So, based on the things I’ve read about other people who’ve done the Couch-to-5K program, it seems a little cliche to sing their praises.
But I’m going to anyway.
Running Is The Devil. That’s the philosophy I’ve had for the last 21 years. Anyone who’s known me for a long time can attest to my abhorrence of running. So I’ve not done it. I’ve never been in good enough shape to run successfully, so I’ve hated it when I have been forcibly made to run. You can’t breathe. Your stomach is about to spew its contents. You feel like you’re going to die. This is why I’ve never run.
But I’m also a big proponent of health and living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve managed to stay relatively thin despite never being particularly active, but in the back of my mind I knew that I needed to start some sort of exercise program. (Lest I hit my 30s and their foretold metabolism slow down, and turn into a pear. Agh.) Our kitchen window overlooks a busy Kingston intersection, and you can literally count scores of people who run past our house every day. Like I’ve said before, Kingston is a running town. Despite being located in Canada and experiencing occasional brutal winters, the runners are always here – rain or shine, freezing rain or snow. Running groups are prominent; I see them run past our house fairly regularly as well.
I’ve never been particularly fond of the idea of going to a gym, so what does that leave me? Well, running is the most obvious idea. The only equipment running requires is a pair of shoes, and you can do it whenever you want. That’s good for me because my days are always unpredictable. The runners I saw everyday while preparing my meals (mmm, cheese…) inspired me. There was this one particular old guy whom I’d see running around the park every day at lunchtime. It didn’t matter how cold it was; there he’d be, bundled up in his winter coat, tuque and other paraphernalia, and generally looking like an Eskimo, but there he was. Running. Not fast, but running. (Maybe “trotting” would be a better word?) And he was OLD, at least he looked old from my third-story perch. I thought, man, surely if this old guy can be out there doing a couple laps around the park every day, I can, too. I’m young and…well, not fit, but I at least don’t have arthritis or Alzheimer’s yet. Certainly I can run if he can.
So during December Break I started thinking about running. Maybe this is something I can get into. The thought scared me a bit, as the horrific memory of having to run the mile in PE and the words “Running is the Devil” came flashing back to me. I looked into this strange “Couch-to-5K” nonsense that Ben was getting into, and surprisingly, it looked like it made sense. It was a very gradual program, and didn’t try to start you out running for 15 minutes, which I knew at this point would not an achievable goal. The first workout has you run for only a minute at a time. Surely I can run for a minute? That seems pretty do-able. At the end, though, I should be running for a solid 30 minutes. 30 minutes? Straight? Are they kidding? Well, it was worth a shot.
And so it started, on a frigid -25C day (-13F) in Kingston. I ran along Lake Ontario, bundled in layer upon layer, and you know, the running didn’t make me feel like I was going to die. I liked this program already. It continued for the next nine weeks, some days being better than others, some goals not achieved and some goals overachieved. It continued until today, the conclusion of my Couch-to-5K.
I did it. I’m running for 30 minutes. Straight. What an unbelievable thought for “Running is the Devil” girl. And I’m running a 5K *race* in two days. Now, I’m not running in the race to compete, really. I’m doing it because it’s the perfect conclusion to my goal. I’m not running for speed; I’m running to run the race and not die. Still, I sincerely hope I don’t come in last 🙂 But speed hasn’t been my focus, so I probably won’t cry if I do come in last. Probably.
I’ve been running the race course for the past couple of weeks, and in the last three runs have picked up my speed quite a bit. I’ve shaved off two minutes since Wednesday, and I guess that’s not huge for a relatively long course, but I’m happy with it. Hopefully I’ll pick up some more speed on race day. Right now it’s looking like it’ll take me around 27 minutes. We’ll see. Brian is running with me, which should be fun. I’ve never run with him before, and have always admired him for being able to run long distances as well as compete in running races and triathlons. A little 5K race ain’t nothin’ for him 🙂
So today I ran for the last time under the watchful eye of the Couch-to-5K. I began with a quick walk around the park to warm up, like I always do. Partway around the park I passed the old man whom I’ve watched run for the last several months and who has been part of my inspiration to take up running. He waved. I smiled.
Thank you, Couch-to-5K.