Hi everyone !
Hope you are well and please accept my sincere apologies for the extremely late post. I blame the kids’ summer holiday and the move from London to Hertfordshire for not coming up with any posts. We have recently moved to Hertfordshire and slowly getting everything into a routine. With boxes all around, I was not feeling inspired at all. I hope you understand. Here’s a little update on my life so far.
The people who know me from my school days know that I was an ok runner. I loved running. I used to do 100m, 200m and 400 m relay. So majority of running was sprinting. However, I have always wanted to do endurance running aka long distance running. In order to fulfil my desire to do my first 5K, I enrolled myself at a local running club (Ealing Eagles) in May this year. The idea was to train for couch to 5k in 8 weeks. I know that it’s not a big deal for many but for me it wasn’t any less than training for a marathon!
The training date arrived and I was there at the starting line. But as soon as the time of meeting up started approaching, my heart started beating faster than it ever did. It was not the fear or anticipation for the run. My babysitter cancelled on me at the last minute. I thought may be it wasn’t time yet. I may had to wait a little longer to train. From a distance, I could see all the runners getting ready for the registration. I held on to the stroller and took baby steps towards the person holding the registration paper. The running leader introduced herself and other volunteers of the programme. With a tiny bit of awkwardness and major embarrassment, I introduced myself and told her that ‘my babysitter didn’t turn up and I didn’t know what to do now’. I just said it. Let it out in the universe. I made peace with it that I would have to start the following week. But to my surprise, a very kind gentleman who was an experienced runner and had many major runs under his belt said, ‘you can run with the baby in the stroller and if he is not happy, I will look after him’! I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The whole group cheered and they all remembered me as I was the only one with a stroller. However, what I remembered was the random act of kindness! I had such a boost in my confidence. I thought it would be a walk in the park. I can do it.
Week 1: 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking for an hour.
I parked my stroller and got myself prepared for the stretching exercises. A brief was given about the techniques of endurance running such as how to run when it’s steep, how to use your arms for acceleration and so on. Believe me, I ran out of breath on my first jog. It was at that point of time when reality hit me that ‘it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park’. My body was in a mode of shock. I could hear my muscles mocking me and asking me all sorts of questions – ‘Dude, what’s going on? Are you sure about it? What have you put yourself into?’ I was trying my best to act cool. I acted as if stretching and jogging came as a breath of fresh air and it was right up my ally. The running leader asked in an excited tone ‘Are you all warmed up?’ A big ‘YES’ rolled out from everyone including ‘me’. The next step was to run. How hard could it be considering I hadn’t worked out or ran for about 11 years? The answer – Very hard. I was pushing the stroller and fellow runners started running past me. All of us beginners were assigned a volunteer to run with. The volunteer who ran with me kept me sane. He said, ‘a mile is a mile, don’t worry about the time’. In fact, the entire club is full of members who has the same philosophy of encouragement. Somehow, I completed the first task of the 1st week of the running programme.
Week 2: 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking.
This time I organised a fantastic babysitter for my son. I walked up to the group and before I could open my mouth, the group leader said, ‘You ran very well last time considering you were pushing the stroller, I have upgraded you to 6 minutes of running!’ Huh! I didn’t know I was so convincing in my act! Before I knew it, I ran. But I was getting short of breath. The rule in the running club was that one should run at a pace where you can have a conversation with your fellow runner and still run without getting out of breath. May be I was trying too hard to keep up with other runners. I kept forgetting that it was not a sprint. Although I finished my task but it was not convincing enough for me.
In between the weeks of training, we had to go for runs on our own. Homework was a must for the programme.
Week 3: I felt that I was a fraud for getting upgraded. So I asked the leader to repeat the 6 minutes running and I did. I was still struggling. I was not finding my pace. I was getting tired. Coordination was not there.
Week 4: By week 4, I could see that I was able to do 4 minutes of running quite easily. My body was able to trick my mind. My body was getting used to the change.
In between week 4 and week 8, I finally found home, my pace. Thanks to the brilliant runners who helped me my find my pace. The conversational pace that suited me. I was amazed to see how therapeutic it was! You could appreciate the beauty around and run at the same time. I completed my first continuous 5K, a week before the graduation day. I am so thankful to the amazing volunteer who ran with me and made me complete it. Once I knew that I could do it, the second 5k wasn’t that hard.
It was hard to coordinate everything but it was so worth it. My hope and goal is to be able to continue running because 5k to couch is so much easier to attain:-)
Honest confessions: I felt like an alien to running when I first started. I felt one foot at a time was a misconception. I thought may be I wasn’t meant for it. Conversational pace doesn’t exist. Continuous 5k wasn’t possible. May be people take breaks.
If I can, you can too.
Run in a group, you will be committed to complete.
Work on your breathing.
Do stretching exercise before and after a run.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
There are no short cuts.
Remember: A mile is a mile.