Running

I am not built to be a runner.

But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to do it. Or perhaps I should say fighting.

The fight is what I like I about running. No matter how much I might not want to do it, or how hard it is to get it done, the ‘runner’s high’ I get and the sense of accomplishment I feel after every running session reminds me that I am strong and can get stronger.

I call it a running session because I can’t run continuously. I do intervals. Right now I run for 1:30 and walk for 1 min for 14 intervals, 35 mins total. If I ran longer or did more, my body would fall apart. Already my knees are starting to protest, but as long as the protest stays consistent I should be able to keep going at this level.

I need to keep going at this level. I need to keep working on running for me. Even if I never get any better and my body never adjusts to the level I am running at right now, three times a week I am reaching a goal. I am getting out and going for run.

Today was a struggle for a run. It is raining steadily and only 6 degrees. Basically, it sucks outside. But I bundled up and headed down to the local high school track and got it done.

There are a lot of things that run through my head when I run, but when it comes down to it, every interval is a little victory.

The first two hurt the most. My body is still warming up and my knees are protesting the pounding. My lungs are also warming up and my mind is trying to settle in for the long haul. I always wonder if I will make it through the second interval.

Then the first 5 minutes are done. A goal is achieved and I get my ‘second wind’. My pulse still stays moderate during the runs, usually just high 150s and goes below 140 as I walk.

The next 2 intervals just happen. My watch buzzes when I need to start and I put one foot in front of the other until it buzzes for me to start walking again. I feel better and I feel stronger. It occurs to me that I have done 10 minutes. After 2 more intervals, it is 15 minutes done.

It is similar for the next two intervals. I focus on making that 15 minute mark and knowing that after 1 more interval means I am halfway done. I am halfway to my goal for the day.

I run through the halfway mark and remind myself that after every interval I have more runs behind me than in front of me. The number I have run is bigger than what I have left. If I can run that many to start, I can do less than that to end. Suddenly 20 minutes is done.

Around this mark, I start to feel meditative. The regular rhythm clears my head and allows me to think. I process things, sometimes I write in my head. Its great when I have work to do or am struggling with something. Today I wrote most of this post in my head.

As I round to 25 minutes it occurs to me that there are only 4 intervals left – only 4! But truthfully this is where the struggle really begins. I start to feel slower (although I may not slow down at all – it is mostly a perception). I wonder if I am walking further in a minute than I am running in a 1:30. I take a moment to pull my mind back, look at what I am doing, where I am ending, where I am starting and remind myself that in the end it doesn’t matter how far or fast I am going, it only matters that I am doing it.

Then I get to the penultimate interval, and it is absolutely the hardest. So close but yet so far from finishing. I am fighting with myself, usually bargaining and questioning if 14 intervals are really necessary (and I will admit it may not be – its just an arbitrary number). My pulse is hovering around 170 during the run and only slowing to about 155 during the walks. I feel drained.

But then I have it done and there is only one more left. 1:30 of running. That is it. I remind myself I can do anything for 1:30. I know that when I finish, the last minute of walking is to cool down and I will feel satisfied knowing I set a goal and achieved it. In some ways it is the easiest interval because it is the end.

Every time my watch buzzes it takes an effort to change my pace back to running. To keep it balanced I change direction every 5 minutes (also changes up the view). I push myself through every run and remind myself that I am a fighter and I am strong. Its what I need to do for myself. When its a running day I actually feel anxious until it is done wondering if I will find the time to fit it in and how it will feel. After I feel accomplished. I can do nothing for the rest of the day, but know I did something.

My body hurts and protests. The transition from the treadmill on the ship to tracks outside has shocked it some, not to mention the colder weather.

But Monday’s run left me tasting lactic acid in my mouth and coughing off an on the rest of the day – a sign I worked my cardio system really hard. The distance recorded on my fitbit was just over 3 km. Wednesday my lungs felt much better and there was almost no coughing after. My distance was much higher than I expected – 3.6 km. Today I felt like I was dragging myself from the beginning and s.l.o.w. But I recorded 3.7 km (no idea how accurate those things are), and got it done – no coughing, no taste of lactic acid. I actually burned less calories during the workout today (again, how accurate is that?) but it could be the different track. Regardless, I am adapting.

One foot in front of the other.

I might need to scale back to twice a week to keep my body from getting injured, especially once I pick up weight training and dance again, but I intend to keep running as part of my routine. Its a different challenge from dance, but one that seems to compliment it.

I will never be a runner. I will always admire those who can just run out and do 5 km without even thinking or trying. But I have my own way of doing it that makes sense for me and my body and it works. It leaves me feeling satisfied because I know I am doing something I want to do how I want to do it. I also know every run makes me stronger – a stronger person and a stronger dancer.

As I took my walks today, I could feel the rain hitting my face. I think I cursed every run I did. I even started out thinking I would only do 20 minutes because of the weather, but once I got that far there just didn’t seem to be a reason not to finish the entire 35.

Time for an Epsom bath and a couple days of active recovery (not to mention some dancing tomorrow).

Then on Monday I will be out running again.