No Harm Done

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yet Another Blog About Running

This week I begin Week 5 of the "Couch To 5K" running program. I've actually been following this running program for more than 5 weeks, but I got stuck on week 2.

Week 1 had been too easy and I was excited to move on to week 2. But after a week I still hadn't moved past the "gasping for breath, heart pounding out of my chest, desperately watching the seconds tick by on the clock" stage. After 2 weeks without improvement I couldn't figure out what the problem was. So, I did what I always do in these situations, and called my friend D.

D. was my college roommate (she put up with me all 4 years) and she's been a runner since her high school days. She even ran through much of her pregnancy! Anyway, D. had to start running from scratch after the birth of the adorable Baby J., so I figured she'd have some ideas.

D. suggested to run as slowly as possible. I'd been walking at a brisk pace and then speeding up the treadmill for the running portion of the workout. Instead, D. recommended simply shifting from walking to running motions. In theory, it sounded like a good plan. In practice, it was a good plan, except that I no longer feel like I'm running. I'm basically just shuffling along for timed portions of my workout.

When my brother came home from the Army years ago, I remember listening to him go on about all the running they were required to do. When I commented on the good shape he must be in, he chuckled and said, "Well, not really. It's not like we really ran. I can shuffle in line for 20 miles with a 50-pound pack on my back without a problem, but I can't really run."

So. That is the image of me on the treadmill: shuffling. The positive side of shuffling is that I can finally make it through the timed intervals of the program, and have now progressed to week 5. By the end of week 5, I will should be running shuffling for 20 minutes without stopping.

I've started going to the gym while Braden is at swimming. Because of this, I have to go to a different gym than usual; a gym that is closer to the pool. This gym does not have treadmills with TVs on them. Instead, there's a bank of 6 large televisions mounted on the wall above the full-length mirrors. All the aerobic equipment (bikes, stair machines, ellipticals, treadmills, etc.) face the wall of mirrors/televisions.

Last week I learned that when I am watching a television mounted on the wall I do not run in a straight line. I tend to move from side to side. This doesn't seem to happen when the tv is mounted on the treadmill, but somehow being required to watch from a distance throws me off. Or, it could be the reading of closed-captioning. I'm not sure.

I wasn't aware of this tendency until I found myself hurtling backwards and desperately grasping for the side rails before I flew into the elliptical machine behind me. Apparently, I'd been so sucked in to the VH-1 Top 100 songs of the '80s special (patrons are at the mercy of whoever sets the TV channels for the day), that I hadn't noticed I was drifting to the left. I stepped on the side of the machine (the part that wasn't moving), and suddenly my momentum was thrown off. My right foot came down on the belt, and I felt myself moving backwards quite quickly. Thankfully I grabbed the rails and managed to stop the belt and right myself, but not without making a lot of noise and alerting everyone to my klutziness. The treadmills are in the front row, so everyone behind me couldn't help but see.

It was not unlike this:

*See the original treadmill routine by clicking here.*

Everyone politely stared at the bank of tvs and acted like nothing had happened, but I knew they'd seen. And I knew they were watching to see if it would happen again. You'd think that having everyone pretend not to see you embarrass yourself would be better than having them laugh at you, but you'd be wrong. I'd much rather deal with naked embarrassment and blatant mockery.

So now when I run, my eyes dart to my reflection in the mirror every few seconds, to make sure I'm lined up on the center of the belt.

When I first began the Couch-To-5K program, I had daydreams in which I saw myself humbly accepting an Olympic Gold medal. I would patriotically and tearfully sing my national anthem while I watched Old Glory raised on the highest pole, spotlighed against the night sky.

In post-race press conferences, reporters would ask, "Is it true you only began running 4 years ago? Did you have any idea that you had such a gift? And what about those rumors that you're dating actor Christian Bale?"

I would smile in a charming and down-to-earth manner, winning the press' favor, and respond, "Yes, I started running when I was 35, and no, I had no idea at the time that I would be any good at it. My father was a marathoner, but I'd assumed that his athletic genes had gone to my siblings. As for the dating rumors, well... I don't know Mr. Bale personally, but I will say that a call from him would not be unwelcome." The crowd of reporters would laugh and applaud appreciatively, and, smiling, I would hold up my gold medal as flash bulbs exploded.

It was a lovely dream, and yes, I know it was unrealistic. But in those moments when I wanted to turn off the machine and head to McDonalds for a McFlurry, it was the encouragement I needed to stick it through to the end. The dream of athletic success (and Nike sponsorship) had been an encouragement.

Instead, I find myself stumbling loudly on the treadmill, at the front of a crowded gym, no doubt providing someone else with a funny blog entry for the day.


At 3:27 PM , Blogger melissa in VA said...

I got here from Dy's blog. Great post! My cardio could also be described as a shuffle....but it's a shuffle I pretty good about anyway. LOL Awesome job on the running and weight loss. It feels great to make progress doesn't it? Keep up the good work!

At 11:25 PM , Blogger Dy said...


Yeah, reminds me of the first time I used the treadmill at a gym. I didn't stretch properly beforehand, and when I stepped off and tried to walk, I took a full-on face plant right in the aisle. It was like I'd tried to take off with someone else's legs. Mortifying doesn't begin to describe it, but I'm with you - I'll take blatant mockery over feigned obliviousness any day. ;-)

BTW, I'm really proud of you for doing this! I keep going to the site, reading it, thinking I could do it, and then curling up on the couch to read one more chapter of whatever I can find. Cookbooks, dissertations, conversion charts...


At 2:20 PM , Blogger Melkhi said...

So sorry about the humiliation, but really impressed with your goal and effort!

Right after we purchased a treadmill, I tried it out. My husband thought he'd tease me by pushing up the speed while I was on it. I couldn't adjust that fast! I flew off the back and knocked my wind out on the linoleum floor. I was sooooo mad! He was very sorry.


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