It’s been a good week, and I want to share my successes. That’s right, plural! Not one success, but two!
WHOA! I need a haircut!
I’ll share one of those successes in my next post. This post is about a huge exercise win: I went running for the first time in six months! After competing in 25 running races last year, all for my #40years40races challenge, I was done with running. In fact, the last time I ran was just before Halloween, at my last running race of the year. I don’t love running (and never have), and I’ve been fine doing other forms of exercise for the last six months.
But. There’s always a but. Long before the pandemic, I signed up for a 5K race in early June. The race is at Cedar Point, an amazing amusement park in Ohio, and I signed up because admission to the park is included in the price of the 5K, and going on roller coasters is the perfect way to spend the rest of the day after a 5K. I know this from experience: I did this race last year, and set a 5K personal best – a record that still stands to this day.
This year’s race isn’t happening, for coronavirus reasons. And instead of refunding registration fees, or deferring them to next year, the organizers are turning it into a virtual event, where participants run their race in their own neighborhood, following social distancing protocols, and then submit their time online. I don’t know if I care enough to run a virtual race, except that they’re mailing out t-shirts and finisher medals. And I can’t accept a medal if I didn’t do the race. So… I’m virtually racing a 5K race in about a month.
Whenever I go a significant amount of time without running, I dread the thought of running. I actually begin thinking that I physically won’t be able to do it anymore. It’s silly and unreasonable, but that’s the way my mind works. In fact, I’ve put off preparing for this race for weeks, because I assume I’m going to fall into a depression after I try to run and realize I can’t make it to the end of the street.
My friends Jocelyn and Josh, who live in Ohio, are also signed up for the 5K, and it was Jocelyn who got me to lace up my running shoes, after she went on her first run in a long time. I decided to give it a go a few nights later. I set expectations low: Let’s see if I can go two miles, and it’s okay if I alternate between running and walking.
What happened next was simultaneously miraculous and not at all surprising: I ran, for much longer than I was expecting. It wasn’t surprising because I’m in excellent shape right now. I’m working out every day, and the workouts are moderate or intense about five times a week. And yet, it was miraculous, because my mental state was so shitty: I didn’t think I could do it, and was certain I would fail, and I didn’t.
I left the house thinking two miles would be a huge win. I started running, and I felt good! I didn’t need to alternate between walking and running. At around the 1.5 mile mark, I decided to bump my goal up to three miles. Shortly after that, I decided to add a tenth and go a full 3.1 miles, which is a 5K. As I approached three miles, I thought I could do even more… and decided to shoot for 3.5 miles. And when I got close to accomplishing that, I looked down at my watch and decided to push myself a few minutes longer, so make my run an even 45 minutes.
I set out to run two miles… and ended up running 3.75 miles!
My pace was super slow – averaging 12-minute miles – but who cares? I covered nearly twice as much as I thought I would, including five good-sized hills, and that made me proud.
I was texting with Jocelyn and Josh later that night, and Josh and I decided to start a virtual running club, on Tuesdays, to help get us ready for the race. Jocelyn may join – she didn’t say yes, but she didn’t say no, either. Our virtual running club is not about distance or duration – it’s merely a commitment to run that day, in our own neighborhoods, at our own pace, and then checking in afterwards. The point is accountability – and making a commitment to a buddy, who will call me out if I don’t meet that commitment – is a huge motivator for me.
Who knows? I may call out Josh right here, in this blog, if he doesn’t run on Tuesday. And I’ll call myself out, too, for that matter. Josh is one accountability resource, but so is this blog!
Keep it up, David!
PS – In addition to running on Tuesdays with Josh, Jocelyn has started joining me for Richard Simmons Mondays. Every Monday I do a different Richard workout video, and Jocelyn’s doing the same video in Ohio. Accountability is fun!
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