I have recently taking up running. I should say right off the bat that prior to late February of this year, I have never really been a runner. I made feeble attempts at Couch to 5K in the past, but I never stayed with it then. I had literally never run a mile straight. Actually, I can’t recall a time when I ever ran any distance at all. Running just wasn’t my thing. I used to tease and say “I’m not running if nothing is chasing me.” I meant it. I had no interest in running. Oh, I knew it was fantastic exercise, but I was just sure it wasn’t for me. After all, my lungs didn’t like to cooperate with running and I could always work out in other ways, right? The excuses were plentiful and mostly legit.
I can’t say exactly what inspired me because, frankly, I don’t know WHY, but I told Mickey in late February that if he found a 5k for me in April that I would train and run it. He took me at my word and found a local 5k for me. The date? April 2nd. When I first told him I’d run an April race, I was thinking late April, naturally. But, no…he found one the very first Saturday of the month. I knew I had to make good on my word, so I got to work.
I knew I wanted to go use the “Couch to 5k” training program, but I wanted it to be more interactive. So, I purchased the Interval Run app for my iPhone. This app has a few training programs, C25K being one of them. Mickey has an arm band for iPhone, so I was able to wear my iPhone and play the app at the same time. This is an excellent app, in my opinion. I could play my own music playlist in the background and run the app over it. The app would break in and tell me when to walk/run at each interval. That way I didn’t have to keep up with time on a watch – I could just focus on running. The app also keeps a record of runs. I highly recommend it!
When I first started training, it was HARD. As in, running for one minute straight was extremely difficult. I dreaded when I would have to run two minutes straight and then MORE. I didn’t look forward to the early training runs at all, but I kept plugging away at them. My friend Curi ran with me for my second training run and I know she had to think that I was a total wimp, but, to her credit, she pushed me and didn’t let me stop. Due to crazy schedules, I wasn’t able to run with her again for a couple of weeks and in that time she could definitely see marked improvement with my running. By that point, I was up to five minutes in a row. FIVE minutes. Woah. Okay, that seems silly now, but back then it seemed pretty incredible. When I was able to break five minutes, I somehow knew I could go all the way with the training.
At this point, I’m due for a confessional. I dropped the C25k program about mid-way through. It’s a great program and I was doing well on it. However, I just felt ready to push for more. I got on the treadmill at the Y one day and ran a nice easy mile and a half. It wasn’t fast nor strenuous, but I did it! I was so proud! I knew then that I could start pushing for more distance. So, I did. Curi and I went out to the Chattahoochee River one Friday for me to attempt two miles. This was a first for me because I had only run the mile and a half on the treadmill earlier in the week and I surely had not run any distance outside. But, we went and I was determined. Guess what?! I did it!! Curi was so encouraging along the way and I made it!! This was just over three weeks before my first 5k, so it really bolstered my confidence that I’d be able to tackle the whole 5k prior to race day. WOO HOO!! (Note: It’s not advisable to rush training. This blog is the abridged version of my training story. I took it easy and made sure I could do this without stress. C25K is an excellent program and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This is my own opinion, not paid for it.)
I won’t candy-coat anything, I still didn’t enjoy running while in the process, but I was all about the “runner’s high”/energy burst afterward. For that matter, I’m still mostly that way. I don’t exactly love pounding the pavement, but I am all about the accomplishment and energy. I can definitely tell that my fitness level has increased a great deal already. I am just amazed.
Back to my training story. Mickey and I went back out to the river two Fridays before the race. I wanted to push for three miles. Well, more accurately, he thought I could push for three and I decided to go for it. It was not at all easy, admittedly, but I made it! I did three miles for the very first time on Friday, March 18th!! It wasn’t quite the 3.1 mile 5k distance, but I was darn close and I was SUPER happy with my progress!! I was also completely amazed at how far I had come in a few short weeks. Running a minute straight had been a challenge when I started and with training I was able to finally put three miles under my shoes. Amazing!! Mickey and I decided to run the race course the week prior to my first 5k. So, on Friday, March 25th, we set out to run the course. We had driven it and I knew it was hilly, so I was a little bit intimidated. I am all about pacing myself and Mickey is gracious enough to pace with me, so we set out on the course on Friday morning and I ran the whole thing! My time just over 42 minutes. Not speedy, but I wasn’t going for speed – I was going for completion. SUCCESS!!!
I have heard people talk about having “bad runs” and I felt very fortunate in my early training that I hadn’t had a really bad run yet. Hard ones, sure, but no BAD ones. That changed the Wednesday just before race. I set out to run a 2.5 mile loop near our house and I just bombed. I wound up walking quite a bit of it. It was just bad. I couldn’t get into the run physically nor mentally. Ugh. So, my first bad run was officially under me at that point.
Saturday, April 2nd was race day. Mickey and I were running it together and my friend Melody had signed up too. My first race. Several friends had told me that the adrenaline on race day is pretty amazing and that it would carry me. All I can say is — YES, they were correct. Lining up at the start line was pretty exciting. I knew I had to reign myself in and not just take off based on surging adrenaline, so that’s what I did. Mickey stayed with me and we ran a nice smooth pace the whole race. Melody was ahead of us, but we could see her the whole time. My official time was just over 39 minutes. I had shaved off THREE minutes from my time the week prior. WOW!!! I knew then that I was hooked. I had accomplished my two race goals – run the whole time and don’t finish last. I had literally gone from the couch to a 5k in a few short weeks. Amazing!!
Mickey and I have a goal now to run one 5k per month. We have been scouring Run Georgia‘s website to find races in our general area. There are great ones happening all over Georgia, and especially the metro area, so it’s easy to find ones to run together. We weren’t planning to run another 5k in April, but some of our Sunday School friends invited us to join them at a race last weekend and we did that one too. The course was nice and flat, beside the river, and I turned in a time of 36:53 officially. My time was better than my previous best. Sweet!! Now we are looking for other races to run each month. Exciting!
Mickey entered us into the lottery to try to get Peachtree Road Race numbers and WE GOT IN! Both of us!! So, now I am officially training for a 10k. The Peachtree is a famous Atlanta 10k that takes place every July 4th. I used to say people were crazy to get out and run in that Georgia heat, but it looks like I’m joining their ranks now. No one ever said I wasn’t crazy, did they?! 🙂 I’m looking forward to that huge race. I know already that I won’t be racing for time, but more for the experience.
My journey into running has been a success story. I’m not exaggerating when I say I never thought I’d be a runner. I never really had any interest in it, honestly. Mickey has been a runner for years and years, but I never thought I would be too. I’m still not at the point where I “love” it, but I’m enjoying it more all the time. I’m also incredibly proud of my accomplishments. I am just in awe at how God created this body to respond in strength. When things get tough during a run, I remember Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” AND Hebrews 12:1 – “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” These really inspire me and push me to keep going. It also helps to have great music in my ear.
If you’ve ever thought about running, but didn’t think you could do it, I encourage you to try. The first few weeks are tough, I’ll admit that, but it’s worth it. Don’t give up. Give the Couch to 5k program a shot. Try the Interval Run app if you want something a little more interactive. If I can do this, anyone can. I’m convinced.