The World of Pain, as published in The Perth Courier on Aug. 4/09.
Wobbling down the road to ruin
I would like to thank all townsfolk who have kindly averted their eyes rather than pointing and laughing as I wobble along side streets in my learn-to-run quest. Shouts of encouragement are fine, assuming I can hear them over my gasping breath of course.
A couple of columns ago I mentioned my friend Heather, who lives in Calgary, and I have committed to a beginner running program in an effort to rescue ourselves from certain wrack and ruin. Since we are thousands of kilometres apart, we report in electronically and record our progress. I have also convinced my best bud in town to join me in this quest, so most times I have a running partner.
Generally, it’s going well. Now. Sort of.
The very first run was exhilarating. The fact that I did it at all and didn’t collapse in a breathless heap was a thrill for me. Given that it was six sets of running for one minute and walking for two you might not think much of it, but since I typically recoil from running anywhere at anytime unless being chased by armed aliens or trying to capture small runaway children, it was something.
Then, though, things got interesting. I discovered something. Actually, I discovered many things, called muscles and other connective tissues, that didn’t appreciate being roused from their long hibernation. At first it was thigh and caboose muscles, which was not really unexpected and actually made me feel as if I were accomplishing something.
Then other parts of my legs started to complain. Loudly. In a screamy sorta way that required ice packs and elevation. This happened for the next several outings. I’d get everyone feeling better and then I’d set out on my next run and make them cry all over again.
As I continued to the next level (10 sets of one minute running and one minute walking), I started to feel a difference. The World of Pain eased a bit. Stretching and icing and resting were helping. My Handy Dandy FancyPants Rocket Shoes™ were obviously doing their job!
Then along came Small Angry Muscle. It was one of the spots that had flared up with all the rest early on, but as everyone else settled down to enjoy the ride, SAM persisted.
In fact, SAM is persisting right now.
Ice helped a bit. Elevating helped a bit. Resting helped a bit. Just when I thought maybe I had SAM licked because after a particular run it barely said “boo!” I learned it was merely sleeping on it. I awoke lame.
Now, many of you might say “Get ye to a doctor!” or “Obviously you are not born to run” or even “Suck it up, buttercup.”
Heather’s hubbie is something of a running guru and said informs me SAM happens to lots of beginners and often makes them think they are not built for running. He provided some exercises for me to try and suggested I work through it, that SAM can be trained.
I’ll let you know how it turns out because I know you’re all on the edge of your seats about this.
So, as I forge ahead with level three (seven sets of running for two minutes and walking for one) I’m armed with the knowledge that, yes, I just might be able to do this. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, but SAM was making me utter some nasty words when out of earshot of children.
Speaking of children, learning to run reminds me a little of pregnancy. When you first tell a runner you have joined the cult you are usually showered with congratulations. As you progress and that initial elation gives way to the World of Pain, you get the knowing smile. “Oh, yes,” these experienced and sage runners say. “It’s really hard at first, but it will get better.”
I’m sure I heard those very same words about pregnancy and childbirth. There are lots of things people conveniently forget to mention, and mothers “forgetting” the magnitude of the pain of labour is why siblings are born on this planet.
Children are worth the pain; hopefully running will be, too!