Friday, September 16, 2005

Grandma Moses Meets Flo Jo

Last night I "ran" 3.58 miles on the elliptical trainer. It took me 35 minutes to do it. Maybe Fran and Lisse aren't crazy when they keep suggesting that I train with them, after all. It would be so cool to be able to say that I've run a marathon, but then, I keep thinking back to high school track when the 3 mile training run would kick my sorry suburban butt three days a week. Of course, that was also before my asthma was diagnosed and treated, so I was sucking wind from the start. In fact, I have to say that I am just amazed that no one-- not the coach, not my physician, not any of the team members or their parents-- recognized the wheezing, gasping distress as a sign of asthma. Instead, the coach kept setting me additional conditioning exercises, which never helped. I finished the season and quit, devoting the time and energy to ballet classes, where I was vainly trying to improve enough to go professional. A couple of years later, I injured my knee very badly and that was the end of all that.

I kind of miss the strength and flexibility that I had when I danced. I've never been athletic. I don't particularly like sports and have a nearly rabid hatred of professional sports of all kinds (They seem to me to showcase the worst parts of our society, including the screwed up priorities regarding money and power). But I do like to play games, so I'm not philosophically opposed to something like an intramural league. But then again, I'm not and never have been athletic. I actually don't know how to play many sports and it seems like now I'm too old to learn.

And then I think to myself: Self, you are being ridiculous. You are never too old to learn something new. You are never too old to make changes and grow. And if there was ever a time to do exactly that, this is the time.

So I'm going to give running another chance. It's free and you don't need any special equipment to do it. We'll see how my knee holds up. So far, it's been fine and I hope that a careful regimen of stretching and gradual buildup will keep it that way. And next time Fran or Lisse suggests training with them,I might even get the guts to say yes.


At 1:46 AM , Blogger pacatrue said...

Running. Yeah, so a few years back I was probably in worse shape than you currently when I decided I needed a new cool athletic goal, and I decided that goal would be to run a marathon. I bought a book called The Non-Runner's Guide To Running a Marathon. I recommend it. It's a book that is geared to people like me who literally could barely run 5 minutes straight. In fact, that's the first step in the "pre-program". Run 5 minutes walk 5 minutes, repeat, until half an hour is up. Then each week you keep upping it. And, well, with enough willpower, it works. I finished the Nashville Marathon in April of 2002.

You don't of course actually have to run a marathon. I just like big goals. As you say, running is cheap, but there is one thing that really is important - running shoes. If you are going to log the miles required to succeed at this, you need to put out the 100 bucks for real running shoes. It's important. As far as the knee goes, a couple things. My knee started to have troubles later in the training program. If your knee acts up, don't give up the training program. For instance, when my knee was hurting, I rode the stationary bike for the hour that day. It's not exactly the same muscle movement, but it keeps the heart working, which eventually becomes the most important part in succeeding here. Also, don't always run on the same track or in the same direction on the track. A slight tilt in a sidewalk repeated over and over for weeks will mess up your hip/knee. I'd also recommend a hat to keep your head cool. This little hat I bought on a whim right before the marathon was the difference between me finishing and not on that day. Also, know that the marathon goal for this book is just to finish, not to set any sort of time. I mostly ran - with interspersed walking - for the first 20 miles, and then had to walk out the last 6 because my leg muscles just gave up. Except of course the last little strip to the finish line. You gotta jog through it. Took 5 hours, but I've got the picture of me crossing.

There are other weird things to know about like - ahem - runner's nipple, but you won't have to learn about that at least until you pass the 10 mile point.

Good luck if you decide to do it. It takes willpower and lots and lots of time, more than anything else. An entire afternoon running in circles at a park during the last couple months of prepping.

At 8:25 PM , Blogger katze said...

Thanks for the information. I don't know if I'm actually, really ready for the kind of commitment this would take, but I like the idea of it. I need a tangible and acheivable goal in my life right now. The fact that the two girls in my class did this and they were no different than I was, physically or lifestyle-wise, makes me feel like it's possible in a way I didn't think it was before. We'll see...


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