After my miserable run in rainy Montreal last weekend I had decided I was probably never going to run again because the short truth was that I hated it and I didn’t actually think that I had been getting better at all. When I started the Couch to 5k program at the beginning of October, I couldn’t run at all, but even five weeks later, I still felt like I was struggling to run the five minute intervals. And then at the pinnacle of hatred for running, I was given nature’s excuse not to. I got sick. I had a head cold for the past week, and took a break from life. Between my fevers and coughing attacks, running was the last thing on my mind.
For the past week all I have done is alternate between laying in bed and sitting on the couch. To make it worse, I went out one night to celebrate my birthday and that kicked me right back into bed for two days. Yesterday was the first day in the past seven that I felt like I could at least pretend not to be sick enough to want to do something else. I went to watch the Bills lose in a humiliating defeat to the Steelers. At the end of the third quarter, when absolutely nothing was happening in the game, I had the most amazing craving to go for a run.
You definitely have to be careful with exercise when you are sick. Generally, if you are feeling up to it, and your symptoms are above your neck, you are fine to do moderate exercise. If you have chest congestion or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should probably wait until it clears up before putting on your sneakers.
I headed out for my run at sunset, which at 4:30 is getting a little depressing, and decided against using the Couch to 5k app, because I wanted to listen to a podcast recommended to me by my brother Mike (99% Invisible, Episode 91: Wild Ones Live). With the Turkey Trot coming up in just two short weeks, I was getting anxious that I wouldn’t be ready to run three full miles without walking, so I decided I was just going to run and see how far I got. I should also mention this was right after talking to my dad about the 15k he completely beasted yesterday. He finished in just over an hour and a half and is a great example of just because you’ve never done something, doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and you can’t do it well.
A note: Running to podcasts works much better for me than running to music. With podcasts, I find myself listening and completely distracted, I had a much more consistent pace. Sometimes listening to music, I listen more passively and I end up focusing a lot more on the actual running, which makes me angry. If you haven’t tried a podcast, you may want to!
Twenty-four minutes later I had run two miles (yeah, I know I’m slow), and I had done so without walking at all. I designed my run to go in a big loop back to my house, but I think that if I had made my circle a little bit bigger, I could have kept running, maybe even finished the 5k I’m striving for. It was such a strange experience, because I was enjoying doing something I usually hate. My breathing stayed steady the whole time and I never (not one time!) thought to myself that I should walk. I just started running, and kept…running. It felt great.
Even if two out of three runs suck, it’s nice to have that one workout that reminds you that you are making progress, and you are doing this for a reason. I have already accomplished so much since the beginning of October. I can run two miles. I am running regularly, and I believe in myself to be able to do more.