In a moment of what I’m now considering to be temporary insanity in April, I signed myself up for the Birmingham Half Marathon, taking place in October. As a smoker with a penchant for cheese and about 60lbs of excess weight on my ass, the idea seemed utterly ridiculous – at the time I found it difficult to climb a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath. There were a number of people around me who must have been thinking the same thing, responding with ‘really?!’ and wry smiles when I told them what I intended to do.
I must admit, I procrastinated for a while after that, using excuses of a busy workload and being tired to avoid getting into any form of training routine. I did a single run in May (and when I say run, I mean I walked for half of it while I coughed my lungs up), managing 1.36 miles (2.2km), and that was it.
When I finished work in the middle of July, I had used up all of my excuses, and a good friend, N, asked me if I wanted to go out for a run and see what we could manage. She was the perfect person to do this with – while she’s much physically fitter and stronger than I am (being a member of a roller derby team) she’s the most non-judgemental person I know and I felt comfortable enough to go at my own pace without worrying that she’d laugh at my bright red face and the fact that I run like Phoebe from Friends. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – we quickly figured out a route and N was able to do her own workout by running back and forth along certain roads so that she remained near me but could go at a faster pace.
When we got back, I was disappointed at how slow I was and the fact that I had walked for a large percentage of it. N told me about her training sessions with her roller derby team, and the fact that she was one of the slowest, and then she showed me something that her teammate had sent her on Facebook. It was one of the most profound things I had seen in a while:
No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch…
It made so much sense, and my feelings of disappointment instantly evaporated – I might not be running huge distances, or going at a particularly fast rate, but I’m doing something, which is better than anything I have done in the last few years.
Over the last five weeks, N and I have got into a routine, meeting regularly and motivating each other. We make a point of increasing our distance each time, even if it’s just by a little bit, and I use her as a marker to push myself at certain points to catch up to her. I have started to force myself to run more uphill, whereas before I would have walked, and I do short bursts of sprinting in timed intervals. She has also shown me how to stretch properly during the run, which is something I never did before.
As a result, I’ve quadrupled the distance I can run in a single session and I’ve shaved nearly two minutes off the amount of time it takes me to do a mile. I know that it’s about stamina and distance rather than speed, but I’m naturally finding it easier to go at a faster pace. As an added bonus, I’ve lost about 8lbs too!
Today, I did 4.6 miles, which is the farthest I have ever run in a single session. Admittedly, I didn’t run the whole way – I pushed myself a little too much and needed to walk on several occasions to get my breath back…
… but I still lapped everyone on the couch. And I’m even starting to enjoy it!
What about you guys? Have you made improvements on anything recently? Are you working towards a goal?
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