In other words… “How to run.” It’s something we all do, as kids. We learn to crawl, then to walk, then we feel the need to get somewhere faster, probably so our Moms won’t have time to stop us, and we begin to run.
I never thought of it as something I had to learn how to do. I knew how to do it. I just wasn’t any good at it. I accepted that as my lot in life around the time I was twelve or so, when my best friend was asked to try out for our junior high track team and I wasn’t.
“It’s okay,” I told myself. “I don’t need to be athletic.” And I kept telling myself that for another twenty-six years.
My brother, on the other hand, always jogged. He’s about fifteen years older than me, and I clearly remember him running when I was a kid. Like Rocky Balboa, without the speech impediment. And I don’t recall Rocky ever wearing a t-shirt that said, “Jogging gives me the runs.” But my brother? Yep. He wore it. Proudly.
He still runs, and the past few years, he’s been running 5k races with his daughter. And I was with that daughter when I first heard about the Warrior Dash. They were my inspiration… I mean, genetically speaking, I can’t be that much different than my brother and my niece, can I? If they can run, I should be able to, too!
Internets to the rescue!!!! I googled, “How to train for a 5k,” and discovered the Couch to 5k Running Plan. I’d heard friends mention it before, but never paid much attention to it. Hmmmm… It promises to be able to get a couch potato (me!) off my ass and able to run 30 minutes straight, or approximately 5k, in just nine weeks. You start off running just a one minute interval, followed by 90 seconds of walking, and repeated for a half hour, and you do that three times a week. The next week, you run 90 seconds, and walk two minutes. The following week, you run three minutes straight, and so on and so on.
One minute?! I can do anything, no matter how distasteful, for one minute! (Trying so hard to avoid bad jokes about ex-boyfriends…) Even running!
First, I tried running in the park with our dog, Beavis. A Pekingese with three inch legs does not make a good running partner. Not when he wants to stop to pee on every tree, shrub, fence post, and particularly high blade of grass he sees. Still, we did it. I think. I didn’t have a stop watch, so I counted out the seconds in my head. Probably not the most accurate form of telling time. One hippopotamus. Two hippopotamus. Three hippopotamus… Until I felt like all sixty hippopotamuses were standing on my chest.
The next time, I left the dog at home, and hit the streets. It was a little better, except a few times when I forgot to count and ran a little too far and too fast.
Then Mother Nature decided to play a mean trick on me. Snow, snow, and more snow. Then a little bit of a thaw, then a freeze, so the snow that didn’t get shoveled turned to ice. Great.
I did what I swore I’d never do. I joined a gym, our local Planet Fitness. The concept really bugged me. I had to drive about 6 miles to get there, so I could run in place on a machine. It seemed so WRONG. But it worked. I got back in gear with my Couch to 5k running.
I clearly remember week two, when I was on the last run of the intervals. Ninety seconds left to go. Then thirty. Jeopardy was on… Final Jeopardy. The music was playing. I remember thinking, “Thirty seconds. The music lasts thirty seconds. You can keep going until this music stops, dammit!” Do do, do do, do do doooo… Do do, do do, DO, do do do do do…. Do do, do do, do do do. DO do do do do… do. do. doo. BOM BOM. Yay! I did it! Rocky had “Gonna Fly Now.” I had “Jeopardy.”
A few weeks later, I ran my first mile. I was so proud of myself. I did it ahead of schedule, too. It took twelve minutes, at 5 mph, but… I… RAN… A… MILE! Then it was two miles, then two and a half, then two and three quarters, then when I was going to try for three miles, I ran 3.25 miles instead! That’s MORE than a 5k! I did it! I was a C25K graduate!
Now I just had to run a race…