Running again

My last attempts at running never went anywhere, but I’m trying again. This time I’ve been doing a couch-to-5k app that has you do a run/walk program for about 30 minutes 3 times a week. It’s exactly what I need right now. I need someone to tell me what to do, and I love that I can listen to my playlists at the same time. I’m not actually training for a 5k, but I would like to be fit enough to do that distance if I felt like it. 

Sometimes the workouts are actually a little bit too easy, but that’s working for me too. If I feel like doing more I can always run during the walking parts. And it means I can always succeed at these workouts. So many times I’ve tried to do too much too fast and I end up hurting and feeling like I failed. 

So I’ve been doing this for two weeks and I’ve already had a sore knee, a broken toe and two days of headaches. Normally that would be enough to make me quit, but I can’t give up this time. I need to do something to give me my energy back and help me get back in shape. And after a year and a half with Harper I can handle a lot more than I used to!

Exercise

Back when I decided to do the cleanse, I also decided that I was going to focus 100 percent on food, and hold off on exercise until I felt I had the food part down. It turned out to be a good idea, because not only was the food part a monster in itself, but as I detoxed I often felt tired or headache-y or just generally not my best.

But by the end of February I felt like I was ready to start exercising again. I confess I have a hard time sticking to any one exercise for a long period of time, which has contributed a lot to my issues with the scale. So I decided to make some goals that had only to do with the amount of time I worked out, not what I did.

And because I am a super list maker (and a little OCD about organization), I took a tip from Maggie and made myself a little grid with boxes I can check off as the month goes on.

It’s worked really well so far. My goal is to get in 30 minutes of exercise per day, for a total of 2.5 hours per week. To me that is reasonable and sustainable in the long term. Most of the time I end up doing an hour at at time, and checking off two days worth. I’ve gone on hikes, walks, even runs (!!). I am excited for bike rides and yoga/Nia classes to enter the mix. I’ve gotten more fresh air and sun, and explored my neighborhood quite a bit. The dogs are getting more exercise, too. It’s all good.

Off to Colorado

Finally, we’re taking a trip to Denver/Boulder for a few days to catch up with friends and revisit my (brief) stomping grounds. I hope it’s the same, I hope it’s different. I hope it doesn’t rain as much as the forecast calls for.

We’re also running the Bolder Boulder, a 10k race (at altitude, am I crazy?). I’ve been training, not enough, but hopefully getting in those few long runs make it bearable. I need to sign myself up for this stuff or I will never stay motivated.

I’m just glad we’re taking a trip, a true vacation, to a place I really love. It may even be worth driving 10 hours across Nebraska.

How to save money in a recession and be otherwise productive

I had a little realization this week. I was just thinking about how different things were a year ago, when I had an SUV and gas was going up like 50 cents a day. My credit card debt felt crushing. The economy wasn’t le suck yet, but it wasn’t fantastic either. I was just starting to understand that I could take control of my life and stop feeling like it controlled me.

Little by little I made a lot of changes. And now, things are better. Having just paid off a small loan I’m seeing slightly bigger paychecks. The debt has been dented. The car has been traded in for a smaller, cheaper one. I’m saving in advance of travel (what a concept).

Starting the crafty business did not make me rich, but it did give me something to get excited about.

All of this means that when I take a week with no pay next week I don’t have to despair. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay when we inevitably have to do it again. And the other thing I realized is that if the debt number doesn’t go down this month, that’s okay, too. I can’t be upset at myself if a little thing like not receiving a paycheck interferes with my plans. I’ll do my best, but I can’t move mountains.

I think just reflecting a little and seeing that I really did make progress, even if it was slow, is so important. I need that confidence in a year when everything has been so overwhelmingly negative. I can do this. I am doing it. No doubt I won’t make the progress I could have made in a better year, but it’s pointless to dwell on that.

And the other thing? I’m running again. After rest didn’t help my twisted knee I just said screw it and hobbled through a walk with the dogs and a few steps jogging. The next day it felt better. So I ran a little bit longer. Then it felt a lot better. So I’ve kept going out, running a little longer every time. Chugging up hills, wiping away snotsicles. Laughing at how little I can run compared to how much I used to. But being proud nonetheless. I remember why I do this now, this crazy thing. It just feels so good when you conquer something that is so hard. The runners high is real, no matter how far you are to the back of the pack. And believe me, I am always there. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to do that race in May that I was hoping for.

Baby steps, ya know?

Running in a skirt?

The new issue of Runner’s World has a great article about running skirts. Well, I suppose they are more like exercise skirts or skorts (because they have shorts inside). I’ve noticed lately that these are more findable in stores, although I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of them going by on the street.

I think the idea of it inspires a sort of gasp response, but as I read, at least one of these companies was started by a woman who found them both comfortable and cute. Something you could exercise in and then go to Dahls for a gallon of milk without feeling totally disgusting.

As with anything, I think it’s about choice. Do you want to wear a skirt when you run (or play tennis, or whatever)? Then wear one. If you hate it, don’t.

I kind of wish they would have touched on the whole gawker aspect that women face when they run. It’s one of my biggest frustrations – I’m pushing up a hill, working my ass off, usually not too happy about it, and then someone honks or yells or whatever and it completely throws me off. NOT a compliment, dude. Would you like someone to do that to your sister? I can’t imagine a skirt improving that situation.

Anyway, i can’t seem to find the article online, but here is a link to the review of skirts. Anyone tried one?

Back of the pack

This morning I ran four miles. Without stopping. That was a pretty big accomplishment considering that I haven’t run much at all since the snow started three months ago, that the gray sky and cold wind made me want to get right back in my car, and mainly that I wasn’t sure I would ever be a runner again after I had back surgery last year.

But somewhere around the two-mile mark I started to feel like I might make it to a 5k, and that would be just fine with me. And then I just kept going. I even felt like I could have kept running after the four-mile mark, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

Out of nowhere I crossed over to that bizarre point when running actually feels good. It’s so easy to forget that point exists, but it does. Otherwise no fool would be a runner.

Running, for me, is hard for all the same reasons other people list. It is especially hard because no matter how hard I train, no matter how much I weigh, no matter how much I spend on shoes or how loud I crank my music, I am slow. People who appear to be much older, barely shuffling, and carrying on entire animated conversations pass me. Asthmatic people could kick my ass in a race. People in the 70-year-old category beat me in the Living History Farms race last fall. And people, I’m 27.

I never advanced past C team in high school cross country, except for one junior varsity performance in which I was something like 47th out of 50. I improved my times, I got stronger, but I never ever saw the front of the pack. I never even saw the middle.

That’s not an easy pill to swallow for someone who’s a perfectionist-overachiever. Usually if I’m not good at something, I just don’t do it. But I guess I am drawn to the solitary activities like running, hiking and yoga in which you can challenge yourself to get better. You never have to shoot the winning free throw, you just have to knock a few seconds off your last time. And dear god keep me as far away as possible from the mean sports, like dodgeball. I just don’t have the aggression (or the arm) for it.

But even though I am embarrassingly slow, I can’t stop running. Something always brings me back to it. It’s like I need to prove to myself than I can do this because it’s so hard and because I’ve never quite mastered it. I need to be a runner, even if it means bringing up the rear every time.

When I read Runners World, which in my opinion is one of the greatest magazines out there, I simply cannot relate to the 80 percent of writers they have that measure their mile splits in the 6s and enter races on a whim to wind up in 3rd place. Do they make 364th place medals? Maybe the real question is, what reward is there for being a slow runner?

I guess it’s just something you have to do for yourself in the name of character development or muscular thighs. And you do meet some fabulous people who are also puttering along in the 11-minute wave.

Not too long ago there was an article in Runners World about a guy who was the worst one on his college cross country or track team, and I loved it. The guy had no regrets about joining the team and setting himself up for humiliation. He did it even though it was that much harder for him than any of the natural athletes who did do well. I’m not that brave, but I will keep running – for my health, for my stubbornness, for my 364th place medal.