As someone who has run short distances on and off since childhood, it’s natural that running has become a big part of my life again since deciding to change the way I live. I also enjoy swimming, but it doesn’t grip me the same way running does. I LOVE running. It makes me feel free, and I often refer to myself as a ‘little boy who’s been let out in the playground’. Running can also be very emotional (Ask anyone who has ever run a marathon – Yes. There are Tears.) and have lots of ups and downs. I think this is important because it gives your soul a workout too – being healthy is about changing every aspect, not just what you put in your mouth.
Any sport is a discipline, and improves bodily AND mental fitness, something that is very important to me. For anyone on a health journey, find something you enjoy and stick to it. Get really good at it. Set yourself goals. (Write a list!!!!) Make it a habit. I’m very happy to be back running, and don’t ever want it to stop.
The Way It Is
My running progress is coming on brilliantly, but failings in my personality have let me down and left me frustrated. I am notoriously hard on myself and impatient. I have been this way for a long time. I know that anyone looking at me and my ‘jog log’ would say I’m doing just fine, but sometimes you just need to get it out there to admit you can’t have everything yesterday. (I find this very, very hard)
At 22 and BFL, I was a healthy weight and ran 3-4 miles 3 times a week. The last 5k I ran I finished in 22:57 on a flat run in good weather. That is my PB. That has stuck with me forever, because it felt amazing. I felt like a superhero. I am a natural runner, not in build but in posture and stride – the pro’s call it biomechanically correct (this means I use my body efficiently to run) and have a slight under-pronation and a perfect midsole strike. For those of you planning on becoming regular/serious runners, if you don’t know what these things mean, look them up. You’ll thank me for it later- it helps you pick a good pair of shoes.
My problem is now I still think about that time. I need to get to grips with the reality of it and realise things are different now. I’m currently beating myself up over my 5k time and pushing myself far too hard for a time. My distances are coming on beautifully, but I seem to be a lot more patient with that, probably because these distances are new to me and I have no previous markers to go by. The reality is, I’m nearly 8 years older than that time when I ran a 22:57, I’m a smoker, I’m more than three stone heavier and recovering from a knee injury. Not only that, my regular running route is at best undulating, at worst downhill outward and an uphill struggle on the last leg. I currently run a 5k on this route at 32 minutes.
I started back running on the 15th of July and managed just 1.3 miles before I had to walk, and my first full 5k (when I got there) came in at over 34 minutes – it was a bitter pill to swallow. Now, less than 2 months later I’m up at 5-mile stretches, a lot of which is punishingly uphill, and recently I ran downhill to the village (3.75 mi) walked 2 miles with my WW buddy from work, and still managed to run 2 miles of the uphill stretch on the way home.
I’m awarding myself a victory dance (I imagine this won’t be dissimilar to the Happy Wardrobe Dance) at 100 miles total (Since I came back from the knee) and plan on rewarding myself at the 6.22 mile-run mark (10k and happening this week) with a new pair of running shoes that are long overdue. This still doesn’t get me any closer to running my PB though. Pffft.
All or Not At All
Anyone reading this might think I’m either a) delusional, b) obsessed, c) my own worst enemy or d) all of the above. Probably all true. But I’m a person who doesn’t do things by halves, and have always been taught to be the best you can be, and do something properly or not at all. This may be why I’m a Jack of All Trades.
The main reason for my times being slow on my 5k run aside from the ridiculously inconvenient lay of the land is not my fitness level (I do consider myself fit for a 30 year old smoker that’s 3 stone overweight – how many of those do you know that can run 5 miles?) – its the one thing that takes time itself – my weight. The boffins reckon everything else being equal, for every extra lb you carry, that equates to 2 seconds onto every mile you run.
So, a quick calculation reveals that I am currently 45 lbs from an ideal lean running weight, so 45×2= 90 seconds. A minute and a half. That takes my time for a 5k down to roughly 27 minute-odd on my hilly route if I was slim right now (Could hazard a guess at sub-27 on a flat). I can still improve my fitness, stop smoking, and run more, but I may never see that 22:57 again. That makes me sad.
Which is why, in a bid to distract myself from such a lamentable situation, I’ve set myself another all-or-nothing goal. My 30th Birthday is the 2nd of March, and the day before it there is a half marathon nearby. I’m going to run it. I don’t want a time, I want to say I’ve done it. I think I’ll be ready weight and fitness-wise by then, and am happy to skip out the 10k middle-man.
I must be mad.