One foot after the other
When my daughter was born, I promised myself I’d relax and enjoy her babyhood, safe in the knowledge that it would pass quickly and when it did, I’d miss it. Most of it anyway! Part of my promise to myself was that I wouldn’t worry about exercising or getting in shape until she was sleeping through the night. This promise was made partly because it appealed to my inner lazy self, and mostly because it allowed me to let sleep be my priority.
Of course I didn’t expect it would take almost 2.5 years before my little girl was sleeping well. There was a point around November last year when I thought the broken sleep would finish me off. But somehow it passed, and when the summer rolled around I had to admit that it was time to come good on my promise to myself to start exercising.
In my entire life, I don’t think I was ever as unfit as I was at the start of this summer. And in the back of my mind I worried about injuring my leg again, the pain of that calf muscle tear last winter not quite forgotten.
But I started slowly. First a few walks. I dusted off the My Fitness Pal app and started watching what I was eating. I made one attempt at the 30 Day Shred – which worked so well for me previously – and realized I wasn’t there yet. When I felt my energy levels improving, I started following a Couch to 5k podcast called 5K101.
The idea is that you run when the podcaster tells you to run, walk when he tells you to walk, and after a few weeks of following his instructions you’ll be up to 5km. You’re supposed to do each weekly podcast three times and then move on. I found I needed four or five attempts at each weekly session before I could do it comfortably. Like I said, I was starting from a very poor fitness level.
Six or seven weeks in, I was at Week 4. Then the evenings got dark and it became obvious that if I wanted to keep running, I’d have to get up the nerve to run with someone else. So a couple of weeks back that’s what I did. And since then everything has changed.
My first night running with a friend, we completed a 5km circuit. It took 40 or so minutes and I had to stop to walk 2-3 times. I didn’t know it then but that was a turning point for me. Three days later, I went out by myself for a run. As I ran I kept reminding myself to just put one foot in front of the other, and keep going. (See how I’m still managing to apply what I learned about the power of positive affirmations from my Gentlebirth class all those years ago!) And I did keep going. I ran 5km without stopping for the first time that night, and I’ve clocked up another 18km in the week or so since then. It feels amazing, and I find myself half way through a run wondering at the fact that I am actually doing this, I’m managing it. And something more – I needed it.