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The Change of a Lifestyle

April 10, 2008

From sitting on the couch eating cheesy poofs (thanks, SteveRunner!) to running 30 miles a week–how did it happen?

Well, you have to remember that I didn’t go from no running to running five days a week. I started walking in the spring of 2006, about 3 1/2 miles, three days a week. Then the following year, my walking partner (the second one) had to go on bed rest briefly when she got pregnant, and I started walking on the treadmill. Because I was walking alone, I started walking faster, eventually walking five miles in the time she and I used to walk 2.5. Then I started running the last lap of every run. Then the last lap of every mile. Then the last half of every mile, and so on. The first time I ran a mile (four laps) without stopping was August 12, 2007. Then I would walk a little and run some more. Eventually I was running four miles without stopping, and I set the goal of finishing a 5k. My goal was to do it in 30 minutes, which would be 10-minute miles. Well, I did it on December 1, 2007 in 26:15: that was 8:26-minute miles. So at that point I realized that more than just feeding my fitness, running could feed my competitive spirit, too, and I think that, more than anything else, got me hooked. But, as this rather long story proves, it was a long road. After that 5k I ran a 10k, which was not a good race for me, and after that I decided to train for the half marathon, which I felt I performed well at. Since then I’ve decided to work at improving my short-distance times (5 and 10ks) and run another half in the winter. But you have to remember, I also started walking as part of Weight Watchers. I weighed a whopping 169 pounds when I started WW. And I’m five-foot-zip. So I was pretty big. My goal weight then was between 125 and 120, which I achieved walking, and I got into a size 4. Running, I’ve gotten down to about 110, and I’m in a size 0. So that’s a good motivation too. I know part of me is running from the fat girl in all those old pictures, too.

And, finally, I won’t lie to you: running is addictive. Take too many days off and runners will tell you their minds and bodies miss the adrenaline and endorphins generated by a good (or even bad) run. I know I do. Hence the sentiment: “if Mom gets cranky, send her for a run.”

How do you do it? Well, you don’t have to run. Running isn’t for everyone. It can be tough on the joints, and I do some of my running with a knee brace b/c I have nagging knee pain. But if you want to do it, I hear that the way I did it is the best way to do it–start by walking and gradually add short running distances. Although I didn’t follow any formal plan, there is a plan called Couch to 5k, which takes you from sitting on the couch to running a 3.1-mile race. Even if you choose not to run the race, at the end of the program you should be able to run three miles without stopping. There’s a support group for people following the program at the site where I log my runs, RunningAhead.

You also have to remember that I have an ideal situation: G is almost unbelievably supportive–and happy, I’m sure, to reap the benefits of the 60-pound weight loss. He has fed the kids breakfast alone many times while I was running, then showering. I have come home from long runs many Saturdays to find the kids up, dressed, breakfasted, and playing with their trikes in the driveway. I know not everyone has that kind of support system. I sometimes get up early to run, but I’d have to get up even earlier if G wasn’t willing to do all that for me, and Saturday long runs would be all but impossible. He has also been willing to be financially supportive, since running has required an investment in new tech clothes, and new (not inexpensive) shoes. And it was his sweet Christmas gift, my Garmin, that has most helped me track and log my paces and times during my long runs.
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