Last week I finished Couch to 5K. If you’re unfamiliar with C25K, it’s a training program that takes you from the couch (as in, not able to run because you’re so out of shape) to running a 5K (or, more correctly, running for 30 minutes without having to walk). The full program takes only 9 weeks, although it ended up taking me closer to 12 weeks due to a couple of setbacks in the beginning.
Honestly? I never thought I would finish it. Although I did complete it once pre-kids, I’ve not had much luck finishing it again since the whole getting-pregnant-and-giving-birth thing (if you want to read about the pre-kids 5K running, you can do so here…it was intense!). I’ve started it, and quit, and started it again, and quit again, more times than I can count over the last several years.
Somehow…I managed to finish it this time.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I drop the kids off in the play room at the gym and head upstairs to the track. I stretch a bit and start my five minute warm-up. I skip through the songs on my phone until I find something I like (Britney, bitch!) and give the old lady with the hot pink fanny pack in her hand plenty of room as I power walk past her.
I turn on the C25K app and the nice English lady tells me what we’ll be doing that day, and then directs me to start running. And off I go.
Slowly. So, so, so slowly.
I know I’m not fast. I know this because I can barely pass the jogging pregnant girl (and yesterday, I couldn’t even catch her). I know this because when I speed up to pass a cluster of old people who can’t hear me coming and are clogging the track, I want to project an evil patronus upon them because OMG PEOPLE DON’T YOU KNOW I DON’T HAVE THE SPEED TO RUN AROUND YOU?!
At first, this really bothered me…I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle. Like there was no point in running because let’s face it, I suck at it and I don’t really like it, either. I wondered if I should quit and go back to Tae-bo or watching The Today Show as I half-heartedly covered miles on the elliptical. For some reason, though, I kept on going.
One day (somewhere around week 5 maybe?), I ran eight whole minutes without walking.
I thought I was going to die. It was like childbirth. I didn’t think I could do it (I really, really didn’t think I could…), but then…I did it. I ran for eight minutes. I didn’t die (clearly). In fact, I felt alive!
I realized that I could do it. I could finish this damn running program, extra weight and sore shins and crapped-out hips and all. And from that point on, it wasn’t really a question of whether or not I would finish…I decided that I would see this through.
But here’s the thing – and this is really what this post is all about – running is such a mental exercise for me.
I just cannot get out of my head.
I am constantly telling myself how hard this is, how long I have to go, how depressing it is to be passed by someone who’s lapping me repeatedly and not even breaking a sweat. I tell myself my shins hurt, my hips hurt, I hate running. I struggle to make it past a group of slow walkers and I feel the wind get sucked out of my sails because I realize, again, that maybe I should find something better to do with my time at the gym.
The only thing that keeps me going is that I don’t want to quit. I want to finish. I need this! And so I remind myself to stay in the moment. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. Seriously, you guys – I am living nano-second to nano-second as I muddle around the track.
It’s a constant battle between one part of my brain telling me I can’t do it, and another part of my brain telling my feet to just keep moving and see what happens.
And honestly? It’s actually getting a little bit easier. Somedays, I finish off my run stronger and faster than when I started it. The voice in my head is starting to quiet as my confidence increases. I apply yoga techniques to my jog – I tell myself that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing, this is about me (for some reason, I don’t think twice about being an uncoordinated and unflexible mess in yoga!). I remind myself to lead with my heart.
And then (always unexpectedly, for some reason), I finish my jog for the day. And I tell myself that next time, I’ll know that I can do it because I’ve already done it once before. And I remind myself that it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing because this is only – ONLY – about me. And I feel amazing, because I DID IT. Three months ago, I started off huffing and puffing after one minute of jogging…and now I can run for thirty whole minutes without stopping! That’s nuts.
What brought this introspective drivel on was today’s run.
It was awful. Like, really awful. My energy level was low and I felt like I was dragging my feet through wet cement. Skipping a song on my phone took more energy than I could bare, and the elderly walking crowd (who I normally admire, I swear) was EXTRA track-blocky today.
I kept thinking about a show I had watched the other day with Dr. Wayne Dyer (love him!) in which he discussed the importance of saying “I am” with intent.
I was thinking, without realizing it, “I am slow. I am sucking at today’s jog. I am miserable,” etc., etc. But a louder voice was telling me, “I am running. I am capable of running for thirty minutes. I am finishing this run.”
And I did it. I finished. Like I knew I could.
I don’t know where this negativity comes from. I don’t think negatively about horses, or my blog, or my kids…I feel like I’m capable of anything! It drives me crazy that I spend so much time inside my head when I should just be zoning out (or in) and enjoying a good workout. The weird thing is, though…now that I’ve got to this point, I don’t want to quit.
I like that I’m jogging, even if I don’t actually like jogging.
So. After all that whining about my own bad attitude and mental blocks, I’ve got questions for those of you who jog/run regularly.
I don’t really know what to do next. I don’t know if I should focus on increasing my speed/distance (I don’t know how far I’m running, but I would guess it’s barely over two miles), or if I should work on my attitude (now that I’m at a distance that is challenging but within my capability level) first? Or do I just keep on trucking forward and start working on the 5K to 10K program?