One minute into running, and all I can focus on is the fact that I have four minutes until I can finally walk again. It’s how I start, how I always start, treating each minute as a countdown to the next, unsure how I’m going to make it to each walk session, and lamenting the fact that I only have two minutes of walking until I have to run again.
Oh, Couch to 5K, how I love to hate you.
Five minutes. Funny how an unchanging amount of time can mean so many different things. Five minutes until I have to leave for work, and time moves at warp speed. But five minutes of running? It’s at least a week long. I keep looking at the phone in my hand that’s counting down the moments until I can stop running. Two and a half minutes left. I slug on, trying to keep up with my athlete of a daughter. I vow not to look at my phone again until I’m close to the end. Focusing on a point that feels two and a half minutes away, I keep going, sure that my legs will probably fall off before then. When I reach that point, I look at my phone again.
Two minutes left.
I think my phone is broken. But I keep going. I imagine all those runners I’ve seen while driving my car, the ones who have this look of serenity on their face as if this is their preferred mode of travel. I wonder if I look like that, too. I focus on keeping my face as calm as possible, as if I’m totally feeling zen about this whole running thing. I’m not sure how well it’s working when all I can chant is Kill me now.
The buzzer on my phone dings, and we’re both walking again. There’s a triumph in this moment. We did it! We survived the first five minutes! Now we get a blissful two minutes of walking.
Wait. What? It’s time to run again? How could that have been two minutes?
The next run is only four minutes long, which offers me a little bit of peace. But not much. My legs remind me with each step that I’m not a runner, that sitting is my favorite, that writers don’t run, that I’ll never be as fast as my daughter who I’m struggling to keep up with. Four minutes. Then three. Then two. Finally one. I focus on my breathing. Two steps, one breath in. Two steps, one breath out. I’m sure the whole neighborhood can hear my wheezing. The seconds pass by slowly, but we finally make it to walking once again.
We are halfway done.
Once again, the two minutes of walk time lasts for only a couple seconds before we’re running again. Except…this time, it’s different. My body submits to this whole running thing. In fact, it seems I’m enjoying this. Nothing hurts. I could actually keep going if I wanted to. Five minutes comes and goes, then two minutes of walking, and then the final four minutes.
“Keep going,” I encourage my daughter, even though she was the one who was running like a gazelle just ten minutes earlier. We’re in our final stretch, the last four minutes of running until we can cool down and relax at home. Just four minutes. And I’m suddenly a runner. I can do this. I am doing this. I like running. The last minute begins its countdown and the finish line is in view. Thirty seconds left. Then fifteen. Five. One.
The walk back home is sweet. I feel strong, like I just ran a marathon. Nevermind that it was only a run walk for 2.6 miles. Nevermind that the majority of runners can race circles around me, including my stepson who can run a mile in five minutes. Doesn’t matter. I ran. And I survived.
This week, I was the featured writer over at Writing and Wellness, a blog that shares tips on staying healthy and active, even when a creative lifestyle is mostly sedentary. In an interview with Colleen M. Story, I talked about my running routine, how yoga helps to balance me, what motivates me to eat better, and even a few writing tips, like how to keep a thick skin through criticism. You can check it out HERE.
Do you struggle with exercise, too? Have you found ways to make it fun? How do you fight against the urge to lay around in favor of getting up and moving your behind? 😉