Running

So it’s the new year and everybody is keenly adding new resolutions which reminded me I wanted to write this down. And because this is long and important to me, I don’t want it to get lost in some social media. So I decided to put it here. It is personal and has nothing to do with GNOME, so feel free to skip it if that’s what you came for.

I decided to start running some time in 2013 and I consider it one of my most impressive achievements of last year. I originally did it to have a release for the anger after my breakup, but it quickly moved into a case of I didn’t know working out would do that to me. Let’s see what happens next. The way I went about it wasn’t very clear to me at the beginning but I reflected on it quite a lot and a bunch of rules became apparent in the process. They worked really well for me, but would probably involve serious challenges for differently structured people (ie. maybe you :))

  1. Make sure I run tomorrow
    I decided early on that I wanted to get into a daily routine so I didn’t have an excuse to not run on any day. With twice-a-week routines or similar I always end up with “I don’t have to do it today” and putting it off until forever. But by caring about tomorrow I had to make sure that I was having fun today. If I didn’t enjoy myself or if I overpowered myself I knew I wouldn’t want to go tomorrow. And I’ve learned recently that the most important thing is spending time on it, so that’s what this is about.
  2. Don’t set any goals
    I didn’t want to set any measurable goals because both reaching the goal and not reaching it would be problematic. If I did not reach a goal I would be demotivated and think of myself as a loser. It would force me to overcome that feeling. If I did reach the goal, I would get a feeling of accomplishment, of being done. And that might stop me from going out tomorrow. After all, I’m done.
  3. Try to improve
    This is as generic as it gets. But it was important. I always wanted to do better than yesterday. Or last week. Or whatever I felt I could improve on. Not slacking, improving.

I started in earnest after the temperature remained above the freezing point, which was in the mid of March. I picked the dumbest route I could find, which was a 1.4km lap around the block. In retrospect that was a good choice because there is absolutely no traffic I need to think about and I can shut off my brain and just run. The other great thing was that by running a lap I can decide after each lap if I want to run another one. As I never knew in advance how well I feel, this has probably made me run quite a distance more than I would have otherwise.

The first few days I was running 200m, walking 300m, and repeat that. Luckily, nobody would see me when I did it at close to freezing temperatures at 2:00am. But luckily, improvements came quickly and after 2-3 weeks I was already doing that for 2 laps and the running distances started to become longer than the walking part. By June (after 3 months), I upped that to 3 laps in sunshine and quickly after that I ran 4 laps (that is 5.6km) for the first time. Though it would take until October for me to make 4 laps my default distance. And while at the beginning my time for 4 laps was around 35min, it’s now at below 31min. I don’t think I cracked the 30min yet, but I don’t measure myself exactly. This goes back to what I said above about not wanting to have anything concrete, as that usually leads to me starting to compare seconds and then being disappointed when I miss some goals. So all I do is count the songs that played on my mp3 player while I was out and then roughly summing up their lengths.

So how did my body like the fact that I was straining it so much? On the one hand, he seemed to be okay with it. I didn’t lose any weight – probably because I’m not overweight, if rather close – but my body form readjusted in a way that made me require new pants. My quarterly Diabetes measurements also improved noticeably. On the other hand, my body didn’t like to be exercised. I got to learn about a lot of leg muscles I didn’t know existed. My knees were not happy the first two months. But because I could stop running after every lap I was able to quickly adjust to growing pains and just run less if muscles were cramping too much or some tendons complained. However, it took until November until I was not having any issues anymore and enjoyed running up escalators two steps at once again.

What helped me a lot was that I had a bunch of friends around me that run themselves and could give me good insights into their own experiences. And even if they still run a 5k faster than I do, I run way more than them so it’s only a question of time until I catch up. What also helped was that I got the right equipment for running and had no issues with blisters on my feet or having clothing that felt light without being cold in winter temperatures. So there never was any outside temptation that I could use as an excuse to be weak and stop running.

So in summary I ran somewhere between 750 and 1000km in 2013. I got myself into a workout where I average 5.6km each day in slightly more than 30 minutes. My dreams for the future are to get that time to below 28min so the average speed goes above 12km/h, to run 10km for the first time and to get rid of the walking I still do in between. But most of all, I wish to enjoy running tomorrow.