Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Running Legs

So on Friday I did what every runner knows you are not supposed to do -- I ran too much too soon. I couldn't help it; I missed running so much and I just wanted to see what I could do. Famous last words.

Years ago when I was single, living in the city, and could work out whenever, my roommate and I joined a gym in Old City. It was great. We would run to the gym, work out, and either walk, cab, or bus it home. We even saw a personal trainer (oh how I miss the days of disposable income...)! This was when I was trying to lose weight the first go-round, and I remember the trainer saying that running was one of the best ways to lose weight because it works so many muscles at once. Sold. I mean, to a single girl who may have been a little chubs, all I heard was "quickly lose weight." Without knowing what the hell I was doing, I started running on the treadmill. I think in those early days a speed of 4.5 was super fast to me. For those who don't run or walk on treadmills, many people can walk (albeit quickly) at a 4.5 speed. I wouldn't say that back then I loved running, but it got the job done and poundage started coming off. My friend convinced me to run the Mother's Day Race for the Cure [Breast Cancer] in Philly -- a 5K, one of my favorite race lengths -- and again, without really knowing how to train, I said, "Hells yeah, beahtch." Honestly, I think I really did say it like that, it was the mid-aughts. Obviously. So, in an amazingly fast 40 minutes, I blazed through that 5K. (Side note: a 5K is 3.1 miles. Many skillfully trained and super fast runners finish below 20 minutes.) In the process, I fell head over heels in love.

Thankfully, I had no idea how slow my time was -- I was really proud. I think if someone had pointed out that some people walk a 5K faster than what I ran it, I would have been devastated. Instead, I kept running and actually looked into training (WHAT?!), and the next year finished in 32 minutes -- very respectable. In the meantime, I started looking for other races to train for and run. A friend convinced me to run the Philadelphia Half-Marathon. Naive to the endurance involved, I thought, 13.1 miles -- CAKE. This brings me to my point. I did train for that half. I ran it, and again, I LOVED it. That same friend ran with me, and I finished in 2:16 (that's hours:minutes, fyi) -- a great first time. Here's what no one tells you (and listen up, newbies, because this is important): the day after an incredibly long run like that, where you push yourself competitively beyond what you may have trained, well... it sucks. The runner's high probably hasn't worn off BUT your legs work as well as a toddler learning to walk. In fact, most infants taking their first steps probably have more control over their legs that you do at that moment. Like childbirth, amnesia takes over when you train for the next race. And truth be told, if you train better and don't push so hard on race day, you may not be so sore... but who doesn't run with everything they've got when there are people around you running just as hard and just as far? Seriously.

Again, my long-winded point. So on Friday, I threw caution to the perfectly cool wind and ran for 12 minutes straight. Mind you, I took a good 9 months off from running while I was pregnant. 9 MONTHS. No running. None. I had only just started this past week doing 60 seconds of running followed by 90 minutes of walking for 20 minutes total. I had no right to just trot along for 12 minutes straight (and then an additional 3 minutes after I walked for a bit -- mostly because I like even intervals). There is a reason why training programs don't say, "Hey, on the 8th day, just run your ass off and see what you can do." So, starting as early as Friday night, my legs have been mush. In fact, I think it was easier walking after I ran the 13.1 miles than it has been right now. And don't get me wrong, I wasn't running fast. I mean, in that 12 minutes I probably ran a mile. I think I ran faster in the first 5K that I talked about earlier. Seriously, I was lapped by an 80 year old woman getting in her morning stroll.

But it was soooo worth it.

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