Monday, 19 March 2012

This week, I have done the unimaginable

Well, unimaginable for me anyway.

I went for a run. Not just once, but three whole times.

You may be asking: Why is this so shocking? Thousands and thousands of people run, what makes it so special that you do?

I'm the kind of person who has avoided exercise pretty much all my life. At school I got teased and bullied in every P.E. lesson, partly because I wasn't very good at any of the stuff we did, but mainly because I didn't have the right expensive trainers or something petty like this. I did sports day once at primary school, and never at high school - I made any excuse possible to get out of it to stop the entire school having the opportunity to laugh at me. I made excuses to get out of most P.E. lessons too, and if I couldn't get out of it then I just hid in a corner with my friends.

Since I've left school the habit has stuck. I enjoy walking, so I do quite a bit of that, but now my fitness level as dropped so low that even walking uphill becomes difficult. I like swimming too, except I'm so awful at it that I don't really get much exercise benefit from it, and I'll only go to a pool if it's pretty empty and there aren't any dedicated people swimming lengths and making me feel ashamed of myself for lacking such a basic skill as swimming.

Since I've been living in Falmouth I've seen loads of people running, so I realised it must be "the done thing" and that got the idea in my head that it's something that I could do. It's free (unlike a gym, the other exercise activity that everyone does), I can go whenever I want, and I can go places where I can avoid other people (again, unlike a gym, where I would be surrounded by super fit people who can exercise for hours without the vaguest notion of sweating).

In November, I bought some running shoes. I was feeling all motivated and decided to go for a run that evening when I got home... except I put the shoes in my wardrobe and there they stayed until now. I found the NHS Couch to 5k podcasts and decided that this would be an excellent way for me to start running, so I downloaded them all... then didn't open the files until last week.

I kept putting off going due to fear of any possible person seeing me, regardless of whether I know them or whether I'll never see them again in my life, and the fear of the embarrassment it would cause me when they saw my massively unfit, sweaty and flabby body puffing and panting as it hurled itself along the road. At the same time, I was becoming more and more unhappy with my body and all its wibbly bits that don't let me look nice in clothes I want to wear.

Finally, I decided that I needed to just man up and get over it and go for a run. So, last Monday, I dusted off my running shoes, put on some clothes vaguely designed for exercising in, and left the house to go for my first run of the three I needed to do that week.

Here's how last week's runs went:

Run number 1, week 1: Monday
I am so unfit. I feel exhausted like I never have in my life. I only ran for 8 minutes in total, with a 5 minute walk at the beginning, a 5 minute walk at the end, and 90 seconds of walking in between each 60 second run, but by about half way through I had a really painful stitch in one side, I was sweating buckets, and I was struggling to catch my breath. Making it to the end of the run was very difficult, but I managed it. Go me! I was quite wheezy when I got home though, and I was so worn out. Only 2 more to do this week, I hope it gets easier...

Run number 2, week 1: Wednesday
Today's run felt a lot easier. I'm not sure whether that was because I didn't push myself so hard, because I knew what distance I had to go before I finished the run, or because I'm actually getting fitter... hopefully it's less of the first one and more of the last two! Fingers crossed the next one is this easy... 

Run number 3, week 1: Friday
Well, the last run lied to me, it went back to being difficult again today. It wasn't at the same level of "ohmygodI'mgoingtodie" as Monday's run was, but it was still pretty hard and I was really struggling towards the end. Not sure I'll be able to manage the more difficult runs next week.

I'm supposed to be starting the next level of runs tonight, and I'm really not sure I'm going to be able to manage it :(. I'm hoping this will eventually improve my fitness, so I'm trying to keep faith, and I'm really hoping the wheezy feeling I get at the end of each run doesn't turn out to be asthma or something nasty.
I did a St John duty yesterday at a half marathon through Falmouth and a couple of surrounding towns, and it was slightly demoralising looking at some of the people doing the run who were far from skinny but could still run a lot further than I could. I'd like to think that one day I could run a half marathon too, but at the moment running for any longer than 60 seconds feels like an impossible dream.

I'll do another update next week of how things are going and whether I think I'm getting any fitter. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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