Woohoo - I survived week 2 of running!
Last night, I was already dreading running because I knew it was going to be cold and windy this morning, which had contributed to making Tuesday's run so miserable. But I keep hoping that it's going to get better, so I bundled up and headed out. And I'm happy to report that today was MUCH better than earlier in the week! It seems I was pushing myself too hard on the earlier runs, so I focused on slowing myself down and releasing any tension in my arms and shoulders (which I've learned can contribute to tiring new runners out faster). Despite the cold and wind, I was much more energized during the run and didn't feel nearly as wiped out by the end.
Week 2 was a much bigger struggle than week 1, but maybe the payoff is bigger because I made it through and am committed to continuing. So what did I struggle with, and what did I learn?
- Weather: This can be a big obstacle and is not to be discounted. I don't have the option of running inside on a treadmill, so I had to learn to deal with it. Layers are key, but the main factor for me this week was finding motivation to keep running. Because when it's 20 degrees outside, my nice warm bed is much more inviting than tying my sneakers on and heading outside for a run. I'd like to say I was motivated this week by wanting to run that 18 mile race in October, but I think it was more that my stubborn Capricorn side was taking over, and I just want to be able to say that I've done this. Running will not beat me!
- PE: Nope, I don't mean physical education - I mean "perceived effort." J mentioned to me earlier in the week that I might be struggling because I was putting out too much effort and running too hard on my intervals. I thought I was running pretty slow already, but I found that when I really concentrated on slowing down and relaxing into the run, it made all the difference! I've got lots of time to get my speed up and the key for me right now is learning to love running, not to be good at it. I'm working on checking how far I run during each of my intervals, but I noticed today that overall, my run was shorter than it has been, so my effort was definitely lower.
- My own hang-ups: I'm a total perfectionist, so I want to do things right, immediately. I'm not usually into the process, so it can be difficult for me to jump into something like running - I want to go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight (or at least be able to run more than 90 seconds without getting tired!). So this week has been about settling into doing the work, with my end goal in mind. That means pushing myself, but also pacing myself, so that I'm not inclined to give up before I've even given myself the chance.
- My body: I'm not in top shape - I have bursitis and tendonitis that flares up in my left hip from an old fencing injury; I have a recurring pinched nerve in my neck which has appeared this week; I've got high arches, so my knees have started to bug me a bit; I struggle with migraines regularly. But all of those things are manageable, and I've been working on handling them this week. The increase in migraines is attributable to dehydration with my new workout, so I've been drinking more water all the time (not just before and after running) and have felt great the last few days. I picked up some insoles to support my arches, and my knees already feel better, plus more stretching will help me too. I'm pushing the Advil to keep down the inflammation in my neck, which will sort itself out as it usually does. And now that it's feeling better, I can get back into yoga, which properly stretches my hips and helps with my migraines. I think, over time, that running will actually help all of these things in addition to giving me more energy.
After all of my complaining this week, I do have to say that there have been some great benefits to running that I've seen already. I definitely have more energy - normally, I struggle to get up in the morning even after eight hours of sleep and I feel tired & sluggish during the day. Since I've started running, I snooze my alarm less, have more energy, and am clear-headed when I start my day. My body feels stronger - I don't notice a huge difference, but because each run gets a little bit easier, I know that I'm building up endurance and I can feel it in my muscles. And I feel happier - some of that is the increase in endorphins that I get from running, but it's also because I'm focused on moving my body every day, for a goal other than a vague "losing weight" or "getting in shape." I'm getting my recommended 30 minutes of exercise three days a week (plus yoga) and that's increasing my self-esteem, so I worry less about food except in terms of fueling my body. I think getting outside for 30 minutes every couple of days is also a great mood elevator - it's cold here, but I still live in a beautiful place. I used to love to see the ocean first thing in the morning, despite being more of a night owl, and this gives me the chance to do that. And after all, isn't that why I moved here?
Now I have two days off before ramping it up in week three. I go from my 90 second intervals to two repetitions of the following:
* Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
* Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
* Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
* Walk 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
I'm a little bit nervous about jumping up to the 3 minutes, but I think I can do it!