Thursday, December 9, 2010

The First Run(s) - Shane

So the decision was made. I was going to attempt to see if I could work myself up to two miles. It seemed impossible! But so many people run marathons, surely I could do 2 miles, right?

To be honest, I don't really remember which run was first exactly, or even the rough date it happened. I just remember my goal: to run from my work (downtown Springfield, IL) to my mother-in-law's business about 2.5 miles away.  I would walk the first 1/2 mile to warm up, then run as far as I could.

I had no plan really, knew nothing about technique, gear, shoes, nothing!  Just run as far as I could.  I'm not sure if I was smoking when I first started this challenge.  I had been quitting and starting, quitting and starting for months, sometimes for a week or two, sometimes longer. I know part of the time I smoked in the early phases.

I think the first few times I attempted to run I made it no more than a 1/4 mile at most. It was amazing how fast I got out of breath, and how my feet would ache after just a few minutes. It was miserable!!!  The distance was 2.3 miles from work to destination. Considering I'd walk the first half mile, I was really attempting about 1.8 miles. The first few runs, I managed about half a mile roughly. I would take a quick break (stoplight) and then try to do some more. Sometimes I managed another half mile before my mind and body said OK, that's ALL I CAN TAKE!!! Then I would walk until I recovered. If I had anything left in the tank, I'd try to get a little bit more in before arriving at my destination.

The time of year was spring, and some days it would be in the upper 70's.  I'd arrive hot, out of breath, covered in sweat, my face red from the effort. My mother-in-law would look at me like I was a little crazy, running and walking all that way. I would wear my street clothes: jeans, a t-shirt, and my regular tennis shoes. Thankfully I don't have to be in close contact with anyone at work so it didn't really matter that all I could do was sponge off before heading back to work.

Those first few weeks, it was just a test of my own determination. To even start jogging on my route took some will power, knowing the level of discomfort I would be experiencing.  At some point I realized, I was accomplishing nearly a mile non-stop. In those early days I used google maps and the car odometer to try to guess my distances. For some reason I believed the distance to be about three miles. Now I knew I could make it to a certain cross street without stopping. A few days later I made it a little farther. One day I would make a big gain, then spend a few days trying to reproduce that gain. It would be frustrating because after the big gain it would often seem just as difficult to make it that far again. It was!

I now know aerobic fitness and distance endurance comes in waves, and this is exactly how we train for long distance. You slowly increase the distance for a couple weeks, then a short week, then small increases again... This is how you train for a marathon as well.

I believe it was about the third week when it happened, I made it past any previous point and still had something left in the tank, I was close, less than half a mile away. I kept at it, running shorter on breath and my legs on fire, but I wasn't giving up, and voila! I made it. I had probably run close to two miles. I was so proud of myself! I told myself, if I can do it once, I can do it again!

I had managed to reach my goal in under a month. Not bad. I was pretty proud of myself, for having set a goal, fought my way through and accomplished it. This is what it's all about!!!

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