Does Coffee Count As Hydration?

I’m not a morning person.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I do just fine with mornings, as long as I’m approaching them from the other side. Mornings are late nights. It’s more accurate to say I’m not a “functional-when-I-first-wake-up person.” As such, I’m in awe of runners (and other athletic types) who get up early and get their workout in at the beginning of the day. I have to cling to the wall just to stop everything spinning as I shuffle from room to room, cursing the daylight. But I figured I’d give it a try today. I set my alarm for an hour earlier than my usual time, and managed to get out of bed after hitting snooze only three times. Stumbled into the living room, sat down at the computer, and seriously contemplated just going back to bed. Then I saw this posted on Facebook:

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I thought about that for a moment, and contemplated the engraving on my ID bracelet:

I Choose To Be Stronger Than My Excuses

And I realized that if I just sat there when I was physically capable of getting up, getting my shoes on, and heading out the door, then I was weak. I accept a lot of my faults, but weakness isn’t one of them.

I got dressed, laced my shoes up, and stumbled out the door. I faltered and ached and wanted to just lie down in the park’s grass and sleep, but I kept going. My route is through a park, with the midway point at a small, man-made lake with a fountain and ducks.

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Yep. Totally worth it.

Begin At The Beginning

In trying to become a runner, I’m using The Starting Line as a guide. After a couple of months, I’m still somewhere between steps 1 and 2. And that’s okay.

Whether it’s this plan, one you get from a friend, or one from a personal trainer, it’s important to remember that these are guides. Our bodies are all unique, and it’s up to us to know our true limitations, and not what we either want them to be, or what we convince ourselves that they are.

At the beginning of the year, I’d have told you my limitation was pretty much a trip to the grocery store. By the time I walked all the way around the store and then carried the groceries up to the second floor, I was too exhausted to do anything else for the rest of the day. Or, you know, week. I know now that this was a false limitation. I felt tired, therefore that must be all that I can do. I know now that a little bit more each day beyond what I think I can do is what helps me improve. (For what it’s worth, I’ve improved to the point where I admit that I giggled a little when my husband complained about walking “all the way back” to the other side of the store for something, and offered to go get it for him. Before, I had him fetching things for me all the time.)

I’ve also learned that there are limits, and my body will tell me when I hit them. I know, for example, that if I try to do a mile when I have a severe sinus infection, I will pass out. But my mind says, “Skip the workout completely, you’re too sick.” My body knows that’s a false limitation. I can’t do a mile, but I can do a half mile, or lift, or cycle so that I’m already sitting down if I get dizzy. I can work out at home so that if I do feel faint, I can stop and rest without being in anyone’s way (except the cats, but I’m always in their way).

One of the cats, looking reproachfully at me because I'm in his way.

Cheese looking at me reproachfully because I’m in his way.

One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Bach’s Illusions:

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.

There are enough other people arguing for your limitations already, enough people telling you that you can’t or you’re not good enough or you won’t make it. There are enough other people telling you that you’re not doing enough, that you need to push yourself harder. You can ignore all of that. It’s harder to ignore it when you’re saying it to yourself. Just remind yourself that your limitations are exactly that: YOURS. Only you know what you’re truly capable of, and only you can decide what you’re going to be capable of  a month from now, or a year from now, or five years from now. And if your pace is a little slower than some, so what? It’s your pace, and at least you’re going somewhere.

The (Not-So) Quick and the (Un)dead

If you pay attention to the upcoming events over on the right-hand side, then you already know that The Zombie Run took place in St. Louis this past weekend.

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I chose to participate as a zombie this year. In doing so, I learned a few things, which I will share with you, in the event that you ever decide to take place in a zombie apocalypse on the side of the undead.

  1. Make sure you have all of the supplies that you’re going to need, including inhaler and sunblock.
  2. Being a zombie is fun, but it’s most fun when you put a lot of work into it. It’s also, in many ways, more physically demanding than actually running the 5K. And you are more likely to get injured, as you contort your body into bizarre zombie poses and lurch around in a way that the human body isn’t really intended to move.
  3. Makeup that’s been sitting in the sun for hours adds quite a lot to the “undead” experience, in that it smells a lot like something died.
  4. I feel the need to repeat the necessity of sunblock.
  5. Don’t wear clothes that you can’t bear to part with. The “blood” should wash out, but there’s no guarantee. (Or you could just wear them and look all bloody, which can be sort of cool under the right circumstances.)
  6. Be kind to the youngest runners. This is supposed to be fun for them, not a horrible experience that they never want to repeat. (And if a little zombie hunter shoots you with a water gun, fall down.)
  7. Hydrate! Unlike the runners, you’re not getting water stops, and you don’t just finish and head off to the party. You’re there for the entire race. And growling and roaring without water is just dangerous.
  8. Did I mention sunblock? Because seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Especially if your makeup artist decides to go with the “dark, rotting flesh” look.
  9. Don’t attack the runners. Really, just don’t. It’s rude, dangerous, and completely against the rules, and ruins the event for a lot of people, as you end up with cranky runners further down the line.
  10. It’s not often that you get to dress up in a scary costume and leap out behind trees to chase people down a road (well, I mean, I guess it could happen often, but I’m pretty sure you’d end up with restraining orders against you). Enjoy it, play it up, and have fun!

Next year, the zombies better be at the top of their game, because they’ll be contending with Kitty as a runner!

A Little Bit More…

Tonight’s workout is brought to you by:

  • the number 2 (for how many laps I walked)
  • the number 3 (for how many laps I ran)
  • and the letter W (for the watermelon cookies I snarfed down, which inspired me to burn some extra calories and were totally worth every extra step).

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I Actually DO Like Running!

I stayed after work today to walk a few laps around the parking lot. I was maintaining a very (VERY) brisk pace, and realized that if I were moving any faster, I’d be running… so, with no bright lights and no one to see me even if there were, that’s what I did. I only lasted about thirty seconds, and my legs felt like they were burning, and I wanted to just STOP completely… instead, I dropped back down to a walk, and kept going.

When I got to the same spot on the next lap, I ran again. And it hurt again, and I only lasted about forty-five seconds. And then again on the next lap. And the next.

On my final lap, I got to the same spot, and tried again. And it didn’t hurt. In fact, it was kind of awesome. I had to slow back to a walk when I hit the part of the lot where there are no lights (because there might be potholes, or twigs, or raccoons to trip over, and that would suck).

The terror that stalks the night behind our building.

The terror that lurks in the shadows.

I have to admit, after thinking about it and talking about it and investing money in it, I was worried I would still hate running, and that I had certain expectations that weren’t going to be met. Nope. I love this. I didn’t love it the first or second or fifth time, but I love knowing that I can do this.

Next time, I’m trying for full laps.

The Importance of Proper Footwear, Part 2

“Why, Kitty!” I hear you say. “Are those the Asics Kayano 19 I see on your feet?”

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Yes. Yes, they are. They are like wrapping your feet in marshmallows and walking on tiny feather pillows.

I took them for a test run today. Well, test walk. I was able to walk at double my usual pace, and maintain it longer, with minimal pain. Unfortunately, still not one of my better workouts since I ate too soon before I went to the gym and ended up with some nasty pains in my side. But I was able to “walk” at a near jogging speed. I’m on my way to running.

See Kitty Run (Run, Kitty, Run!)

All of this started sometime in November. I’m not sure how or why, but I decided I want to be a runner. (Really, I can probably blame my friend, Tammy, as she was busy completing marathons and whatnot.) The only viable time to run would be at night, so I made arrangements to run in the parking lot after work. I bought the necessary gear for winter running, set up my playlist, downloaded a C25K app, let my coworkers know where to find me if I didn’t check back in within two hours, and then I set off.

“Begin walking at a brisk pace.”

Okay, sure. I can totally do that. Look at me walking briskly! There’s just no stopping me!

“Change to a run for two minutes.”

Two minutes? HA! That’s ridiculously easy… umm. Wow, that kind of hurts my side. Yikes! What’s that pain in my leg? OHMYGOD two minutes has to be nearly finished!

“One minute, thirty seconds remaining.”

Right. We’ll just walk at a slightly brisker pace. Or maybe just slow down a little more on the “walking” sections.

 

It didn’t take long to realize that a Couch-2-5K was not going to work for me. I could barely manage a couch-to-refrigerator. I probably would have given up after that, but I came home that night to find a flier in my mailbox for a new gym that was opening nearby. I checked the location– not just “nearby”, literally half a block from my apartment. And cheap! I mulled it over for approximately half a day, told a coworker about it. She was the fourth signup for the location, and I was the fifth.

There have been setbacks. I stopped almost entirely between December and February. My usual seasonal depression kicked in, and my doctor recommended tanning in short increments to get the simulated sunlight. My gym has tanning. And hey, since I’m already here, I might as well get a workout in.

Between March and May, I lost 25 pounds. That’s some pretty good incentive to keep going.

It’s so easy to just say, “I’m a grown-up, and I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do,” and skip my workouts. When I finish up a 12-14 hour day at work, the only place I want to be is home. But that’s all the more reason not to give up.

I can’t run away forever, but I can run away for an hour or two a day, literally. I can take off and go and not have to think about anything but my heart rate and my stride and the next step.