Learning to run.
How to describe what it's like learning to run.
It's funny, because it's not like you actually have to *learn* to run. I mean, we all ran as kids, right? And I know running was fun. Running to your friend's house, running through the sprinkler, running along the beach to jump into a wave, all fun, easy, accompanied by laughter.
I ran when I was in elementary school. Sprints. Seem to remember I was pretty fast, but who knows how objective those memories are. I also remember feeling like I was flying when we would jump off a hill at the side of the elementary school. I went back a few years to visit the school and the huge hill? Was more of a mound. So maybe I was fast, maybe not, but I liked running when I was a kid.
I didn't run in high school. Puberty hit and my body changed and all of a sudden things jiggled and I felt heavy in my own body and running wasn't as free and fun anymore. I still ran, but as part of the sports I was involved in, and truth be told, I was usually a forward on most of the teams I was on so I didn't have to do as much running as some. (Hello, I can make three pointers, so I'll just hang out on this side of the court and you bring the ball to me, kay? Yeah, ask me how much my coach liked that attitude. Can you say benched my lazy butt?
I've always stayed physically active, and up until a year and a half ago, the gym was a highly regular part of my week.
Then I was in a car accident and had to scale back. Significantly. Had to balance my want to be active with my body's need to recover. Had to deal with the frustration of losing strength and muscle and fitness with allowing myself to heal. Had to deal with a lot of pain. Had to re-learn how to be gentle with myself in so many ways. But through it all, I was determined to stay fit and active.
January saw me starting my daily exercise (with the "even if it's only a fifteen minute walk around the block" mantra helping me get out on those days when I wanted nothing more than to collapse on the couch after a tough day of spy work) and April had me walking my way through a 10k.
Then C-Dawg signed up for a learn to run clinic. "I want to get fit" she said. Knowing that C-Dawg had been hurt worse than I was in the accident and figuring if she was brave enough to try it I could too, I signed up.
And three weeks ago, I showed up at my first Beginners Run clinic.
I'd asked S if she'd go with me, because lord knows I'd never have shown up if I hadn't had someone going with me, and thank goodness she said yes because walking in that door the first night was so intimidating we both nearly turned around and walked back out.
There are a ton of different ways to start running, but the majority of them, if not all of them, have you starting out with a short "run" followed by a walk. (I put run in quotations because it's not like you have to go fast. You just go the speed you can, and our leader suggests we go at a speed that allows us to chat with the person we're next to, so for some of us coughmecough, it's actually slower to run than to walk. Go figure.)
You then repeat this run/walk series a certain number of times and then you stretch, celebrate your survival and go home. (Where I stretch some more, with my physio directed accident recovery stretches before jumping in the shower and feeling proud of myself for doing it.)
So how is it?
I think it's difficult for everyone, but talking with S and C-Dawg about their experiences with it, it's hard for them in different ways than it is for me.
For me, the first few times I hated how my body felt. Strangely enough, it made me feel like I was huge and heavy. Something about the thudding of my body over and over as my feet pounded the pavement and things jiggled and bounced made me feel fat. Which I know I'm not, but it still felt like it.
And the first week, things hurt. Muscles and tendons and whatnots all hurt and I wondered if maybe this was too much to ask my body to do.
They ask you to do two "homework" runs throughout the week before the next clinic and I wasn't sure I'd bother, but one of the ladies who'd done the clinic before told me it really really made a difference if you did them, so I did them that first week and weirdly enough? My body hurt less after the second run and less again after the third. (Epsom salts and careful stretching also played a part in that though.)
I went into the next week wondering how I'd make it through the increase in run time, but I did and I was super stoked. It feels amazing to do something physical that you didn't think you'd be able to do. Run for two minutes eight times with only a minute's break in between? No way I can do that. But it turns out I can.
And I can even run for three minutes in a row with only a minute's rest in between.
Is it easy? Getting easier?
Things don't hurt as much as they did that first time (knock on wood so as not to jinx anything) but man do I feel un-fit.
I'm huffing and puffing by the last repetition of run/walk and my feet are shuffling and honestly, it'd be faster, many times faster, if I'd just stop "running" and walk, and I hate it while I'm doing it. It's a constant feeling of "no way I'm going to be able to do this and how many more times?" But I stubborn my way through it. Sometimes it's pure willpower and sometimes it's "well, C-Dawg wouldn't give up if she were here" and sometimes it's just that I'd feel awful if I quit on it, but man it's hard. And it doesn't feel good. The running. Not at all.
I know a lot of people who run and love it. They love how it feels and how their body feels and how it's like flying.
For me it just feels bad and every time I'm doing it it feels bad. And I feel unfit.
But once I'm done? I feel great. Endorphin frigging heaven and then I stretch and shower and I'm the happiest person out there.
Happy and proud of myself which feels even better. Happy and proud of myself because damnit I did something I hate and it felt awful but I finished it and I'm so proud of myself for that.
But I don't look forward to it.
The clinic night are interesting because I look forward to seeing S and chatting with her makes things go faster but I still don't enjoy it. I don't know if I'd do a clinic again, because I feel like the loser of the group; everyone else is fitter than I am and it feels like everyone else has done the clinic before so they're not worried about next week, and oh crap now they're doubling back to pick me up because I'm that far behind the rest of them, I'm that slow. So the clinics are difficult in that they make me feel like I'm losing and the competitor in me hates that feeling. But there's something about having committed to and having paid for the group that makes it something I'd do again. And the leader is awesome. I kind of want to cry when I think about how encouraging she is and how she always seems to say the right thing when I'm struggling or scared or whatever it is.
She tells me I'm a runner.
She tells me I'm faster than all those people who're at home on their couches watching tv. And I have to remember that because on clinic night I always feel like I'm slower than everyone there. So I'll have to remind myself that I may be slower than the people who've come out to a beginner run clinic but I'm way faster than all the people who didn't.
I don't know if I can make it through this week's run. I may have to tell S to go on ahead without me. (In my head, I'll be picturing a dramatic scene from a movie where I tell her to go on ahead without me, knowing that once she leaves, I'll die from. . . the zombies or the freezing weather or the....typhoid or whatever it is, because in my head things are way more fun.) I may have to just suck it up and accept that I'm the slowest and the least fit and if they all glare at me and roll their eyes at me for being slow (except they wouldn't do that, that's also in my head. Sometimes it's fun in my head, sometimes it's crazy.) at least I'm doing it and only I know how frigging hard it is for me.
Nutshell? I don't enjoy the sensation or the show-me-how-unfit-I-am-ness of learning to run, or beginner running or run/walking or whatever you want to call it. I don't enjoy it while I'm doing it at all. Every time I'm doing it I think "man, I should totally blog about how much this sucks and how much I hate it and how awful I feel." But you guys? I'm so so proud of myself and so far, every week I've been blown away that I managed to do it again. That I've managed to add another minute on to the length of time I can run in a row. You guys, I can run for three minutes in a row. Three! It's frigging awesome. It makes me happy to know how far I've come and while my head tells me I may never make it through this week or next, I also know how good I feel after accomplishing each run/walk. Physically and emotionally.
So if you asked? I'd tell you it was worth it.
(Just don't ask me if it's worth it *while* I'm out there running.)