As I embarked on the second week of my monthlong goal to actually like running, I was not expecting miracles to happen. Despite being a fairly active person overall, that first run was a bit of a disaster. But I did learn a few things that I was able to tweak to get me to the point where I can say that while I don’t (yet) enjoy running, I hated it less than I did last week when I was questioning my sanity for volunteering for such an experiment.
First of all, to those of you who recommended the Zombies, Run! app, thank you. One of the things I like about exercising on my elliptical at home is that I can also watch mindless TV while I do, so it made sense that not having any entertainment would make running seem like even more of a chore. As it turns out, going on “missions” to help gather supplies and rescue survivors of the zombie apocalypse (and also listening to some tunes in between panicked messages from base) does the trick for me. Unlocking the next part of the story provides that little bit of motivation I need to head out the door.
I figured something else out about why that first run last week was so brutal, too. I don’t know how it’s possible that this didn’t occur to me in the moment or even upon reflection afterward, but guys — I started that run going uphill.
I live in a hilly neighbourhood, which I frequently walk, and I guess I just never gave it much thought. But who in their right mind would go for a run for the first time in at least a decade and turn to go uphill? (This girl, apparently.) No wonder my ankles weren’t working properly, for god’s sake.
This week, I used the hill to my advantage, like someone who wants to actually be strategic about this would do. I warmed up for five minutes by walking briskly up the hill, which got my heart rate going, and then I turned and alternated running and walking first on flat land and then downhill at the end. The terrain got easier as the physical exertion got harder, and I was rather pleased with myself.
I think using the hill as a warmup helped my ankles feel better during the run, and I was also pleasantly surprised that the epic three-day soreness I experienced after that first run didn’t return.
I intended to run at least three times this week, but life got in the way, so I only made it out twice. But that’s twice the amount of runs I did last week, and I’ve also decided I won’t force myself to only run as my exercise this month. I want to keep doing the other physical activities I enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like I’m unnecessarily torturing myself, as that would be the opposite of the point. The goal, at the end of this, is not to only exercise by running, but to view running as an easy, accessible option that I enjoy with some frequency.
I’ve been tracking my running “moods” and on a scale of 1-5, with five being, “Fuck this shit to hell,” and one being, “Whoo-hoo! Running is the best!,” and I ended the week with a nice, neutral three. I did not like it in the moment, but I felt stronger and accomplished immediately afterward for having done it, so I think that’s a win.
My goals for next week include taking three runs, at least one of which is on a scenic trail. My longest run/walk this week was a little over 20 minutes, so if I can get that up to 25 minutes, that would feel like progress. And I’m hoping at least one run will clock in at or near a “two” on the mood chart.