I’m not much of a runner. Even so, running habits are something that I have always admired in others and I’m acutely aware of the benefits. I’ve always wanted to be able to run 10km so when the Medibank Bridge 2 Brisbane Training Guide landed in my inbox, I got the push I needed.
A little event (haha) that I’ve been working on called Ekka made sticking to the training plan slightly harder than I imagined. While I have had the odd training session, my ability to run the distance required to meet each week’s Sunday long run—let alone the 10km race on September 7th—has been dubious at best. If I wasn’t staying late, I just wanted to get home rather than detour via the gym. I certainly wasn’t running in the dark before or after work.
Tonight I shlepped my gym gear to work yet again, but this time I was walking out the door at 5:00pm and on the treadmill by 5:45pm. Just 3.5km is all I need to do. That’s all the plan says. My first run after signing up I had struggled through 2.5km, stopping twice to catch my breath. Just 3.5km without stopping. I walked through an 800m warm-up on a light incline before my playlist threw out a good running beat and I was off on a steady pace of 10km/hr. This is alright.
I used to avoid running because I smoked, so I didn’t have great cardiovascular fitness. Even when I had periods without smoking and I tried to run, it hurt my lungs, it hurt deep inside my shoulders, and it hurt my knees. It always felt like way too much of an effort to ever be enjoyable. I wanted water, I got stitches, I hated it. But I really wanted to be one of those girls, the ones that ran.
Tonight, at 2.5km I thought just another 800m and I’ve done better than last time, but I was struggling. My saliva was thick, my breathing pattern was hard to maintain and I was starting to feel uncomfortable. I looked for the pause button on the machine, and it didn’t have one. Fuck. I didn’t want to press STOP, I just wanted a mouthful of water and a chance to catch my breath. I’ll have to keep going. I started to panic, my safe-guard was gone and pausing my rhythm meant breaking my pact with myself to not stop. My little blue dot moved around the oval track on the monitor to mark 4 laps. Screw it.
I couldn’t stop, so I kept going. Somewhere between 2.5-3km, just after the 20 minute mark, something changed. My breathing eased, my pattern relaxed and my stride loosened. It was as if I had changed gears, the energy systems my body was using had switched, everything just became easier. Enjoyable. This is it. This is it. That feeling that those runners have, the euphoria; I got it. I felt like I was sailing, gliding gracefully, comparatively effortlessly, and I liked it. This is the feeling that I’ve lacked for all of the years I’ve been attempting to enjoy running and I found it! Shit yes.
When the 3.5km run portion was done, I eased back to walk it off for 500m. Tonight I walked-ran-walked 4.8km without stopping, and it felt so good. I haven’t run that far in a long time and I don’t think ever without stopping. I could feel a blister developing on my right arch, otherwise I would have been tempted to continue. But I’ll save that for my long run on Sunday, and I can’t wait.
If you would like to cheer me on, I’m raising money for beyondblue to help increase awareness and understanding of anxiety and depression.
Image: from Caroline Berg Eriksen’s blog fotballfrue.no, she’s an entrepreneur from Norway who has the most divine life/body/everything.
Are you a runner? What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run without a break? Inspire me!