Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Zero to Thirteen (Here We Go Again)

Victory's within the mile...
Almost there, don't give up now
Only thing that's on my mind
Is who's gonna run this town tonight....

I met Natasha because one of my best friends at the time was trying to date her friend. We clicked almost immediately, and our friendship has outlasted the friendships with the people that introduced us to begin with. While there are a lot of reasons that we are friends, we bonded early on over a love for green chile, trashy tv, football players, and... running/working out. 

My love for running was not something I inherited at birth. I loathed running for the bulk of my childhood. Who the heck thought to call our one-mile runs in school "fun runs?" I hated them! By the time I was twelve, I decided running just wasn't for me and I had all but given up on it. Run in gym class? Oh, I can't do that... I have to walk, I'd say. Excuses, excuses!

One night after dinner, I confessed to Dad how much I hated running. Dad wasn't a runner either, and said he struggled with the same when he was my age. He invited me to go for a walk a few minutes later, and then challenged me to run to the end of the street with him. He gave me a high-five when we made it, and walked with me back to the house. This became a new routine for us for several months. We would eat dinner, we would do the dishes together, and then we would go for our walks/runs... each time, Dad challenging me to go a little further. One random night, however, I decided I didn't like this anymore and abruptly stopped joining him. Dad continued inviting me on a nightly run, but I wouldn't go. I have zero idea why I did this - stupid teenager, I guess. Dad became a long-distance runner for years after we started this routine, only retiring after he was disabled in a work accident. Every single time he returned from a long distance run, it would make me sad that I had stopped running with him. (And yet... I never joined him or tried to get into it with him. I kick myself for not doing that.)

In late high school and in college, I built up a very steady and heavy workout routine. Sadly, I stopped running with any regularity in 2001 after seriously injuring my knee for the second time. It was my own fault - my body didn't fail me; I did. At the time of my injury, I was running between 6-8 miles a day, going to the gym once or twice a day, and working full time on my feet in cheap pumps. I wasn't eating right nor was I sleeping as much as I should. My body needed a break, and it simply gave out. I took a recommended break (per doctor's orders), and spent the summer of 2001 swimming and chillaxing at the pool. 

Natasha carried on with her fitness efforts. I'd join her at the gym occasionally, but our work and school schedules made working out together difficult (if not impossible). By the time I graduated in 2002, I was barely working out at all. Throughout the rest of my years in Albuquerque (2002-05), I made several attempts at reinvigorating my fitness routine. I'd work out with Natasha or other friends, or I'd work out on my own at work or at my favorite local gym. I yo-yo'd for years with this, never actually committing to any sort of routine. Natasha, meanwhile, continued working out and running. Pictured above is her most recent half marathon last September, and in October she finished a 10K! She's a beast, and I love it!

And how about my marathon efforts? Ha! Well... Other than a 10K in New Orleans and several 5K runs/walks in California, I haven't been doing much running lately. Why not? Oh, there are so many reasons excuses I could use here. Two knee injuries. Heavy work loads. Relocations. Weather. Yada-yada-yada. Honestly... there are only two reasons: Fear and laziness. Since my last knee injury, I learned that I suffer from tachycardia and asthma. I'm scared of overtraining, overexerting, and possibly re-injuring my knees and being forced to have surgery. I'm also really friggin' lazy. I work long, stressful days... I just want to have a casual walk with my dog, eat dinner, and go to bed at night. Who really has time for the gym anyway?

Over the last few months, I have been doing some soul-searching, looking at things I used to love and have given up, and wondering why I ever gave them up in the first place. While I won't discuss many of those things on this blog, one thing I will discuss that is relevant is how much I miss my fitness. I've always loved the gym. I've also always missed running. I miss the feeling of a heavy steel weight in my hands. I miss the feeling of the ground pounding beneath my feet when I run. I miss the feeling of happiness and lightness that you have after you complete an invigorating workout. And mostly... I miss the freedom that fitness gives you. I don't know why it's so hard for me to get as dedicated to fitness as I was in my early 20s. I'm not married; I don't have kids. I seemingly have no excuse to be this way, so what gives?

At the gym tonight, I decided to try a 10 minute run based on a couch-to-marathon program I read about while I was sick. It was only 10 minutes, but the gym was empty so I thought I'd give it a go. And you know what? I completed it. If I would have gone to 15 minutes, I would have hit a mile and that felt pretty great. I had a sort of epiphany in those 10 minutes... if I can do this, what is stopping me from training for a 10K? Or a half marathon? Natasha has been prodding me to train for a half marathon with her for years... can I maybe do it? I'm going to give it considerable thought over the next few days, that's for sure. What do you guys think? Well, I'm off to bed, but I'll see you again soon! 



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