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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I love that saying and use it myself a lot! I’ve just started running again after a long break and am loving it (so far!) Keep going, you’re doing brilliantly and the sense of achievement when you cross the line will be huge 🙂
That’s brilliant – congrats! Keep me updated with how you get on – and thanks so much for the support!
Small goals; that’s the way to do it – well done you 🙂
Absolutely – thanks so much Lucy!
That’s amazing, you are doing fab! I wish I could run but my knee won’t take the pounding. For the last 4 weeks I’ve managed to cycle 6k at the local gym for 5 days a week. Unsure what that is in miles, seems the local leisure centre have gone all continental on us. I did 7k yesterday but that was in error, I got carried away watching something on the tv monitor ..
That’s awesome my lovely – well done! I can’t quite get to grips with bikes – my ass swallows the seat haha! 5 miles is 8k so that’s awesome!
Congrats! Great job! I’ve lost 13 lbs over the last 6 weeks with my new running routine. Keep going!
That’s amazing! Well done my lovely!
I’m so proud of you!! YOU GO GIRL!!!
sooooo while you’re running laps around my lazy ass, I have to know….what’s on your Playlist?
Keep it up girly!!!
Ooh I have all sorts of nonsense on my playlist – I’m currently enjoying the Rocky soundtrack, 80’s metal and RuPaul haha!thanks so much my lovely! How are you?
Your statement is true- you are lapping everyone on the couch! Good for you, training for the marathon. You will be fabulous! I currently have four cheeses in my fridge and the last time I answered my phone while walking up my stairs my friend said, “Are you okay, you sound stressed” hahaha!
Haha! The power of the cheese – it’s a killer isn’t it! Thanks very much for your support!
That’s really fantastic. Having joined a gym for the first time in March, I am only just starting to have my own fitness goals – running a mile without stopping is still on the list. Well done!
Thanks Lauren! Kudos to you too! That first mile is so tough but when you do it it’s a buzz!
I used to coach a long distance running group and the following may assist:
– It does not matter whether you walk 21km (half-marathon) or run 21km, or walk/run 21km. You will have still covered 21km. Speed is not important because the distance remains the same regardless.
– If you are driven by speed: “Put the miles in now, the speed will come later.”
That’s awesome – thank you! I must admit, the speed is something I have started to focus on less – now I try and run without stopping instead
Assuming you have totally quit smoking during this training for the B’ham 1/2M (you are crazy if you haven’t), then remember that every time you work your lungs, you are helping to remove all that smoking junk that currently lines them. If you stop running and start smoking again …….. you just start screwing up your lungs again! I quit smoking and started running because, after so many failed attempts at quitting, I wanted to get into something that would improve my breathing. I kept running because I knew that if I stopped, I would be smoking again! I have since run a number of marathons and still have not smoked since I started. It can be done!
I’m pretty much there, although I slip up occasionally. I can already feel the difference!
Hi Suzie: Try and really focus on, and appreciate, the improved breathing. You will need to recall that feeling when you get the urge for a cigarette, and recognize that each cigarette is “undoing” the good that running is doing. 🙂
I’ve just been and did the longest distance ever. I relaxed, slowed my breathing down and felt soooo much better – I could have probably gone much further!
Well done, but don’t get sucked in by that feeling of being able to run forever (aka “runners’ high”). That is a certain recipe for disaster re strained muscles etc. Increasing slowly is the only safe way to go (10% increase on weekly total mileage is recommended).
I can totally relate to this runners high – I felt invincible the other day! I’m taking it slowly though…
Oh my. Okay. Maybe I’ll start with walking ……..
Go for it my lovely! How’s things?
Great! Doing well, getting back to making art!
Yay! So pleased to hear it!
You can do it, just stick with your plan :).
Thanks very much Gary!
Congrats!!! I know how hard it is to stick to a schedule and convince yourself that no, catching up on a random TV show isn’t better than getting out there for a run!
I’ve been doing exercises regularly or the past couple months and I can both see and FEEL the difference so keep going! 🙂
That’s brilliant – congrats! It’s taking me about an hour, which is an hour less of TV I watch… I’m surprised how much I’m getting into it! What’s your favourite thing to do?
I used to go to the gym but I wasn’t regular enough to justify the monthly payment…
I have since found fantastic videos on YouTube (aerobics, cardio, dance…) that I alternate. They don’t cost me a penny and the results are the same if not better 🙂
That’s such a good idea!
That’s great that you managed 4.6 miles. I am still in the “thinking phase” of making some changes, which is a vast improvement from the “I don’t really care” phase I have been in for about the last 8 years. But at least I am heading in the right direction.
Definitely! What’s your plan after the thinking phase?
That is a really good question. I read a post on edwinasepisodes about how I might start a journal of my release from fatness. And the more I think about that, the more excited I get. That might just be the motivation I need. I have moved about several notches along to the planning phase – even considered if I had appropriate togs for going to a gym. This might actually happen.
That’s so great – I know that it’s quite daunting but it’s so exciting too!
Good on you for signing up for the Birmingham marathon! Not an easy task, I am sure! I stupidly signed up for one, too… After my husband said he was ‘fitter’ than me… I was like “Okay then! Prove it!’ And what better way than to both compete in the Half marathon! Since running I have felt loads better, too. It’s not only good for the body, but it’s great for the soul! 😊 I wish you all best with yours in October! You’ll do great! Keep us updated!
That’s brilliant! Have you got any tips Amanda?
Just take things one step at a time and build yourself up – I went from doing 10 minute runs to 20 minute to 30 mins etc. I’ve also started rowing (which seems to help). To help with boredom (I find running a drag!) I put music on or drag a friend along with me. You’ve still got lots of time, I’m sure you’ll be fine. 🙂
That’s great advice – thanks Amanda!
You’re welcome! The best of luck to you. 🙂
Thanks my lovely – and to you!
Congrats Suzie, just keep going!!!
Thanks so much Kat!
That’s awesome, Suzie. Keep up the great work! You totally rock 😀
Thanks Mel! I’m getting there haha!
Very inspiring story! One of my favourite quotes!! Good luck with the half marathon! Keep doing what you are doing!! 🙂
Thank you! It’s such a great quote isn’t it!
Well done lovely!! Keep up the good work!! I’ll be cheering for you all the way!! 🙂 x
Thanks my lovely!
You’ve inspired me with this post, Suzie. I’ve also gained far too much weight and am now, finally, making very slow progress. I haven’t liked running since I was a kid, but I’m walking more and trying to control my appetite, about what, how much, and how often I eat. You’re right – making any consistent effort is so much better than making none whatsoever. You’ll do well at the marathon in October. Cheering for you.
Thanks so much Sharon, and kudos to you for your efforts too! Keep going – small steps will make a huge difference!
Making it part of your routine is key – keep up the good work Suzie!
Absolutely! Thanks – I’m certainly working on it haha!
That is awesome!! Good for you!!
Well done you! I am not a runner at all, so I’m always very impressed by those who do 🙂
Thanks very much my lovely!
Well done Suze. You have done so well already 😊
Thanks my lovely!
This is fantastic. Good for you and keep up the great work! Any investment in your health is an investment in the quality of your life, from self esteem to just knowing you can do things that once were impossible to you. I look forward to seeing how you fare in the race. Personally, I knew I had to make changes last October I finally swallowed my pride, and set a goal to go to the gym for 60 days in a row. I figured if I could do that a habit would be established. Funny I made it 60 days, then 80 then 100. I then took 1 day off and then did it all again. It has really changed my life. I have a long way to go still but I can see the physical differences and for a 49 year old person it isn’t too bad. 🙂 I didn’t mean to ramble on. Thanks for the inspiration.
I think that’s amazing – kudos to you! Are there any tips you could give me?
Well now you are in dangerous territory, asking for tips from someone who is only too willing to give them. Tip #1 Be brave and encouraging to yourself in your efforts. Change is hard, difficult and when it comes to physical change it takes time. So much of sticking to working out I think involves encouraging ourselves and recognizing the effort. We have the rest of society to tell us we are old, overweight and unable to look like we “should”. If you are reaching your fitness goals, love yourself for it, feel great, know that you can keep going. Tip # 2 – Do exercises that you love. It is easy to do what you love each day. If it is running, run with passion. If it is lifting, yoga, group aerobics, or spinning, do it with passion and love and it will be easier. Tip# 3- Change it up- All routines at some point will get stale and your body and mind will crave differences. Little things like new running routes, different workout times, slight changes in your routine can provide you with a fresh motivation and point of view. #4 Don’t ever compare your progress or ability to someone else. I like the gym, but it can be an intimidating place. I just focus on being my best each day and not worry about what anyone else thinks of me. I am doing the best I can. When I was younger that was more difficult. As you said in your post, No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch… 🙂
That’s all so great Jonathan – every one makes so much sense and is a blog post in itself haha! I don’t do the gym for exactly those reasons – I get competitive and feel intimidated all at the same time! Thanks!
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I’ve seen that quote before and love it, and I loved your post. So glad you made the decision to get moving. I started running again the first part of June after years of not doing much of anything, exercise-wise, so I could totally relate to everything you talked about. Go you! Keep up the good work!!! #MidLifeLuv
Thanks so much Paula! What do you do in your running at the minute? Have you got any tips?
I wish you could hear me applauding you (from the couch) for your hard work and motivation! I need to get my arse motivated as well…and lay off the smokes so I don’t cough up a lung when I do the stairs instead of the elevator! Good job!! 😊
Thanks so much Deb! I must admit, the not smoking (very much) is the only bit I don’t like. I love smoking, despite how bloody stupid it is… Worst decision I ever made haha!
Know what you mean, Suzie. I made the dumb decision twice! Started again after 4 years without!! Doh!! (Hand slap to forehead). There is just something calming to me about it. Probably just the addiction. And it is bloody stupid!
But it’s just soooooo good haha!
I’ll second that!!
Kudos for getting out there.
Last week I dragged a dusty, lonely bicycle out of the basement. Yesterday, I replaced the seat with something that won’t numb my private parts. My plan is to work my way up to an hour long ride. Your post is cheering me on 🙂
That’s great! Keep me posted – would love to hear how you get on!
Fell off the bike today, onto grass so no big deal. Was waiting for it to happen, actually. I have no freaking balance. Still having fun though. 🙂
Oh no! Sorry you fell off, but glad you weren’t hurt! Pleased you’re enjoying it!
How’s your training going?
Not bad – I did my longest ever run the other day and each time I go it gets a little easier… Thanks for asking!
“As a smoker with a penchant for cheese and about 60lbs of excess weight on my ass..”
This. This resonates with me.
Haha! I should have included ‘and cake’ in that too… Anything with carbs and chocolate doesn’t last very long in my house!
Well done! I enjoyed reading your journey – while on my couch! 🙂
I’ll get up now.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks Vincent! What’s your plan?
Good for you! And good luck. This is going to get you in terrific shape. I swim and push the laps because my knees can’t take the pounding.
Thank you! I’m hoping so – Ive started to get wobbly in places that shouldn’t be haha! I love swimming – it’s such a brilliant way to relax and exercise at the same time! How many laps do you do?
Good on you. I need to get off that couch and join in.
Thanks Geoffle! Feel free!
A great saying! Whenever I go to boot camp with my toddler and end up chasing after him, calming tears or having to pick him up, I remind myself that even half a work out session is better than none! Do what you can and be proud of your effort.
Absolutely! I can imagine that chasing after a toddler is far more of a work out than running haha!
I too am trying to get back into running after about a seven month hiatus. I find the key is small challenges to build up my endurance without overdoing it on any given session. Ie: lots of “Run 10 minutes/Walk 1 minute” or “Today I will run faster, but for a shorter distance” followed by “Really slow but longer run” another day. I also like playing with hills once in a while.
Good luck as you work to improve your running!
Thanks Louise! So great that you’re getting back into it too – I have been following the same sort of routine and it seems to be working! Our route includes hills too, but I haven’t managed to totally run up them yet! Good luck in your training too – keep me posted!
Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
A fine philosophy explained here by Suzie. I’ll follow it up tomorrow with a re-run (if you’ll pardon the pun) of my own experiences…
Thanks so much for the reblog Graeme!
Remarkably similar observations to my own – though I do put it differently. You’ll see for yourself tomorrow.
Thanks very much! I’ll check it out!
As tomorrow has passed, I should say it’s the post titled “Being Perfect”
Well done! I suck at running but would love to get better as I know it’s one of the easiest ways to improve cardio and lose weight. Can’t wait to hear how you get on in October!
Thanks very much Stacey! I suck at it too and I hate it most of the time, but it’s totally worth it when I’m out there!
Great job and I admire your stamina.. as an ex-smoker I can empathise or is that wheeze with you.. I have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award.. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/the-blogger-recognition-award-thanks-hector-sampson-sue-vincent-and-viv-drewa/ no pressure to accept just if you have enough breath left! best wishes Sally
Thanks so much Sally, I’m honoured!
You go Suzie. Best of luck with the marathon!
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