This month I thought I would share a bit of my own personal story. In the spring of 2014, I decided to get out and walk more. Not just a strolly, enjoying the scenery walk, but a fitness, cardio, faster than normal paced walk. Reason one being that I needed to do something to be more healthy and get moving, as there is no substitute for movement, and I wasn't happy with myself at that time. Reason two being that I wanted to take time for ME and do something that made me feel good and see how I could challenge myself. So, with some good new running shoes on my feet, I set out to get some miles in. Now, let me tell you one thing: I am NOT a runner. I have never thought I would be 'good' at it, and for those of you that know me, I certainly don't have a 'runners body', so I set out to get some walking in.
I like to go outside and get my miles in after work in the evenings. For me, this is the best time, or at least the time that I feel most comfortable going out and breaking a sweat. It's nice to come home, change clothes, go to the park and pound the pavement. So, on the nights during the week that I was home at a decent time, I would go to the park and get a good walk in. At that time, I started with just one mile, maybe one and a half miles. I had promised myself that I would do at least 30 minutes of walking and keeping my heart rate up. Great!! I accomplished quite a bit in just the first few weeks! My husband would often go to the park with me and run. He would get in 2 to 3 miles to my one, maybe one and a half. At first, this frustrated me and I tried to go faster, because I have a competitive part of me that just has to do something like that. That's when things started happening. My right knee liked to tighten up and make it difficult to walk for a couple of days after I got in a mile or so, and my feet were tired and a hurt a bit, and I felt like a really old person when I got out of bed in the mornings. All of this kind of sucked, but, in moving more through the days, I eventually got things stretched out, warmed up and got some blood flow so I was moving better.
Back to the miles!! After maybe a month or two of continuing to walk, I was feeling pretty good and getting used to going out 2, 3, sometimes 4 times a week and getting in my miles. Enter my own competitiveness. I decided that I should challenge myself even more, and try to run. Yep. Try to run. For some reason I thought this would be a good idea. Now, when I say 'run', it's more like a waddle, but it's faster than a walk, and I felt as though it was a more of a challenge to me. Not only a cardio challenge but a mental challenge. 'Can I run from this light post to that light post? Sure, why not?!' When I would do 1.5 miles, I would try to do two or three 'run spurts' (some folks call these intervals-call it what you will). Not much, right? Well, my body told me another story. In addition to the problems mentioned before, I had some sharp pains in my feet at times. It would be right when I stepped down, usually with my left foot, and shoot up my calf a bit. It was very sharp pain that took my breath away and made me walk differently. This is a problem. My body was saying to me 'what the hell are you doing and can you please pay attention to this??' I mustered up enough courage to go to Adam with this (I knew I would be in 'trouble'), and ask him what he thought it might be, knowing full well I wasn't doing myself any favors by trying to run at the time. Adam poked around on my foot and we talked about what I had been doing. Just as I suspected, I was doing too much too fast. My body was not a fan of it, and was taking a beating from what I was doing. When the phrase 'stress fracture' is mentioned, and could have been a real possibility for someone like me, it is a little intimidating and made me think about what I was doing, and the level at which I was doing it. Adam told me to stop running, just do the walking, keep my heart rate up, get stronger first. Totally smart, right? Yes, of course, but in my competitive brain, I didn't want to do that. I wanted more of a challenge for myself. On the flip side, when I did decide to just walk and do some stretching afterwards, I felt better. My body wasn't protesting as much to what I was doing. Of course I didn't want this to be true, but it was. It freaking worked.
I kept going with it, and it wasn't until probably September or October of last year that I really felt like I could do some of my 'waddle intervals', and handle it okay. I was pretty happy with that, but still learned to not push too hard, and listen to what my body was telling me. Some days the intervals felt good and some days they didn't-that's just the way it goes. I didn't walk as much over the winter (I hate treadmills!!), but did manage to get some time in on the treadmill, or outside, even though I hate being cold! Not as many miles over the winter for sure, but then (finally!) March was here and the weather was changing and I was ready to get back outside and enjoy my walks.
I've been more consistent this year with walking and doing intervals, and it's been fun! I have managed to get myself up to two or three miles now, instead of just one to one and a half. That in itself is an accomplishment in my book!! I have listened to my body, stretched, gotten more massages (thank goodness for my coworkers!) and hydrated more. I have not had the aches and pains that I had last year, thus far, and have incorporated the intervals again. Some days are hot, sticky and just plain gross outside - yay Ohio summers! - but I still make myself go out and put in some miles. That has been as much of the challenge as listening to my body and not pushing too hard.
I typically buy good running shoes from my friends at Columbus Running Company (shameless plug!), and most of the time I get Brooks shoes. Brooks has a tag line that they use in a lot of their marketing and clothing lines that says 'Run Happy'. I love this!! I would add be smart while you run happy, but the happy part is the most important. Accomplishment is great and it's good to give yourself a little push, but when you're feeling those pains, listen to your body, and slow things down a bit. It's okay to do that. It might mess with your brain a little, but it really is okay. The mindfucker part of being more healthy and fit can be a big road block (think two steps forward, one step back) and I've certainly experienced that, but the accomplishment in the end is totally worth it!! We can do anything we put our minds to, and a lot of times, even more than we thought. We all have it in us to be amazing people and accomplish so many things, for sure, but, we do have to slow down at times and listen to what our bodies are telling us.