Sooooooo, truth be told, this is actually my second blog. About 4 or 5 years ago, I started my first blog to catalogue my running journey. In truth, it was more of a running log/diary, but for a while, I was really into it. Though I had a handful of faithful followers, it was 100% for me. I think it helped me be accountable, but in truth, I don’t really need anything but me, myself and I to stay accountable. My picture should be next to Type A in the latest version of the DSM.
At the time, I was a regular exerciser with a little lingering baby weight. I was that couple days a week, 3-miles at a time runner, and running had always been a big frustration for me. I felt like I did it a lot, but that I never made any progress.
Around that time, I made that gripe to my sister who is a former runner and she made a face that I can still picture in my head all the years later. And she said to me, “Well, that means you are either not running far enough or fast enough.” That stuck with me because frankly, it made sense. Why would I be making any progress if I’m doing the same thing over and over again? Beyond being the definition of insanity, it’s also fitness 101. You gotta mix things up and keep the body guessing. Duh, McFly?
The first decision was easy – speed or distance?
I don’t think I can or will ever run particularly fast. I’m barely 5 feet tall and I don’t have a particularly long stride, and frankly, I’ve just never been a good runner. So speed was an easy one to knock off the table. But long distance, endurance running…that seemed like something I could do. Slow and steady wins the race and all that.
So I did some research and I developed my plan. I was going to take myself from running a total of 9-10 miles a week to 15 miles a week. I did that by increasing my distance by 10% per week, which my research told me was the safest way to avoid injury. It also just seemed manageable and it spoke to my methodical personality. So week one was 11 miles, week two 12 miles, week three 13 miles and so on and so forth. I didn’t put any limitations on myself on how I got it done. This was mostly for scheduling reasons since I was trying to squeeze work, motherhood and the rest of my life into this as well. So if I only had time to run 3 times a week, I had to divvy up the miles between those 3 days accordingly to make it happen.
This method really worked for me. I remember it being off and on painful to get to 15 miles a week, but I did it. And then I challenged myself to do 20 miles a week. And somewhere between 15-20 miles, I literally stopped feeling any pain. I became one of those people who could lace up, hit the streets and run through almost any conditions. I went from a person who could barely drag my ass through that last mile to that annoying person who would walk around saying things like, “I only ran 5 miles yesterday.” Only five miles. Ha! Yeah, I was the asshole who actually said stuff like that.
It was weird and it was awesome and though I never felt a true runner’s high, it did become somewhat addictive.
After I started doing 20 miles a week, I challenged myself to run a 10 miler. Once I finished that, it was off to half marathon. Did I also mention that I accomplished all of this in less than 6 months???
By 9 months in, I was averaging between 20-25 miles a week and I was running between 8-13 miles of those miles on a Saturday or Sunday morning long run. So, what do you think happened after I finally ran my half marathon on the 10 month? Yeah, you guessed it. I fizzled out like a defective firework. I literally ran myself into exhaustion.
The turning point was that summer. It was the one-year anniversary of starting both my blog and my running adventure, and I decided to take a break from running for a few weeks. A few weeks turned into a month and a month turned into 5 FREAKING YEARS! That’s how badly I burned myself out.
So, long story long, I’ve finally recovered from my burnout. I’m ready to start again. But I’ve got a whole new perspective on it this time. I’m not striving for half marathon anymore. I’m striving for a little weight loss (okay, maybe a lot of weight loss) and moderation in all things – diet, exercise, work/life balance, etc.
I don’t want to run any races. I don’t need to run 10 miles to feel like I accomplished something. I just want to feel like I’m not riding the couch all the time (‘cause let’s face it, most of my other hobbies are all 100% sedentary) and that I’m staying healthy because I sure ain’t getting any younger.
So here’s to lacing up my running shoes once again and hoping that this time, the habit sticks!