Couch to 5K: Weeks 2 – 7

I haven’t given you the weekly play by play of my Couch to 5K training (you’re welcome) for two reasons. One, I’ve been very busy and tired. And two, I have been keeping a running diary that our coach gave us. But so many emotions are going on right now, its time for me to put it down and think through it.

I was very pleasantly surprised the first couple weeks of “running” in the Couch to 5K group class. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t keel over. I didn’t love the actual running part, but I loved the warm up, the group, the cool down, and I loved the feeling of accomplishment after it was over. Those first 2-3 weeks I was just so amazed that I was able to do the 60 seconds, then 90 seconds, then 3 minute intervals. I felt very proud of myself and thought, “hey, I might be able to do this after all”.

I have had some struggles and lessons along the way. I suffered with shin splints weeks two and three so I bought compression sleeves for my shins and they eventually went away. I learned the hard way, you do not go on a morning run without some breakfast and hydration; get up earlier. I learned that shady paths are the best, sun on a run is my enemy. Hills are my undoing, and the sad thing is they aren’t even really hills, just bridges or upward slopes on the greenbelt. And I learned that for the most part, each week is the same amount of difficulty. When we were doing a minute and a half, 3 minutes seemed impossible, but then we did it, and then 5 minutes seemed impossible, then we did it, then 8 minutes. But if I had to pick, I did struggle with week 4 the most – this was the introduction of 5 minute intervals. This was the first week I didn’t feel proud of myself after the runs, at least not until I finally nailed that 5 minute streak.

We are now on week 7 – no more intervals! The runs are now twenty-five minutes at a time. And I am noticing a huge change in my attitude the last two weeks. Those first few weeks I felt accomplished, proud and excited I was making progress. My goals going into this were pretty laid back, I set my bar low – just cross the finish line, hopefully run at least half of it. But somewhere along the line I got caught up in…something… the competitiveness with myself or the others…or started feeling cocky, expecting myself to be able to do it. So now I feel disappointed in myself when I cannot run the full time without stopping. I feel grumpy about not making it all the way. I know I shouldn’t feel that way. Before this started I didn’t even know if I could run one minute, and was happy with myself just taking the dog for a walk. I never imagined myself actually running. Now I am up to twenty-minutes on my best day, or more typically ten minutes at a time. So I know I should just be happy I’m moving and being active. It is still great progress for an asthmatic couch potato. Dang you Aries traits that want to be good at it or don’t do it at all. This is why I never did sports as a kid – well besides the constant asthma attacks – I’d try something and if I wasn’t good at it right away, I didn’t like it and didn’t do it again. I don’t want to be that way anymore. I want to push myself. It is all mental. I just need to change my attitude and perspective and be happy for any run time I accomplish.

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Thirty-Seven

I am thirty-seven years old. I think I am at that age where you decide to take good care of yourself to stay healthy , young and active, or to let yourself get older. It is definitely a conscious choice that needs to be made. My husband already decided to let himself go years ago to be old and seems to have no desire to change his mind. Not me, I want to take the you healthier, more active route, but it is not easy. It is a constant life change that I need to practice.

I have weeks where thirty-seven doesn’t phase me. These weeks I do 3-5 workouts of 30-60 minutes each, and I feel great. I feel stronger and more athletic than I was in my twenties (although I am still not athletic). Some weeks I remember to take my vitamins and try to make healthy food choices. Although I am never perfect I certainly feel wiser than in my younger days. These are the weeks I feel like I am taking better care of myself than ever before. Even when I can’t see results on the scale, I feel better and younger inside. I forget my age. I swim or wrestle with my kids. I bounce on the trampoline. I dive off boats. Life is great.

Then there are the other weeks. Weeks where I drag and drag and drag. Getting to bed too late and ditching my early morning workouts for thirty more minutes of sleep or a drowsy bath instead. I forget to take my vitamins. I eat pizza, chocolate and Doritos to settle my cravings. My eyes grow heavy at my desk each afternoon from three to four; until I do the head bob and have to get up to walk around. I am desperate for a nap I never get when I get home at night. These are the weeks I feel my age. I am sleepy, my mind is not fresh or alert, I am sluggish, my eyes are droopy. I don’t have the energy to keep the housework or take the kids to the park. I only want to lounge around. I don’t like those weeks but am having one right now – coming off a vacation and my period, I haven’t exercised in 4 days – and today I am certainly feeling my age.

It just reminds me that I can never stop. Going forward I will always have to exercise and eat right to keep feeling good. Any breaks I take, just take me backward into sleepy despair. That is an exhausting thought.

Well, maybe next week…

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