Friday, June 10, 2016

I Am A Runner

I had never run more than about a half of a block until Ron and I began dating 4 years ago.   We met again at a 5K, but I was walking it with a bunch of friends, as I'd done many times before.  
I'd always wanted to run, but never even knew how to begin.  My attempts were mainly limited to a short sprint when I was out taking a walk.  Knowing how incredibly winded I would become after one of those short sprints, I figured that there was no way I could ever learn to actually run.  Much less be called a "runner".

I began accompanying Ron on his runs, which he did regularly each week, and started entertaining the idea that perhaps I should give it a try again.  The group that he ran with had gotten to know each other through a "Learn To Run" program and he assured me that many of them were very inexperienced when they began. Jana had used a "Couch to 5K" app on her phone, so I decided to give that a try.

I downloaded the "C25K" app and began using it.  It is an 8 week program that uses a mix of walking and running, gradually building up you strength and stamina.  The first time I used it, I didn't want anyone else to run with me because I thought that I would never make it through a 60 second interval of running.  But, by the end of the week (you use it 3 times/week), I could run for 60 seconds and moved on to the next week.  Each week was like that--I began thinking I couldn't do it, but in the end I was able to run.   There were a couple of weeks that I decided to repeat to build up my stamina more, but that's the beauty of the app--there is no set timeline that you HAVE to meet.  By the first of October 2012,  I was ready to try out my new skills.  Along with my friend, Danette, who was using the program as well, I ran my first 5K---without stopping!!
I've had a couple of injuries along the way that have caused me to stop for while, but nothing too serious.  And believe it or not, I found myself missing running.

Over this last year, both Ron and I have let our running slide and even though we completed two half marathons this winter, we were way out of the habit and playing with fire (injuries are far more likely to happen when you are not training properly).  We've wanted to get "back in the habit" of regular running, but once you get out of the habit, it is SOOO hard to get back in it.  I have been very consistent in my Camp Gladiator attendance for a year now, but that made me reluctant to get back out there in the evenings to run. (This is a CG buddy, Judy and me early one morning when we were accidentally twinning).
A few weeks ago, we re-committed ourselves to running again.  It's a hot time of year to begin, but there really is never a perfect time, so  . . .   Last night, we joined several hundred other runners and walkers in our area for the second Summer Fun Run of the season.
Our local running group, the Red River Road Runners, holds a Summer Fun Run series each summer that consists of 8 races that are located at different city parks throughout Shreveport.  Last night's run was at Ford Park, an old park situated on the banks of Cross Lake.  When I was a little girl, this park had a small zoo that we visited from time to time. The zoo is gone now, but it is a beautiful place to walk or run.
Just so you know, running a 5K is still difficult for me.  It is rare that I don't stop and walk for a bit to catch my breath during a race.  During long-distance races, I generally use a walk/run method. I   Camp Gladiator has definitely increased my endurance, and regular training should help with my speed a bit, but realistically, I will probably never be especially fast.  Before I began running, I was so intimidated by runners.  I didn't think I could ever do it, and was embarrassed by my lack of speed and breathlessness. But, I found the running community in our area to be one of the most supportive groups of people I have every met!
They come from all walks of life and probably have little else in common in many cases.  But, even the elite runners I've met have been so amazingly supportive of all levels of experience and eager to help newbies learn the sport.  I've struggled with the label of being a runner---after all, I tend to walk a good bit during some of my faces.  But, I have learned that whether you run a 7 minute mile, an 11 1/2 minute mile (which is where I am) or you do a combination of walk/running for a 14 minute mile, you are still a Runner.   I am learning that no one cares which you do---and that there is no need to apologize for my level of fitness, or to explain it away as if it is less than someone else's level.
Basically your speed, gait patterns, mile splits, and ability level are not what makes someone a Runner. Their  heart, passion, and spirit do. 
By the way, the coveted prizes you get at the end of the Fun Runs?   
Yep, a Freeze Pop!  And you are SOOOO glad to have it!

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