Thursday, March 4, 2010

From time to time I get the hankering to start running. Rarely is this followed by the desire to continue running. Nevertheless, the urge has hit me yet again. Perhaps it’s the promise of spring just around the corner or maybe it’s the nasal, British accent coming from my Asics. There’s no need to decide. Here I am contemplating a 5K once again.

I visit a few running websites for the articles and for tips from long-time runners. I also go to them to make myself feel a little better about being so slow. It doesn’t work. I read about someone who is apologizing for their snail’s pace time only to find out they run a ten minute mile. Oh, just shut up. So I guess I’m the one making other people feel better about being what they consider slow.

I have decided to start training by way of the Couch to 5K program on It is a much touted regimen that takes a sedentary individual and runs the crap out of them until they are so accustomed to the abuse that they can run a 5K. That’s the basics of it, anyway. So, ever determined, I journeyed to the Y yesterday after work to start my grueling self-abuse. So exciting!

Parking wasn’t so bad, though it was snowing a little when I went in. I signed in and headed for the locker room. The door to the ladies’ locker room was plastered with flyers as usual for tai chi, prayer group, what have you. I heaved it open and went in to change. Bypassing the scale (why would I want to do that to myself when I’m in a decent mood?)I grabbed my water and shuffled off to the cardio room.

Ah, the cardio room. An endless line of treadmills and ellipticals. And every single one of them was taken. Oh, come on! It’s 4:45! Half of you should still be at work! Great. I could either do something else or stand beside the occupied treadmills intently, busying myself with tips to make my pecs ripple in Men’s Health. Don’t try to picture it, just don’t. Luckily, I noticed someone had just gotten up from a recumbent bike, which I love. I hopped on it, set it to manual, and pedaled away, all the while swiveling my head at all the treadmills to make sure that no one had vacated yet.

After about ten minutes I notice one lady get off the treadmill and go to wipe it down, a new requirement. So I stopped the timer on my bike and hurried two aisles up to claim her unoccupied machine. Wouldn’t you just know, by the time I got up there someone else had jumped on the damn thing. So I had to trot back to my bike so that no one would get it either. There’s not a lot of ways to make that look cool. You could act like you’re stretching out a charley horse, I guess, though still not the height of cool. The girl beside me was looking at me like I was an idiot, and for good reason. She’s still trucking along meanwhile I’m over here playing Musical Cardio Chairs, just hoping for a machine. So I decided to wait a little while the next time I saw someone leave.

It paid off eventually and I got on the treadmill. My heart rate was already up from all the bicycling and hopping from machine to machine, but I still did a warm up. The first day of the Couch to 5K is a five minute warm up walk followed by 60 seconds of running alternated with 90 seconds of walking. The hardest part there is doing the math to make sure your time is right. So I spent the running part trying not to step off to the stationary side of the treadmill whilst still maintaining composure trying not to hyperventilate. Why am I doing this?

I’ve read articles that suggest you focus on what you’re thinking or what is causing you pain while running. I tried that. While I was trying to figure out what I was thinking, all I was thinking was the phrase ‘what am I thinking?’ Vacant? Maybe. Any question I asked I was grasping for answers. My mind is that frantic while I run. I am panicky and mentally wigging out.

I tried to focus on what might have been causing me discomfort, like the article said. I did get an answer to that one. What was causing discomfort? Running! Running! Running is causing me discomfort!! It goes away when I get to walk for 90 seconds. Oh, look, I diagnosed myself. Other than the obvious, there was no distinct pain, just trying to breathe on my left foot. That’s taking a breath every time my left foot hits, I’m not actually doubled over trying to blow on my left foot while I run.

I did finish however. I am keeping a log of my running exploits. Last night it looked like this:

C25K-Day 1

Time: 27:03
Distance: 1.61 mi
Feel after: not tired necessarily, defeated maybe
Thoughts during: Do I really want to do this? This sucks!

That’s my running recap. And yes, that is actually what I wrote.

Winded yet satisfied, I dragged myself back to the locker room for a shower. I undressed and donned a towel, grabbed my shampoo and headed for the shower room. There was a flyer on the door. It said that the shower room was closed for retiling. Come on, man! I sweated! I’m not used to it!

There are a few people around my locker talking so I decide to play it cool and go into a bathroom stall. Why that’s cool, I do not know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was just trying to detract from the fact that I hadn’t noticed the flyers on the OUTSIDE door and, like an idiot, tried to go shower. If that wasn’t enough I thought that going to the bathroom in a TOWEL was going to make me look cooler. Have I been drinking? Well, I got into the stall and the toilet was out of order. Both stalls were. Thankfully there were no signs that I had ignored that said ‘out of order.’ There were still people all around my locker. What to do now? Just lean against the wall in a towel and greet people, maybe warn them about the toilets and the showers? Please go away, people. It worked!

I grabbed my clothes, changed, and left. It didn’t help that it smelled like ham outside when I went to get in the truck.

After all that, my running aftermath consists of tight calves and toe cramps. TOE CRAMPS. All the typical runner injuries out there—IT band issues, shin splints—and I get toe cramps. Fabulous.

On the bright side, I get to do this again Friday.

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