Sunday, April 3, 2011

Learning to Run

Last Saturday I completed my first group run. I joined the local running club: Carolina Godiva Running Club. Each Spring the club hosts a training program to help "couch potatoes" become runners.  Fittingly, the program is called "Running Start". 

I have never been an athelete.  I don't mean that I never considered myself to be atheletic.  I mean I've never done anything atheletic.  Actually, I may be a little wrong about that last statement.  When I was young (5 years or so) I L.O.V.E.D. to swing on swingsets.  I could swing for hours.  --This is passive exercise, I think.  In elementary school, during recess, I was not one to play German Dodge Ball or jump rope.  Instead, I was playing jacks or a card game called "Spit". --Both games involved fairly good hand-eye coordination as well as a competitive element.  I was quite good at both. But physical exercise type play? Not really my thing. 

Do you remember grade school?  When P.E. meant two teams and the captains chose classmates to be on their teams one by one.  The last student standing was either someone that would impede a team's chance of winning or simply someone that others didn't like.  Regardless, it was not fun to be the last to be picked. --I don't know if teachers still approach team sports in this way, but I hope not.  Clearly, I was often one of the last students to be chosen.  I don't remember feeling unduly humiliated or anything.  I mainly remember really, really, not wanting to go outside to play.  Usually, it was either Kick Ball or German Dodge Ball.  It was hot outside! Dodge Ball S.U.C.K.E.D!  I mean running away from people trying to hit you with a ball?  Who calls that fun?

But, again I digress.  When my sisters and I were kids...the whole family played soft ball in the back yard.  Dad was the pitcher and Mom was the catcher.  Whoever was not at bat played outfield. It was great fun.  I was pretty good at softball then.  I almost always hit the ball and got to base.  I enjoyed that one sport that I was so good at well enough to have a soft ball birthday part one year.  The weirdest thing was when we played softball during school P.E. I always struck out.  I found that to be weird and confusing.  Eventually I learned/figured out that in our back yard softball games my Dad was an extraordinary pitcher.  He was actually pitching to my bat!  It makes me smile. I got to enjoy a family sport and had my confidence boosted.  I was never discouraged when I struck out at school...just confused. You see, I knew I was good at softball, but was just having several "off" days.

I hated PE through out school. I participated because I had to, but I never enjoyed it.

As an adult I continued to be a non athelete. I would much rather read a book than exercise. Sometime after one of my thirty-something birthdays my weight became something that became harder and harder to manage. At some point, after the baby, I started Weight Watchers and lost the weight that had snuck up on me.  I kept the weight off long enough to be considered a "Lifetime" member of Weight Watchers.  I was quite pleased with this.  I did this with both diet AND exercise.  I joined the nearby gym and went three times a week.  I wrote down my food intake along with my exercise each day and was happily successful.

But "lifetime" isn't really a lifetime of success. When my daughter was in 4th grade I became a full time MBA student while continuing to work full time.My life consisted of coming home from work, mothering my daughter, helping her with homework and then working on my own homework after my daughter was in bed. School was all day on Saturdays. Breakfast muffins / pastries were provided. Lunch was off campus (a quick car ride to grab a quick bite). And afternoon snacks of brownies or cookies were always there between classes.  --I loved the cookies. By the time I finished the MBA, my weight was where it had been before weight watchers. Only, now I was several years older and the weight was harder to get off.

When we were in Seattle, I completed a health and fitness program called 20/20. I got in the best physical shape I had ever been in. I started to enjoy working out and began to create goals. The weight didn't stay off (once again...). So I'm back to diet and trying to pump up the exercise.

I have always admired runners. I believe if you have stamina to run, you may have stamina for many more sports activities. Perhaps that is what I lacked as a kid. Stamina and skill.

So, now I'm doing the Couch to 5 K training with Running Start program.  --The first day was quite hard. One of the hardest things is getting up early on a Saturday morning. Runners are hard core, let me tell you! But I did it. And I went back and ran again Monday night and again Wednesday night and again this Saturday. And every time it's hard.  But it's also something I want to do. I am choosing it. I feel mysefl get stronger each time. I want this for myself.

And so, I will continue to show up and ask my body to move further and longer than it thinks it can. --One minute at a time. I'll keep you posted.

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