I’m Running Again (!)

I’ve waffled on whether to write a post about running, as this isn’t a fitness blog. However, running is one of my loves, and here is my rationale for including it as a topic on an “unschooling, unjobbing” blog: this blog is about simplicity, and simple solutions to life’s big questions. Going with the flow. Loving what you have, enjoying your surroundings, doing what just makes sense instead of striving to live up to someone else’s standards, or getting in over your head.

Running is all those things. With a pair of running shoes (or barefoot, except not in a Canadian winter), you can get in a workout, a therapy session, some stress release no matter where you are. No special equipment required. It’s affordable, it’s simple, and it’s good for you. And really – Neko is already in love with running, and we count it as a large part of our “unschooling phys. ed.” She ran the Calgary Kids Marathon last year and will again this year. It makes me so happy and proud to see her learning a love of running at such an early age, as I know it’s a love that will serve her for the rest of her life.

Anyway, I run. Sometimes. I also go on long breaks from running. I have only been running for about two years. I mean, I did run track a bit in junior high and high school, but never for pleasure. I had tried to get back into it a few times throughout my 20s, but it felt awful. Then a friend told me about the Cool Running Couch to 5K program. I downloaded the iPod app (which is awesome!) and took a whole… I don’t know… five months (?) to complete it. It’s supposed to be eight weeks, I believe. But I finished it, and at the end, I could run 5K without stopping – and it felt awesome!

Since then, I’ve run on a regular basis, most of the time. However, during especially busy times, I take breaks… and getting back to it after a break of a month or more is HARD. This is what I’m doing right now. I hadn’t run since late October, and right after Christmas, when all the craziness of the season was over, I was determined to get back to it. The first run out was horrid. The second was even worse. I felt defeated. However, something very important (and obvious) dawned on me on that second run – this is why I can’t quit! I can’t take so much time off, because coming back hurts! Even running a few kilometers a week, taking an hour or less out of my entire week, would keep me conditioned – and of course, help me in myriad other ways as well.

The past two weeks, I’ve learned about the importance of icing muscles after a hard run, stretching, not pushing myself too hard, running through the pain (not injuries!) to break up the lactic acid, and taking walk breaks as needed. Also, positive self talk. It’s amazing how repeating “You’re strong, you’re fast, you’re doing this, you’ve come so far,” etc, in your head can get you through that last kilometer. But I’m up to 25-27 minutes of running and just over 4 km. By the end of this week I should be up to 30 minutes, and nearly 5 km.

I’ve decided to set monthly goals and rewards for myself all this year. In January, my goal is to run 60 km. My thinking was that if I run 5K, three times a week, that would be 60 km… Now to reach 5K! It’s going to take a lot more runs at 3-4K per run! Still achievable, though. My reward for reaching 60 km is to go out dancing with friends. Yes, it’s something I would do normally, but I haven’t actually gone dancing in months, so at this point it would be a fun reward. And healthy! And cheap.

In general, I like to keep my fitness life simple. I feel like running and yoga plus pushups (and some other strength moves mixed in) is the perfect regimen, at least for me. I really enjoy adding stairs every week or two as well. There is a set of 167 steps in Sunnyside here in Calgary, and ten sets of those is a great workout for the quads and butt! One of the best parts is that Neko and I can go for runs up to 1K together, and do yoga together (I recommend the YogaKids DVDs)!