Running: The Deal

So when I started running in November to get ready for my race coming up in a couple of weeks, I started with Couch25K. The beginning was so great. Run a minute, walk a minute…. etc. Building up the running stamina was kind of exciting and not too horribly difficult. So I looked forward to it.

I’m up to running for 15 minutes without stopping to walk, and I’m completing my 2-mile run (on the treadmill) with only a 2-minute walking break between the 15 minutes and about 7-8 minutes to finish. I’ve come a long way. And now I’m even interval training to speed up my pace. In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a really slooooow runner.

You think I’d be excited to get to the gym and see how much I can progress in each run. Yeah, no. I have to make deals with myself every morning when I get up and go to the gym. I run a whole scene through my head every time I hit the treadmill (or the track as the weather gets a little bit warmer). I promise myself each morning as I’m driving to the gym that if I can’t handle the running, I can stop whenever I want. This plays in my head until I get moving. I warm up with a four-minute walk and then start running. I love the 4-minute warmup and wish it would never end.

As I start my run, my knees hurt a little and my muscles groan. My almost 50-year-old body is not always appreciative of the effort I’m making to keep it strong, especially at 5:30 in the morning. I promise myself if I can just get through the first three minutes of the run, I’ll see how I feel and I can always go back to walking if I feel like it. Usually by the end of three minutes, my legs have loosened up some and I figure I can run for another three minutes or so, always keeping in the back of my mind that I can walk if I want to.

I also watch the mileage. When I get to .75 miles, I know I can run for a couple more minutes to get to a mile. At this point, I usually push up the speed to a slightly faster pace for a minute or two. In my head, I want to walk. Instead, I run harder because if I run harder for two minutes, the regular pace seems slower and easier. It seems to be working. I’ve made a lot of progress in the last couple of months, even though it’s still not my favorite exercise. I’d rather swim. But while it’s not my favorite, running is the exercise where I’ve seen the most progress, and that feels great. And I always feel great when I’m done and I’ve pushed just a little farther than the time before.

Friday when I run again, I plan to go the whole two miles without walking. I’m sure there will be lots of inner deals to accomplish that but as long as I accomplish it, I’m ok with that. I start out bribing myself to get started and by the end of my workout, I’m challenging myself to push harder. I might not love exercising, but I love the way I feel because I’m doing it anyway, and getting stronger with each workout.

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