One thing I wish I knew YEARS ago was that running has no rules. I would have run years, maybe decades, earlier if I knew that a run is anything you want it to be! I used to dream, literally dream in my deepest sleeps, that I was running. I could feel the air hunger in my lungs and burning in my legs. I would wake and wish I could really run but would rationalize that nonathletic girls like me just didn't have what it takes. Oh, how I still yearned to run.
Then about two years ago I made a commitment to be healthier. I was a diabetic, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and then found out on a routine physical and EKG that I had a previous cardiac event and was not even aware of it. I pledged to myself that I did not get my daughter through her battles with cancer only to die myself before seeing her and her brothers to adulthood. I was quickly approaching the age my Dad was when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and left his home for the last time. Not everything was in my power, I reasoned, but making my body and soul the best they could be most certainly was not only in my power but was my responsibility.
So my diet changed and I started Zumba classes. I did P90X and Jillian Michaels. I laughed and I read and I worked on improving myself. I discovered juicing and a Paleo lifestyle. I was seeing major changes and was thrilled. It finally occurred to me that this would be a time to try to run.
Many friends had recommended different programs and the one that stood out to me was Couch to 5K( http://www.c25k.com ). I am so glad I took the time to check it out! It gave me a great foundation to base my future running on. More than that, however, it gave me confidence. I started running in the heat of the Carolina summer but was able to do most of what was demanded of me. I was a runner! I wasn't fast, it wasn't pretty and it didn't feel great but I was a runner!
The part that gave me the most difficulty was something I didn't think I could do much about, short of surgery. I had a bad knee made worse by the impact of running and the twisting of Zumba. More painful still was the heel pain I had from a bone spur on the opposite foot. I was a mess and my "over 40" body was not cooperating at all!
Then a friend suggested I look into the Galloway Method of running. What?! You can combine running and walking and reduce injuries? Is this really running? I was skeptical but at that point really had nothing to lose so I let my knee and heel rest a bit and then started up anew. It was an unbelievable ah-ha moment! I ran for 3 minutes, walked for 1 minute and found my times to be just as good (which really doesn't mean fast in my case) and my knee and heel were not quitting on me! I couldn't believe this was possible or acceptable at any 5Ks or races! I thought I surely must be the only one doing such a lame thing and calling it running. Then I participated in my first 5K and saw that a huge portion of runners were doing just that! The finish line and medals, t-shirts and applause were the same for the fastest runner and the poke along like me! There were no "Running Police" declaring me a fraud and a cheat! I was hooked!
So here I am closing in on my first year of running and I have two 5Ks under my belt, will be running a 4 miler and the Spartan Race ( http://www.spartanrace.com) next month with a half marathon (http://www.runlikeadiva.com/Events/Divas_Half_Marathon_-_North_Myrtle_Beach.htm ) in April. June brings the Warrior Dash (http://www.mudrunguide.com/event/carolinas-warrior-dash-2013/ ) and October will be my second Half Marathon (http://www.runlikeadiva.com/Events/Long_Island__NY.htm). All of this will culminate in January, 2014 when I will mark my 50th year on this earth, a milestone my dad never got to celebrate, by running in the Goofy Challenge ~ a Half and Full Marathon in a weekend. I am addicted and love it! I still am not fast and my running isn't pretty; I still don't love the actual run itself most days, but the feeling afterwards is a way better hangover than any wine or tequila could ever give!
So as I said at the start, there are no rules to running! Make it what you want it to be! After you do, tell the next person so they too can know the joy of accomplishment and the exhilaration of exhaustion. This is a secret that shouldn't be kept. I am so proud to finally be a RUNNER!