When you open your big mouth and reveal things like Grand Plans to Stay Healthy in the local newspaper, people are going to remember it. I get asked, “How’s the running going?” a lot. Since I began the long, slow climb toward being “a runner” with my virtual running buddy and my non-virtual running buddy in July, I’ve been able to say it is going well. I ran my first 5K (not a race – just a run) in November and I was routinely running 30 minutes non-stop three times a week up until December.
I’m not afraid to say I found this achievement to be quite surprising since until July I only ran when required to flee swarms of killer bees and never for longer than a minute and a half before collapsing into a heap of breathless misery. That doesn’t get you far from danger. To be able to go from one minute to 30 minutes astonished me. I was in a running groove – it had become a routine that I liked.
Then came December. December is generally a routine killer and mine was obliterated. Between a ramped up work schedule and the general craziness of the season, I only ran once in December. My biggest achievement for that month was to promise myself not to feel guilty about it because, well, something had to give.
So here we are in January and as of writing this missive I have run a grand total of – wait for it – twice. As pitiful as that is, I have managed to extract two positives out of it. First, I’m pleased to report that when I do run in winter, I’ve got good gear for it so it hasn’t been the nightmare I thought it could be. Secondly, even after a month’s break, I was still able to do 20 minutes without stopping.
The not-so-positives? It’s a heck of a lot harder. Some of the painful bits have come back. Even though running in snow and slush makes for a darned good workout it, well, it is running in snow and slush and my legs definitely recognize that pull.
Another interesting feature of this running gig is the role-model aspect. When you write about running in the newspaper, you get a range of comments – everything from “Are you doing the [insert upcoming race here] this year?” to “Omigod. I don’t know how you do it. I could never do that.”
It’s kind of cool because I never thought I could do it either, but I did. And I will keep doing it, it’s just hard to climb back up on that wagon after falling off – especially in the winter. I’m also in the, um, special position of being a role model to people who think running in the winter is insane. When they see me (rarely) doing it they clap and cheer and organize parades. When they hear I’m having trouble doing it, it is gratifying because it feeds into all of our hibernation instincts and makes it okay to not run.
It’s nice to be all things to all people. Er, whatever.
And then there’s the issue of my notorious scale. Oh, scale, how I loathe thee. As I’ve mentioned before, it took me five months to lose nine pounds through running, which I attribute in part to the muscle I built up and the fact I didn’t work as hard on the better-eating part as I could have. Christmas pretty much obliterated that lead – I gained back six pounds, which I attribute to baked goods and inaction. Over the last few weeks the needle on that hideous scale has jumped around a lot, leaving me uncertain as to where I truly stand. Let’s just say I haven’t recovered my lead, and I have a sinking feeling all that lovely muscle may be shrivelling up. At least that’s what my pants are telling me.
I’m discovering one of those sad truths about getting older – that it’s muuuuch harder to lose weight now. I expect it won’t get any easier unless I go on a diet of celery and water, which I figure would come with different complications.
So…I’d better get running.
Published in The Perth Courier on Jan. 26/10.