As I shared shortly after the Dirty Girl Mud Run and approximately fifteen showers, I started following the Couch to 5k program in an effort to get back in the running groove in a smart, sustainable, strategic way (i.e. not in a “Hmm, I wonder how far and fast I can run today?” way).
Going from marathoner to beginner is both exciting and humbling. Humility: that’s sort of my life’s keyword these days.
I’ve run two marathons (Disney and New York: click through for the world’s longest, most emotional race recaps of all time), and yet here I am, proud to be able to string together a few minutes of running at a time.
For the past four weeks, I’ve followed the Couch to 5k plan to a T. I’ve walked when I am supposed to walk, even when that meant passing by a group of bros playing KanJam at the M Street Beach, who took notice of my walk break and started chanting “Don’t give up now!”
I’ve run when I’m supposed to run, and continued to keep my pace right around 8:30/9:00 (solid for a lady who thought she’d always be a 10 minute miler). I’ve resisted the temptation to quit approximately 56 times over the span of each 30 minute workout. I’ve tried to talk myself into quitting, and then talked myself into sticking with it.
Being a beginner is different the second time around. And in many ways it’s more challenging than when I first started running and training with any real purpose seven or eight years ago.
Many of those differences hinge on being a new mother. My hips don’t lie, nor do they move the way they used to move. I have sports bras in three different sizes and yet, on any given day, none of them fit. I often feel a pang of guilt as I head out the door, wondering if I should stay with Nick and Grace rather than being out on the road alone, trying to ignore the KanJammers. The closer I get to home, the more desperate I am to be home. I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept through the night since… maybe, last September? I’m hungry. I can’t find any of my old workout gear. I’m always a bit out of sorts.
But most of the things that feel different this time around hinge on being a regular person who has done what regular people do as seven or eight years lapse: we get older. And the older I get, the more myself I’ve become, for better or worse. For better, I am more confident and self-assured than ever before. I care less who is passing me, or what I’m wearing, or how long it takes me to get where I am going. Mostly because I’m doing my best… just to get where I am going. For worse, well, I somehow managed to both drop and kick my own iPhone during a run last week.
Above all, I am more grateful than ever to be able to run. Running longer and faster each week, especially after months of feeling sort of like an alien in my own body, has been so gratifying. More importantly, I’m learning to make peace with being a perpetual work in progress. I have the deepest appreciation for my body and all that it can do.
I cherish those minutes and miles alone with my thoughts and prayers, especially during a week such as this one, when there is so much going on in our world to be sad, worried and upset about. I am thankful to have an outlet for the stress and anxiety that builds up over the day and follows me home. I am proud to be making time to take care of myself, so I can do a better job taking care of my family.
In life, we get very few chances to begin again. And these days, being a beginner feels just as good as being a marathoner.
Also On Tap for Today:
- Fellow fitness enthusiasts in the Boston area: Check out tonight’s episode of Chronicle (7:30PM, WCVB-TV Channel 5) to learn about BMAX, boxing and bootcamp
- Recipes for a post-run fruit slushie
- TGIAF (the “a” stands for almost, people)
Have you had the chance to start over from the beginning?