Happy Passover and blessed quarantine, friends. Seems fitting the two are in one greeting together since, you know, plague and all. Anyway. Quarantine has done weird things for everyone, but for me it gave me the time to get back into fitness and focus on my health. Since I’m working from home now, I actually have time to take the dogs to the park for long walks. At least that’s where it started.
When I got pregnant with Sayre, I was running 4+ miles a day and lifting weights at the gym 6 days a week. I was in the best shape of my life. I wasn’t the thinnest I’ve ever been, but I was the strongest and healthiest (remember, there’s a huge difference between thin and fit). Then I got pregnant and, though I worked out until I was 9 weeks along, after that I was just so damn tired that it took everything I had to work all day as a teacher and drag my butt home and into bed. And then Sayre died. Months of severe depression passed until I finally started therapy and started getting better. I started working out again and was getting into the swing of things again when I found out I was pregnant with Aurora. I was so scared and nervous that I stopped doing anything. I laid on the couch or in bed most of the time I wasn’t at work because I was so scared to do anything to cause her to die too. And then…Aurora died too. I was so depressed and hated myself and that led to stopping everything. Therapy, exercise, everything that had helped me get better. A year after Aurora died, I found out I was pregnant with Miriam. I only got one week with my sweet little violet until she too died and slipped from my body, quietly and at home.
Which leads to all hell breaking loose and me and the rest of the faculty and staff at the college I work being sent home to work remotely. Here I am going from a 1 hour and 10 minute commute both ways to a whopping 20 second commute from the bedroom to the dining room table. All of this new extra time comes with a cost: our two dogs who expect things like long walks on the beach and martinis. Just kidding, they only drink bourbon. But really, they had too much energy to maintain a calm work environment for me so I decided to start taking them to the city park for walks on my hour lunch. The first time we went I was winded and dying after only half a mile and just walking. I was pissed. I used to be able to run 4 miles, for God’s sake! That’s when I made up my mind that the dogs were now signed up for PawFit because I was going to get back into shape.
And so it began. I took the dogs to the park either on my lunch or after work every day with the aim of doing just 1 mile a day to start. My calves burned, my lungs were livid, and the dogs were loving it. Then I got the bright idea that I should work running back in. This is the part in the story where the dogs become less enthusiastic. After talking with my friend who runs half-marathons, I became familiar with the Jeffing method, which is alternating walking and running to build endurance without getting injured. Here’s the problem though: I have no sense of time or my limitations. I think I’m 10 feet tall and bullet poof, not that great when you’re an out of shape 5’4 woman. I was trying to run too much and too fast, something had to give. So I downloaded the Couch to 5K app to help guide and regulate my runs. Game. Changed.
The first run was a 5 minute warm up walk, a 1 minute run and a 1.5 minute walk alternated 6 times, and then a 5 minute cool down walk. This totaled 25 minutes and 1.5 miles. Easy, right? Wrong. By the end of the run I was dying and firmly believed I would leave a young and pretty corpse behind.
Couch to 5K is designed to be just three runs a week, spaced out whatever way you need. Me being the overachiever that I am, I did two on back to back days. Would I recommend that to start? Not really, no. But it helped me get into the best rhythm for myself: run 2 days, light training day (walking the 1.5 mile goal for now), run 1 day, light training day, rest day, and repeat with modifications as needed due to weather and such.
Today, I upped my training time by 5 minutes and 2 additional walk/run sequences. And you know what? It was the best run I’ve had so far. I felt stronger, my pace was faster and easier, and my breathing didn’t resemble that of a dying basset hound. Right in the middle, when it got hard and I knew I was only halfway through, I thought of my babies. I said their names one after the other: Sayre. Aurora. Miriam. And you know what happened? My pace got faster and my breathing became easier. I thought about them and wearing a cape with their names on it as I crossed the finish line at runDisney. Oh, did I mention that I set my goal as running the Disney World 5K on my 30th birthday in January? Well, that’s what my goal is and I’ll be wearing a cape with my children’s names on it.