not yet to the point where I love the actual running, but I love the way I feel afterward. Keep it up! :)

    1. Week 5 - fantastic. I slipped out of practice, but I return home from vacation in two days and have BIG plans to get back into the swing of things.

  2. you are my hero, I am so looking forward to reading your journey. I am a swimmer (fitness not competitive). Diagnosed with torn rotator cuff over a year ago everything stopped completely and the upper body is still in bad shape. I started running today .... huff puff.... never done it before...and it is nice to meet someone in the same shoes :-)

    1. Great to hear from you. I've had two good runs this week, but not enough. 3 is ideal for a beginner. Anymore, I risk frustrating the journey with overdoing it. Next week I'm out of town, so it will be tricky to fit it in. I checked ahead of time to ensure my hotel will have a good fitness room. Now to figure out babysitting.

      Listen to your body. A torn rotator cuff is no joke. Be good to yourself. And enjoy the journey.