Since childhood, I have been severely lacking in any sort of athletic ability. I was always the one in the outfield, hiding from the ball, praying that someone else would catch it before I had to pretend to step up and do something. I despised kickball with a burning passion, and don't even get me started on dodgeball...I still get cold chills thinking about it. One of the great benefits of growing up is that no one can ever force me to engage in sports, ever again. Back then, my stomach would turn at the thought of ANY type of team sport, but my very least favorite activity were the relay races. Oh, how I loathed them. I so clearly remember that acidic dread churning in my belly as I waited in line for the baton. It was awful. Even as a much spryer 10 year old, the idea of running invoked nothing but anxious misery. I hated it so, so much.
Now that I'm approaching 40, I'm much more active than I once was. I'm still not athletic by any means, but I do hit the gym at least 5 days a week. However, as much as I work out, I still fear running. It's so damn hard! It's the one thing that I truly don't trust myself to conquer.
With that in mind, I decided to train for a 5k. I can't stand the thought of not being able to overcome a challenge or fear, so this is my way of winning against that piece of myself that insists I can't do it. That piece is the inner voice that always wants me to fail, to give in, to just pack it up and go home. I hate that voice, so I try to make sure it gets a good asskicking as often as possible.
It's been slow going. In the first week, the plan alternated walking for two minutes, then running for one, for twenty minutes. Easy, right? Well, no...not for me. Despite my commitment to doing an hour of cardio almost every day, I was DYING by the end of the twenty minutes. It was so hard that I was actually depressed: apparently all of my cardio condition had done nothing for me. That voice, the one that I hate, was all "I told you so." I was exhausted, sweaty, and defeated.
But I decided to stick with it. The second day sucked. Day three also sucked. Day four was easier. And before I knew it, I was running two miles without stopping. I know this doesn't seem like much for many of you out there, but for me it was akin to a miracle. It got easier, but it never got easy. Yet, part of me likes that. Every time I run, I'm doing something that is simultaneously breaking me down, and building me up. I can feel myself getting stronger, mentally as well as physically. Sometimes things SHOULD be hard.
If any of you are interested in starting running and are as terrible at it as I am, I highly recommend the "Couch to 5k" running plan. It breaks you in as gently as possible, and it's inspiring to see how far you've come, week by week. You can check it out here: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml