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The Reluctant Runner (part 1)

I’ve always been more of a thinker than a doer. Not a complete couch potato, but more of an “I’d rather stroll these museum halls than hit the trails” kind of person. Needless to say, exercise is not something that is part of my daily routine. I have never belonged to a gym. I walk the dogs, swim when I can, and call it a day. So when my husband suggested I join him on a round of Couch to 5k training, I scoffed. Despite seeing the many benefits marathon training had on him, I couldn’t imagine myself in his shoes. I doubted that I was capable of running to the mailbox, let alone 3 miles. In fact, the last time I ran any distance whatsoever was probably eighth grade. How could I start now, at this age, after two kids?  

After a lot of convincing and pep-talks, I decided to give it a go. In the interest of health and togetherness I thought it would be a great idea to make it a family affair, kids and dogs in tow. (Mistake #1…more on that later.)

First Steps

Starting the program was actually pretty painless. All I needed was the C25K® app, which tells you when to walk, when to run, when to walk again, etc. for the entire 30 minute duration. It keeps track of what week you are on (out of 8. Long. Weeks.) and even offers up nice little motivational sayings when you log in.

Attire was a little trickier. I had to dig out a pair of random sneakers and a sports bra that was likely from my college years. (Mistake #2). I obviously did not own running shorts, so I went with some comfy sweats and a t-shirt. I can laugh about all this now….

Luckily there are many hike and bike trails near my house, so on a Monday evening we leashed up the dogs, set the youngest in a jogging stroller (which had heretofore never been used for actual jogging) dragged the oldest child along with us on foot, and began our journey of a million steps.

That first run consisted mainly of getting used to the app, looking at the phone, switching off dogs and stroller between my husband and I, and general mayhem navigating our group among other people on the trail. The only real surprises were how hot I was (even in the spring weather) and how thirsty I was, wanting to stop for water every time we shifted from a run to walk, which was about every 90 seconds. (To his credit, my husband warned me against this, I didn’t listen.) As for running complaints, I actually had none. Those mostly came from the kid who needed a lot of cajoling to keep going toward the end (she had PE that day in school and was really dragging. Ha, likely excuse.) There wasn’t a lot of time to think about the run itself, which may or may not have been a positive. I truly felt like I could do this!  

I think I can, I think I can

On the second day, we decided to leave our oldest kid and dogs at home. It was obvious after our trial run that it was poor judgement on my part to think that having the whole crew with us would be fun exercise for all – misery loves company, right? I’m sure there are dogs that make great running partners, but ours do not. The leashes kept getting tangled in the stroller and they had to stop for bathroom breaks and to say hello to strangers (squirrel!) every few minutes. The freedom of not having to wrangle animals combined with the peace and quiet of not having a grumpy pre-teen along made the task at hand much easier both physically and mentally. I could finally focus on running, even though my attention still drifted to the app. It began to feel like a ticking time bomb about to go off.

For day three, the last in Week 1, I ignored the app completely and just followed my husband’s lead for when it was time to run and time to walk. This allowed me to “get into the zone,” and “find my stride,” all those things I felt I was supposed to be doing, but instead I had all these questions running through my head: What mile is this? What minute is this? Should I get a hydration backpack? Is that pain normal? Do people really enjoy this?

By week two and into week three I felt my confidence grow. Not only COULD I do this, I was doing it. I had some new lightweight clothes, and hydrated before we set out. The amount of time spent running increases with each week of the program, and I found that I wasn’t dreading the next prompt to run, in fact I was (gasp!) looking forward to it. I was finding my groove, literally and figuratively–I started listening to music which made a world of difference, both in mood and how fast the time passed.

Now that I’ve reached the halfway mark of the program, I still think a lot (perhaps overthink), but I’m asking fewer questions in general. Although, I do find myself wondering: Where is this runner’s high I keep hearing so much about? What week does THAT happen?

Next up, thoughts on the Zen Labs Fitness C25k app and more questions answered, such as, “Are these even running shoes?”

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