Working Through the Pain
It sounds like a song title, doesn't it?
But it's what you have to do if you're going to get fit.
I'm not an exercise expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I come from a family of runners (try to be the fat one there - ain't easy!). My Hero is a serious biker (road bikes, not Harleys!), and my sons are runners and one lifts weights (the other runs Xcountry and prefers his scrawny build).
First, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: wear good shoes, be safe, don't run outside when it's Hades-hot, don't dehydrate yourself, don't run sick or injured or with something chronic. You're working towards health and fitness, not destruction and injury. Got that?
When I ran to lose weight ten years ago, it was all I could do to huff and puff my way from one mailbox post to the next. Then I took myself to a laptrack and counted light posts. I developed some headgames and mindtricks and I'm sharing them with you today, because I want to hear more of us trying out the Couch to 5k Challenge.
I have a Challenge of my own to offer, so keep reading:
1. The hardest part is starting. You're walking, you're comfortable - no sweat. Time to pick it up -- come on, shuffle those feet a little. Pick up the pace! You don't have to go fast... just fast er!
2. Forget about what you look like. Yes,you're bouncing and your breathing is heavy. You're starting to sweat. Your thighs are chafing together and you think you're making a spectacle of yourself. First of all, the only thing anyone else on the track is thinking is "Maybe I should be doing what she's doing." or "Good for her. Maybe I should be doing what she's doing." or "Dang! I ought to be doing what she's doing." Got it? Everybody should be doing what you're doing. But YOU Are Doing It.
3. Get out of your own head. You read, you write... you can do this: Visualize yourself stepping outside of your body and running alongside yourself. This "ghost" can be whatever you want her to be: is she Skinny You? Healthy, Fit You? Or is she Coach You, cheering you on with encouragements? Is she wearing that cute pair of shorts at the bottom of the past-sized clothes in your closet? Doesn't she look good? How long will it take before you are her? Think on this when you begin to give up.
4. Count. Develop a rhythm. Get a song with a good beat to it going between your ears. Time your footfalls to the beat, then your breathing to your footfalls. Two steps to one exhale is a good pace. One of our personal challenges for the week is to develop a playlist. Other people can run wearing their Ipod, but not me. It has to be inside my head. "I Am Woman" is a personal fave... "On The Edge of Glory," "Beat It," "I Will Survive," -- looks like I have a running theme (HA! Get it? ...a running theme? I kill me... ). What songs can you think of? Help us out in the comments section below and post some favorites.
5. Fake it 'til you make it. You need to slow down... that's okay. Just don't stop all the way. Slow it down, pretend for a while, until you've got your breathing back. Keep moving... fake the run. Once you're breathing okay, pick up those feet and go again. You do have to push yourself if you want to see improvement. You're building stamina and muscle and that ain't easy. Whine about it all you want, but keep going. (I whine and cuss and once I even cried like a brat on an uphill bike ride with my Hero. Bless him, he just kept his mouth shut and kept on pedaling, because he knows that's how I deal with hard physical challenges. But I made it.)
6. Give yourself permission to quit. Yep, give yourself permission. Sure, you can stop... just know you won't make any progress if you give up completely. Who will you be cheating anyway? Not me, not your teammates... but yourself. Go ahead... not all days are good days. You might need to drink more water and psych yourself up more for the next time. Just make sure there is a next time.
7. Even so, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. Now, that's just an expression, but it means Finish Strong. Don't give up until you step on your finish line. You made it! You reached the goal! Who's a fat lady now, huh? Do your victory dance -- trash talk. Feel the power! Who's singing now, huh? You ARE!
BooYah! Those are your endorphins giving you a cheer.
8. Know you're going to hurt. If you take pain relievers, get them ready. Ben Gay? LOTS of runners use it - you can smell them a mile away. This is when water is your best friend: in a nice warm bath, or a bucket with epsom salts to soak your feet. Oh, and remember all that water you drink and un- drink? It helps your blood move to aid all those joints and muscles when you're moving and recuperating -- aren't you the smart one? Stretch, relax... and plan your next run. You can tell the difference between good pain and bad pain -- good pain will always be there. Welcome the good pain like a friend - get used to it. It shows you worked for that stamina, that hill, those carved thighs you're gonna rock in your shorts....
You might want to give yourself a day of rest between runs if you're a beginner or you're weak from illness - walk on that day and take it easy. Plan your next run. It's all a head game - visualize yourself stronger, leaner, more fit and healthy.
Now, get thee to http://c25k.com/ AND to http://http://www.active.com/ . At active.com, find a future 5k to work towards in your area. Keep your eyes open - now that fall's around the corner, all kinds of fundraising 5k's and 10k's pop up. Enter one! There's nothing more fun than the camaraderie of walking and running with friends and neighbors. And nothing feels better than crossing that finish line and wearing that shirt for the rest of the day. You achieved greatness! Hoo- Rah!
When you have that shirt, we want to see pictures! Post yourself on the RBW Facebook page, or wherever... Be a show off! You earned it!
And get ready for the next 5k - they're addictive!
Special Request from me: Tonight is my 16 year old's Time Trials to make varsity Cross Country Team. Good thoughts and positive energy and prayers requested-- he has worked so hard all summer, and he's got a real shot, but our team is full of competitive runners working for college scholarships, so he has his work cut out for him tonight. Thank you all in advance!
Song favorites? Post them in the comments below!