Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Couch Potato to Half Marathon Runner...and Back


I ran a half marathon three months ago. I think it is one of the biggest achievements in my life for several reasons. First of all, I am a lazy person. I would love to be one of those people who get up in the morning full of energy and curiousness about what the day has in store for them. I often dream about being able to describe myself as an adventurous go getter with a broad range of interests and hobbies who loves to learn new things, languages and activities such as mountain climbing, piloting, scuba diving, fashion designing and new continents and/or planets discovering. The truth of the matter is that I prefer sitting on a couch, flipping through gossip magazines, catching up on social network and sipping morning or evening beverage with a cat curled up by my feet. Now this is also not what has been happening since my son was born 2 years ago, but if you ask me on a Sunday morning what is it that I would love to do to make that Sunday a perfect day, my response would be to stay in bed with breakfast, coffee and a good book instead of let's rent a wetsuit and go learn how to surf.

I am a fan of sports and physical exercise. I admire what human body can do when all the muscles are trained the way they were intended. I would love to be in such shape that I could easily escape a burning building, active volcano or even just my screaming toddler. To be perfectly honest, I am not in a terrible shape. I like to work out, it's just that first I need to put those running sneakers on, or to make it to that gym, or to pop that Billy Blanks video in the DVD player (yes, I work out to Billy Blanks and he kicks my butt every time) and most of the time it is just easier to plop on that couch.

But you see - I managed to finish the half marathon. The first step was to acknowledge that I have a problem - hi, my name is Andrea and I am a couchoholic. The second step was to sign up for a half marathon and tell the whole world about it (that's where that social network comes in so handy), so it would be totally embarrassing if I bailed out. Third step was to find a training program that would make me half marathon ready in 8 weeks. I will admit that this was a little bit too ambitious and I would not recommend following in my foot steps, especially if you want to avoid unnecessary injuries. Once I had all of that in place and my husband gifted me with cordless earphones, armband for my iPhone and new running shoes, I was ready to go. I was surprised at the determination I found in myself in the process. I had to run 4 days a week and it was not always easy to find the time with the husband who was rarely at home and the kid that was home almost all the time.

Laziness was only half of the problem, though. I grew up believing I was a complete klutz (probably for a reason). I am a sister to a woman who is six years older, has four kids and could be on the cover of Sports Illustrated for both her incredibly fit body and her physical abilities (if you think you are hearing jealousy in my voice, you are damn right). It was not easy growing up next to a person for whom every sport came naturally. She did her best to make fun of me at all times, too, which didn't help much. I never lacked the adventurous spirit - it's just that the consequences of it often spoke very loudly in forms of bruises, cuts and nose bleeds. I remember climbing a rock once and then hopping on a tree that grew right next to it and then deciding that I will not climb back on that rock (which was the only easy and logical way to go), but jump off the tree. Looking down at the ground I felt it was too high up. So I came to the conclusion I would have to hang on the branch I stood on for my feet to get closer to the ground. Once I was clinging to the branch, it became clear that the ground was still too far away and that I was not Lara Croft and thus could not lift myself back up. So yes, these kind of (crashing) experiences did not add much to my already tortured self confidence.

I am finally old enough to be comfortable in my own skin, klutzy or not. I came to realize there are sports in which I am actually pretty good. I am a decent skier, swimmer, dancer and hiker. I can play volleyball and ping pong and I can indoor climb and roller skate. I can chase after my son and catch him before he runs under the car or off the cliff. I am pretty happy with all that. So the problem that remains is...that in the last 7 weeks I haven't gone for a run once. I have good excuses that include international travel and extreme weather. But there was also that couch.

I made the move and signed up for another half marathon. I went for my first run the day before yesterday. Yesterday I could barely walk because of sore muscles (yes, you can finish a half marathon and get so out of shape in 7 weeks that you barely survive 4.5 mile run). Right now my son is in daycare, which means that I technically have opportunity to get out and train. But I just really felt like writing this post, which means that the training opportunity is now out of the window. I think I might have just enough time for a cup of coffee before I have to go pick up the kid.

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