Against The Wind

I have decided to take up running. Why? Good question. I have never been a runner. Ever. I find it difficult, and I’ve been told I look funny doing it. So what am I doing? Well, as a newish mother, I have some baby weight to lose, and my fitness routine has taken a direct hit. I used to love a combination of spin class and boot camp classes, because I can’t seem to motivate myself at the gym. When the going gets tough, I get going. Home. To eat cookies. I have to force myself with peer pressure to workout.

But, now that I have my little bundle of joy, it is: (a) difficult to get to classes (or really anything with a set time), especially those without childcare, and (b) expensive. And running – which, I’m sure, could be as expensive as I choose – is relatively inexpensive. I already have shoes, and the Internet is full of people trying to help me start running. And I can do it any time. I don’t currently have a jogging stroller (definitely want to make sure I’m actually going to use it before I buy one), so I’m going solo.

And, since I’m on my own, I need some sort of motivation other than my weak, weak will. When I saw a posting on Facebook about a running study at the U of C, I thought that might be the peer pressure I need to get moving. Basically, I have to run for at least ten minutes, four times a week. I will be randomly assorted into a group, each getting different exercises to do, and then I will be assessed over the course of four months for injury. It will be interesting to see if there is a difference between the groups, and if some exercises can help to mitigate injuries associated with taking up running. But I’m really in it for the follow up and accountability. I have to run and do the exercises I’m given – otherwise I will ruin the study and be an enemy to science. We can’t have that, now, can we?

I still needed a little more help than threatening my relationship with science to get started, so I found an article on Runner’s World about adding running to your workout routine. And, after a cursory search of the Internet, I found a free app recommended by a couple of running blogs: Nike+. The Coach function on the app set up a routine for me, ostensibly to train for a 5k, and that seemed reasonable. The Runner’s World article and the Nike app gave me conflicting advice. The article recommends starting with a walk/run ratio of 4:1 minutes, while the app recommended 1:1. I decided to go with the app, because I wanted faster results and four minutes of walking just “seemed” like too much. Nike makes my shoes, so obviously they know what I should do, right?

Well—score one for Runner’s World because I was so sore the next day. Sore hip flexors, groin, knees, shin splints, everybody’s best friends came to visit. So, yes, I decided to go back and truly follow that article to the letter. I need to practice patience, to slowly build strength over time. I’m not sure why I was in such a hurry, but I still feel it every time I get out there and run. I just want to run as hard and fast as I can, maybe just because I want to get it over with. But that’s pretty silly—I am trying to condition myself to cultivate a pastime here, not become a runner as fast as humanly possible. If my purpose is to FeelGood, then it doesn’t matter how quickly I get into great running shape. It matters if I can walk the next day.

The key that I have gleaned from Runner’s World and my personal experience here is pretty obvious and was right in front of me the entire time: listen to your body, take it as slowly as you need to in order to avoid unnecessary pain and strain. Also—make sure you have enough battery life on your phone to make it the entire run, because running without a phone is like returning to the Dark Ages. No music, no timer, no odometer, just me counting out seconds like some kind of medieval sucker.  But I am actually starting to enjoy my runs, although I would still call them “runs,” since they are still walk/run hybrids.  I might actually become a “runner” eventually… We’ll see.


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