Am I a Runner Yet?

My husband ran a 10km race on Canada Day, and he ran the whole thing! Normally, people start out with 5 k’s, or do a walk/run on their first race, or train for a year before a 10k. Not my dearest. He powered through in 1:07 (approx). I have no idea if that is good or not, but it doesn’t matter.

I was very proud of him. He is ready for his goal, which is Tough Mudder in August. Yes, I am aware he is crazy.

As I watched all the runners (worrying and waiting for my husband to cross through the finish line), I sat on the picnic mat with two very restless and bored children, and wished I was running. Then I started revolving questions in my head that stayed for a few days afterwards.

Will I ever look like the folks I saw at the race, who are just so much further ahead than me? Will I ever be able to run more than five minutes before having to stop because a lung might explode? Will I ever, ever be able to have the confidence to join a Wednesday or Sunday Run Club without worrying I’ll get left behind as I waddle along, gamely trying to keep up to the Sugoi-clad Will O’ Whisps ahead of me? Will I ever regain that fitness I had as a youngster, who could run so fast and so far…

Am I really, truly a runner yet?

Does anyone else, just starting out, ask themselves this last, yet all-important question?

So many questions… I sound like my son! (Why… Why, Mommy? Why? WHY! Mommy, butbutbut Whhhyyyyyyyyy… Wwwwwwwhhhhyyyyy?)

Sometimes I look at the run/walk intervals I do and I think “No, you’re not a runner yet.” and then other times I say “Damn Skippy I’m a runner!”. Other times I get down because I am not where I would love to be, and then there are the flashes of brilliance when I look down at my (lovely, may I add) calf muscles and go “Yeah, these legs rock, man. They help me MOVE!”

I think it all depends on how I felt after my run that day, how far I went, how much I ran, If I was wearing clothes that were comfy… You get the idea. Zen, Utopia, and Umami all rolled into one perfect, shiny, rainbow-farting Unicorn ideal.

Yesterday I felt like a runner. I finally accomplished 3 minute intervals (that were comfortable), spaced by 1:30 walks. The last interval, I felt so good, I ran right through the last walk before cool down. It was downhill, so I kinda felt like I cheated a bit, but I ran it!

It was only four kilometres by the time I finished my cool down, and when I turned off RunKeeper, I felt like I could go more (I didn’t, because I was soaked. It was raining. #@*%). I hadn’t felt that way in awhile, after my outings. Perhaps it was my various illnesses of the past few weeks that kept me from being super-duper awesome after a workout. Or maybe getting used to the Metformin is kicking my $@#… But I felt much, much better yesterday after my “run”. It was a confidence boost I sorely needed. As you know, my confidence has gone up and down on this journey.

There haven’t been many rainbow-farting Unicorn moments, if you will.

Despite my gains, I have to take stock of where I am in relation to my goal, which is running the Army Run 5k in September.

I don’t know if I will be able to run the full 5 km. I would like to, but I still have trouble running for longer than a few minutes at a time before I see dots in front of my eyes and start shallow breathing like a beached whale. (Note to self: Remember to breathe when cramps-of-painful-death sneak into your calf muscles) So, looking ahead now, I am putting a Plan B in place, in case we get to Fall and I’m still chugging away at my intervals. I want to be able to do the race in less than an hour. That is the major caveat. Oh, and I really don’t want to come in last. That would kinda suck.

A 5:1 interval set for the race would be a good compromise if I am not steady-running by then. Run 5, walk 1, rinse and repeat. Alternatively, if I can do that type of set well before the race, I can perhaps try and pace my kilometres to 7 to 7:30 a kilometre using those intervals (read: GO FASTER). Right now, I am pacing 7:30 to 8 minutes a kilometre (when I run). Not fast enough, if I do some walking. Currently, I can complete 5 kilometres, with walking intervals, in around an hour.

It all sounds so freakin’ technical as I write this. It sounds insanely complicated, and I worry that I am making it more than it should be. Just RUN, dammit, and the rest will fall into place, right? Think like a runner, be a runner? Fake it ’til you make it? Feel the road, be the road, love the road… Riiiight. Let me break into Kumbaya now.

I am reading as much as I can on how to properly do HIIT, and have come to know the term FARTLEK (go on, say it without giggling). I am trying to adjust my stride to a mid-step similar to minimalist runners to protect my legs from injury. I am refueling and hydrating as best I can. And then, as I read and try and apply the strange wording and ideas, I get doubtful and ask myself “Do I even rate enough to be throwing around ‘runner terminology’ like this?”

I am my own worst enemy. So I have to go back to muttering my mantra of “Focus on the Feeling” at inappropriate moments, hoping no one will think I am crazy.

Err.. Yeah… I also need to find a Rainbow-Farting Unicorn poster for my work cubby. Seriously! Hook a girl up, folks.


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