Up until now, I wasn’t really a “runner.” I had the idea, I had the shoes, but I hadn’t actually been for a run in about nine years (not since my ill-fated season playing softball my freshman year of high school).
Now I’m officially a runner. It still feels wrong to call myself a runner (runners are tall, remember? And svelte. And probably blonde, let’s be honest). I’m afraid to say “I’m a runner” and watch someone look me up and down, cataloguing my round, non-aerodynamic body and laugh. I’ve decided to phrase it as “I’m training for a half marathon.” It seems to manage everyones expectations nicely.
Elspeth and I are following a Couch to 5k program (with a free app from App Store!), which is designed for people like me, who want to start running but don’t have the endurance to follow a more rigorous training program.
It’s simple, but it’s not quite as easy as I thought. We run three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the ungodly hour of six in the morning), for 30 minutes a day. We alternate walking for 60 seconds and running for 90 seconds, with a warm up and cool down period at the start and finish of the entire workout. Then we stretch in our respective apartments.
Day one was not as bad as I thought it would be. I got a cramp in my lungs, but Elspeth helped me stretch it out and regulate my breathing. We ran down to the lake, which was gorgeous and still and wonderful.
Day two was a little more difficult. I got a lung cramp again (curse you, uneven breathing!) and a blister that was forming on my heel was starting to really bother me. I soldiered through, but I would run for short bursts and then (oh sweet relief!) drop to a leisurely walk when the friendly female voice told me to start walking. Elspeth let that slide, but on day three, she was having none of it.
Day three was, ironically, the worst day this week. Fridays are difficult for me anyway, because by Thursday evening my poor, introverted self is wiped out from 32 hours of activity from work (and maybe 3-5 hours of activity with friends), and I still have to slog through 8 more hours before I’m free for the weekend.
I was sore, I was tired, my feet hurt, it was six am, I didn’t want to go to work, and I had foolishly sliced the pad of my hand open a couple days ago on a nailhead sticking out of my wall. In short, I was ornery, and I didn’t want to push my body any more than I had already been pushing it. Much to my chagrin, Elspeth picked Friday to turn into a boot camp leader worthy of our former roommate (and fitness instructor) Victoria.
Instead of matching my pace when I dropped down to a walk, Elspeth started walking briskly. I lagged behind a bit, until she (gently, because she’s a gentle person) said “you should walk a little faster so your heart rate won’t drop”
She was right. I knew she was right. I didn’t like that she was right.
I tried, I really did, but I was feeling like a grouch, so I started whining. Whining about my heel, about the cut on my hand, about how I hate Fridays and I was tired. Elspeth listened calmly, and told me that when she and her husband Zach took a boot camp class with Victoria (as a wedding present a couple months before they were married), Victoria told Elspeth that she could say anything–anything she wanted–to Victoria, except “I quit.” Elspeth said that she cursed Victoria out (which is something I have a hard time picturing, as I’ve known Elspeth for 14 years and think I’ve heard her say about 10 swear words in that entire time).
I felt horrible, because those two evil little words had been poking into my mind: “I quit.” I may have spent $150 bucks on shoes, I may have told nearly everyone I know that I was training for a half marathon, but that Friday I wanted to quit… until Elspeth told me that she would refuse to accept that.
I knew running would be hard. I knew it would require sacrifices of my time, money, and habits. What I didn’t realize was how many people I have rooting for me–people who are proud that I’m training for a race, people who won’t just quietly accept “I quit.” People who love me.
I think it’s that, more than the cost of my shoes, that will keep me going.