In the 2nd half of last year, I moved house and got into the excellent routine of going for a 7km walk with a good friend of mine, who lives around the corner and was also trying to conceive as a SMC, around 3 days a week. When I actually started to try to conceive myself, it was harder to keep this up because the drugs made me feel so damn exhausted all the time. I coined the term ‘sleep die’ during this time. That overwhelming fatigue that would have you tearing your hair out if you actually had any energy. I wanted to sleep die. Whatever that meant, I wanted to do it.
Just before the end of the year, my friend suggested we take our walking up a notch and try the Couch to 5km program. Since that involved RUNNING and I don’t run, I just made inappropriate and derogatory comments while nursing my insecurities. I could barely run 500 metres and I didn’t have any particular yearning to learn again about how I couldn’t run. I’ve never run. Even back in high school, when they made you do the twice-yearly fitness tests, which involved a 1.6km run, I walked it. I have always found running excruciatingly difficult. I’m not sure if it’s because I am an asthmatic or because I had pretty radical hip surgery in my early teens, or whether I just don’t have the constitution for it, but any time running has come up as a suggested activity my response has consistently been, “I don’t run”. It’s just not my thing.
After Christmas, I went to stay with my Mum over the New Year period. She lives in a tropical location. Only three months earlier I had visited her and we’d gone bathers shopping together (a truly joyous outing, marked by only infrequent bursts of yelling about cellulite). I will buy bikinis, but will always wear swim shorts, due to the rather horrendous scar on my leg from the aforementioned hip surgery. And the cellulite.
When I went back over New Year, the weight I’d been stashing during the previous months of trying to conceive was exposed under the tropical sunlight. You wear less in hot climates and more fat protrudes. It’s maths. The press stud popping on my swim shorts that I had only bought 3 months earlier certainly sealed the unreasonable deal that my medicated IUIs had beefed me up considerably. I got on the scales and realised I was only 2kgs off being my heaviest weight ever. Urgh.
So I took advantage of that once-a-year earnestness and downloaded the first week of the Couch to 5km (C25K) podcast when I arrived back in Melbourne. I was still unsure whether I would be trying to conceive again and I knew I certainly wasn’t going to if I remained as big as I was. I don’t carry extra weight too badly, but I certainly have a puff going on.
The first session was a 5 minute warm up walk and then 60 seconds of running followed by 60 seconds of walking for 20 mins. This was to be repeated three times a week. For the metric version of the full 9 week C25K program, click here.
I wish I had written a journal at this time, but I am pretty convinced that I thought I would die and this was the worst idea in the world. Since it was only 3 days a week though and they insist on a day of rest in between (and I do like to rest) I made it through Week 1 and Week 2 and just kept going. My friend had started before me, so I was doing it alone, and given how much I was grunting, cursing and straining I was pretty glad to be solo. I did the program out in the elements, so there was plenty of opportunities to be inspired by other runners passing by or, on the bad days, plenty of thoughts of accidentally-on-purpose tripping other runners. Whatever got me through that current block of jogging.
Somewhere in there I got a fancy pair of shoes from a special store where they watch you walk on a treadmill and make judgments about your stride and then select really specific shoes for you, with an ugly colour pattern, based on ‘science’. I’d never bought new runners before. I’ve always had hand-me-downs. They felt gooooood.
And somewhere along the way I began to enjoy it. I noticed I would go into work in a really good mood after a morning run and my energy levels would stay high across the day. I started to look forward to my runs the night before, although to this day I have never woken up at 6am and thought “Goodie! A run!” However, I genuinely felt the benefits of running that had always escaped me prior. On the days that I run, I think I am a more pleasant person to be around. My colleague always checks in the morning whether it’s been a running morning or not – a barometer of what the day might be like working in my vicinity.
Week 5 to 6 I started to slow down and repeat weeks if I hadn’t thought I’d nailed them. Week 7 I ditched the podcasts, because running was no longer in intervals and I hated the stupid music that came with the podcast. However, I hit a rut there and it took me several weeks to break it. I could not run for 25 mins without stopping, if only just for a minute, to walk, which was not what I was supposed to be doing. After talking to a few runners, I just slowed my pace down and suddenly I kissed that dirty hump goodbye. I could run for 28 mins and hit about 3.6kms. Then 4.3km.Then 4.7kms.
The big milestone was cracking 5kms and I finally hit 5kms Friday just gone. It felt ace. I still have to slice my time down to get close to 30 minutes, which is what I should be doing according to the C25K program, but that can come. I never would have dreamed of a day where I would run 5kms. 5kms isn’t a big deal for many people, but it has really been hard work for me and I am giving myself a big tick and a gold star for achievement on this one. A whole 5 kilometres! Me! Running! I rewarded myself on the weekend by finally buying some decent running gear, at risk of me matching all of the other middle class, beige types in my neighbourhood.
I can’t recommend the C25K program enough. It was perfect for me, probably because I have a great relationship with Structure. Weirdly, I actually haven’t lost a lot of weight. Only about 3kgs, but I think my body shape may have changed. I don’t care too much. I’ve found this great activity that is challenging, but enjoyable, and leaves me feeling great afterwards, physically and mentally.
And get this – I have now enrolled to participate in a charity run next month! It’s actually only 4kms, but it’s a different track, with a hill in the middle of it, AND half of my workplace is also participating, so it’s going to be pretty scary.Where will this end?!
So I can now legitimately be all preachy about goal setting and hard work and reaching finish lines. That would be super irritating though, because some days getting out of bed is still kicking a goal in my book.
However, if you ever feel like a run, let me know!