Run Your Own Race

Three-ish or so month ago, I decided to start running. Before you roll your eyes and prepare yourself for a screed from the newly converted, let me assure you: I’m not a runner. But I’m also not getting younger, and though I’ve practiced Pilates regularly (3-4 classes/week) for the last two and a half years, I needed to get in the habit of doing more regular cardio. In the past, I’ve been a more or less regular cyclist and even farther back I was sporadically a swimmer, so why I decided it was time to start running is as much anyone’s guess as mine. (I tell myself, though, it’s because it’s something I know I’ll always be able to do even when I’m traveling, so I won’t be able to use lack of equipment/facilities as an excuse to skip workouts.)

So.. 21 days make a habit, or so they say. I’ve run more days than that, but I still don’t think it’s a habit and there are still days when I have to guilt-trip myself into doing it. It helps that a friend has an awesomely supportive, no-pressure, non-competitive Facebook group where people set their own monthly goals and then report out weekly (if not more often – I track in a single thread daily so I don’t forget). Even that little bit of accountability helps keep me on track and the genuine support and non-competitiveness of the group keeps me engaged even when I miss goals.

I started with the Couch-to-5k running plan app* – which I highly recommend until about week 5 or 6, but by the time it’s just “run 20-25-30” minutes, I found it a lot less useful. For me, for now, I’m still building endurance and while the difference between two 10-minute runs with a 1 or 2 minute walk in between and one 20 minute run doesn’t seem like that much, it is for me. And for awhile, I let that bug me – I felt like I wasn’t doing it right if I wasn’t running longer intervals every time.

And then, recently, I realized that was silly.** I’m running to improve my cardiovascular health so really, as long as I continue to do it – at whatever speed and for however long – I’m meeting that need. The important thing is that I’m doing it. So, days like today, when I wasn’t feeling up for longer intervals, I still clocked nearly 2.5 miles doing 3 minute run intervals at a comfortable pace. At some point, likely fairly soon, I run (well, run some and walk some) my first 5k (in a workout, not as a race), and I’m sure that will feel like a big accomplishment. But for now, days like today, it’s okay just to have done it.

* I’m now using Zombies, Run! with my own music, which is working better for me. The random story interjections and stuff you pick up is enough to keep my mind from dwelling on the time still to go. If you’re a walker and looking for something similar, the same company has an app called The Walk that I’ve also really enjoyed.

** The context in which I realized this had almost nothing to do with health and certainly wasn’t related to running, however. It was a more general conversation with a friend in which they pointed out (as they have in the past) that I’m *very* tough on myself. I am the poster child for high standards and the person I’m hardest on when they aren’t met is myself.

Now playing: Ani DiFranco – Amazing Grace

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