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I am
a series of
small victories
and large defeats
and I am as
as any other
I have gotten
from there to

—Charles Bukowski, “The People Look Like Flowers At Last

When you’re depressed, sometimes small victories matter as much as the big ones, because they take so much effort to achieve. To a (quote-unquote) normal adult, something like doing all your dishes or throwing out that carton of milk in your fridge that has been slowly curdling for two weeks is easy, but for me, depending on how my week has gone and how much serotonin my brain has produced, it can be incredibly difficult.

So I’ve started to measure my running accomplishments in small victories, like how I’ve gone running two or three days a week for the past two months. Or how I went from running for 1 1/2 minute stretches to 6 to 10 minute stretches, or how I’ve gone at least five runs without getting a lung cramp, which means I’ve been regulating my breathing more consistently.

Elspeth and I started running with an app called C25K, which is… a good app, really it is. It ramps up its expectations each day, which is good because it presents a challenge and doesn’t allow you to plateau. However, it also kind of sucks because this means it’s anti-small victory. The app works by ramping up and up and up until SURPRISE! You can run a 5 k! Big victory!

I hated it. I hated running. It was hard and it kept getting harder. Every day it wanted me to run further for longer and longer. All I could think is “I ran for five minutes without stopping yesterday and now you want me to run for 12? I’m not Wonder Woman, you demon.”

So Elspeth (wise trainer that she is), altered our training schedule. Instead of ramping up and suddenly running 20 minutes at once, we’re running 3 six minute stretches with 1 minute walking intervals.

And yesterday something amazing happened. I enjoyed my entire run. Not just the first half, while my legs were fresh and my lungs were full. The entire run.

Tomorrow I’m going on my first run alone. And (don’t tell Elspeth) I’m considering trying to lengthen a couple running intervals.

Maybe 8-6-8.

Or 6-8-6.

I don’t want to get too crazy.