Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Wanna Be Runner

Since I posted just eight days ago, I've been stuck. For the life of me, I cannot consistently run more than a quarter mile. I simply cannot do it. After every run my shins hurt and I'm tired. Here are the top ten negative thoughts running through my head regarding running (hehe...see what I did there?):

1) Maybe almost 38 is too old to start running.
2) It's because I'm running alone. I can't do this by myself.
3) This is a terrible idea.
4) I can't do this.
5) I should lose 25 pounds and then try again.
6) Do I have asthma?
7) Do I have some kind of weird syndrome that makes my feet land funny when I walk?
8) Stress fractures are a thing. Maybe I have one in my shin. Will my leg eventually just break in half if I keep going on it? I bet that really hurts.
9) What if I'm some kind of medical freak that is incapable of running and as a result running will kill me?
10) I need one of those full body medical scan things before I run again.

Here are the top ten positive things I've thought about running in the last week:
1) It's raining!  I have an excuse not to run today!
2) Praise God that run is over.

(turns out I could only come up with two)

A friend (and marathon runner) has gently reminded me several times that I may be trying to do too much. True to form, I've thought "What? ME?? Do too much? Take things to the extreme? You must be out of your mind!  I would NEVER do that!"

She's probably at least a little bit right. I sometimes think I'm known for my patience professionally, but it's not something I can claim personally. I like to call it "task oriented" because that sounds better that "ridiculously impatient."

Last night I decided I needed to do something different.  What I'm doing worked well a month ago, but I'm stuck and it doesn't work anymore. I needed to change my instructional strategy, if you will. So I downloaded the Couch to 5K app, found a starting point that was a little behind where I felt like I was in my training, and started there. I used it today for the first time (week three, day one), and it felt good.

So I don't know if this will really make me runner, and if it works I have no idea how long it will work, but I'm giving it shot.

And now 2 school related thoughts:
Sidebar: Do engineers and dentists and bus drivers relate everything in their lives to their profession like educators do?

1) All learners begin with different skill levels. Some of them, like me as a runner, start out behind. An instructional strategy may work for them for a while, and they may make great strides, but when a kid is stuck it's our job to recognize it and make a change. Do something different. Try something else. There's no guarantee that the something else will work, but we have to be willing to keep trying until something does work.

2) As a learner, I have two speeds where I'm comfortable: fast and stop. When I felt myself moving too slowly or getting stuck, I just wanted to quit. I made excuses. I thought of rational arguments about why this isn't good for me. A part of me started to believe that this task is impossible for someone like me. Some of our kids will feel this way, and we have to help them see that slow and stuck are okay speeds, too, for a little while. We have to help them find success even if it means backing up -- like today's workout that felt good enough to make me want to run again tomorrow. They need to see progress, and we need to find ways to show it to them.

I'm still a wanna be runner. And maybe when I can finally call myself a runner I'll decide I'd rather be a cyclist or a swimmer or a great nap-taker (that one sounds good!). But at least I'll know I can do it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Think I Can. I Think I Can

So I've randomly decided to become a runner.

Last year I became quilter, so I needed something else  to become this year, I suppose. The truth is that I really like doing stuff that's hard. Except when I hate it.

My initial goal was to run two miles without stopping. I am fully aware that for people who run regularly, this is like saying I set a goal of ten jumping jacks. Don't judge.

I started off running moving myself two miles on the treadmill, alternating one minute walking with one minute running. Then I increased to two minutes running, one minute walking. Can I tell you that running for a full two minutes just about killed me? It did. My nose was running faster than my body, and I'm pretty sure the Aerofit folks were standing by with some oxygen or maybe an AED machine. At first it really, really sucked. Did I say really? Well, I meant it.

Then I increased again. Then again. Then one day, accidentally, I ran a whole mile. Shockingly, when it came time for me to walk, I didn't want to. I am ever the planner, controller, scheduler and this was certainly not planned, controlled, or scheduled. I wanted to run, and I felt like I had conquered the world!

(cue reflective music to accompany wise quote)
"Sometimes the best things in life happen spontaneously." ~Stormy Hickman
(end reflective music)

I don't know how much longer it took me to run two miles without stopping on the treadmill, but it wasn't very long. Maybe a week. Off to goal #2: Run two miles outside.

I decided to run on a track because I am severely task oriented and knew I would be able to clearly see how far I had left to run. Also, as a school employee formerly of the high school nature I have access to some tracks because I know some peeps. To the track I went.

It sucked a lot.

I was hot and sweating and tired and good Lord the shin splints! My plan was to run a lap and walk a lap, but that pretty quickly turned into run 200, walk 400, try not to cry, run 200,  "Stormy Gale, you are not a quitter!," walk 200, run 100, walk 400, crawl to car.

I have not been back to the track.

Instead I mapped out a little route around my house that covers 2.5 miles if I do it twice. I began alternating running a quarter mile, walking a quarter mile. I realized immediately that my running pace was too fast. On the treadmill I ran two miles at about an 11 minute pace, and I was running my quarter miles at about a nine minute pace. I knew if I wanted to run for longer stretches I needed to slow down. As much as I tried, I just could not slow down. I was suffering by the end of every run. Also, good Lord the shin splints.

But I'm a resourceful gal. I started icing my shins after every run and applying Pan Away Essential Oils (some new voodoo I'm into). Then I did me some googling and found a web site called JogFM. I used it to make a playlist of songs on my phone that are at an 11 minute mile pace. That was a couple of weeks ago, and since then I have consistently run at a pace between 10:30 and 11:10.

(cue reflective music to accompany wise quote)
"Music can inspire us do things we don't think we can." ~Stormy Hickman
(end reflective music)

I coaxed my sister into running a 5K with me on March 28th, and we agreed that we would walk as much as we needed. It was a great race, and I felt good. We finished in 35:40. I am still super proud of that for my first 5K!

I continued to run 4-5 times the following week.

Then we were in Rice for Easter. Wendy (who, did I mention, is four years younger and four inches taller than me) asked if I wanted to do a 5K Fun Run, and I quickly agreed. The voices in my head were supportive. "I am a 5K rock star, man!  Did you see me last week? I wasn't even last!"

And so on the freezing cold morning of the race, it was freezing cold. In the 40's, I think. Cold. I decided to put my race t-shirt on over my dry fit and under my jacket because I needed the extra layers. Someone announced the pre-race warm-up, so we made our way there. A crazy excited trainer person made us do jumping jacks and high knees and lunges (lunges are from the devil, by the way). I was quickly becoming unmotivated tired angry. "DOES HE KNOW WE HAVE TO RUN AFTER THIS?" I may have said that a little too loudly.

Once the pre-race personal training session was over, they made a couple of announcements. The first was about some giant dogs about half way through the course that would probably bark and chase us "but don't worry they won't bite." The second was about how the county had grated (graded? who knows.) the gravel road the day before, so be careful.

The race began, and Wendy and I ran through the sandy, boulder filled road. I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but clearly I do not embellish with these blogs posts. It was like basic training on a rocky beach in the Antarctic.

Wendy didn't want to leave me behind, but I told her it was fine and she took off ahead while I walked. I ran a little in the ditch when it was flat, but mostly I just walked. Good Lord the shin splints. At one point I felt discouraged. The voice in my head said, "You are not a 5K rock star. It was beginner's luck. A fluke. This running business is not for you." Then another voice in my head said, "Shut up, stupid voice. This road sucks. I might injure myself and then how will I run?" I didn't have headphones, but I cranked up my music anyway for all the world to hear, and decided to walk my happy self right on through the whole thing. (I did run at the end because the road was flat and because you have to run through the finish, right?)

On Easter Sunday (the next day), I took the day off from running. By Monday (yesterday), my back was still sore and my shins still screamed, so I took that day off, too, feeling a little defeated.

Then, this afternoon I had a quick conversation with someone I admire a great deal. She's 65 and was encouraging me to sign up for the Aggieland Triathalon. She's registered for four triathlons this year. I told her I'd been running and gave her the short version of my journey so far, and she said, "I'm just not that competitive. I want to enjoy my walks and bike rides." It was a small moment in a small conversation, but it got me.

I came home and ran. I walked a quarter, ran a half, walked a quarter, ran a half, etc. All the while I kept telling myself to stop thinking about shin splints and paces and just enjoy myself. As a result, I ran more than I ever have on this particular course.

Tonight, no shin splints.

I started this whole thing with how I like to do things that are hard. Some people have to do hard stuff because of physical disabilities or learning challenges or whatever else. My mom has MS, and do you know what she does? Yard work. Volunteer work. Raising two grandkids. When things are hard, she keeps going. That's what hard work looks like. I expect it from my children, from my students, and from the staff I have the pleasure of working with. The least I can do is expect it of myself. I can make an effort to find things that are personally challenging and not give up. I can commit to finding joy in the challenge.

So I'm becoming a runner. I'll be 38 in a couple of weeks, and while that's not old I don't ever want to be too old to try something new. I don't ever want to think I can't.

Because I think I can.