I’ve never been a runner. I was the kid who was the slowest person in the class, the one who never completed the laps around the track in allotted time. I could run for maybe 60-90 seconds, tops, before I got winded and had to stop.
These were all facts. Facts, I thought, that could never be changed.
Well… I was wrong.
Right before my birthday, I got fed up with the fact that I couldn’t run. I can’t really explain it, because it’s not like I was in a position where my quality of life was significantly impacted by my inability to run. I mean, I don’t have to run for work or anything like that! But I was supremely annoyed with myself for letting something I couldn’t do as a kid define my experienced with it as an adult. Somewhere, deep down, I knew that if I tried running, I could do it. Maybe not well, and maybe not quickly, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done.
So I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement, hot summer humidity be damned.
And now, about 10 weeks later, I can truthfully proclaim that I can run.
I can’t stop grinning like an idiot whenever I say that.
It was simultaneously easier and harder than I thought it would be. There were days when I didn’t want to drag myself out of bed. There were days I didn’t know how to pace myself and had dealt with wicked side stitches. There were days I despaired over the cost of sports bras. (Not that this didn’t happen before I ran…) But there were also days when I knew my goal of being able to consider myself a runner was in reach. There were days I felt my legs getting stronger. There were days I knew how to regulate my breathing and pacing and ran faster and further than before. There were days I felt like I was flying, and that alone made it all worth it.
There are two apps that helped me immensely when I was figuring out this whole running thing:
Couch to 5K
The app that started it all, really. (For me, anyway.) It’s a free interval based training system that alternates walking and jogging till you work up to jogging/running the full 5K by the end of Week 8. It’s pretty manageable for the first four weeks, but Week 5 is when it shifts from shorter intervals to longer ones. I really liked how it told me how many running intervals I had left for that day’s training, when I was halfway, and when I had one minute left. (I usually went all out in that last minute.) There’s a 10K training app equivalent that I’ll probably start using soon.
I didn’t start using Runkeeper with my Couch to 5K runs till Week 7, when there were no more walking intervals and my training was just solid running. Runkeeper’s GPS tracks where you’re running as well as your pace. I like how it generates a map of where I’ve run at the end of my workout, because while I tend to run in the same part of my neighborhood I tend to switch up the specifics based on the traffic lights (I don’t want to be stuck waiting at a red light!) Every five minutes, it’ll tell you how many minutes you’ve been running, how many miles you’ve run, and what your pace is. Every time you’re done with a workout, it saves it so you can compare different workouts and see what progress you’ve made. Runkeeper offers a training program option I’ve not tried yet, but since I’m finished with Couch to 5K I might give it a whirl before I progress to the 10K training app. I use the free version of Runkeeper, because as far as I can tell, it meets all of my needs.
And there you have it! Thanks to Couch to 5K and Runkeeper (and a killer music playlist), I can now call myself a runner. Now I just gotta work on speed in preparation for the 5K I’m running in November…