04 April 2016

Back on the Treadmill...Also a Perfect Life Metaphor

As part of  "Un-fuck My Life April" I am, in addition to trying to blog more, attempting to get back into working out.  Between walking pneumonia, idiopathic abdominal pain, starting two jobs and all the rest, I have not been really running all winter.  Needless to say I miss it...or at least I miss having my love-hate relationship with it.

Like I always do, I tried to pick a training plan.  The logic here is that if each day has a no-though-required built-in workout, I will just do it and not talk myself out of it.  The problem with this is that "beginner training plans"  are never actually for beginners.  They are clearly written by ultra-marathoner who sprung fully formed from the foreheads of other ultra-marathoners.   Therefore, the plan progression usually goes something like this:

  • Day 1: Run 1 minute, Walk 1 minute for 1mile- OK great, done and done.  Felt good, got back into it, this is manageable....perfect.
  • Day 2: Rest- I am like, so good at this one.
  • Day 3: Run 1 minute 30 seconds, walk 1 minute for 1.5 miles- Whooooo, 30 seconds can really feel like forever, but hey I survived half way to a 5K.  I can totes do this!
  • Day 4: Strength- Sure thing baby, I routinely dead-lift my 68 pound 9 year old, a few curls and squats are no biggie.
  • Day 5-Run 7 miles at race pace alternating 400m sprints with 600m hill repeats doing 6 strides every .75 miles- Wait!? What!!?!? Did I miss a day? Is this printed wrong? Is there a back page?  Do I need a decoder ring?

And that is where things go off the rails.  As much as I love the whole Couch to 5K "8 weeks can make you runner thing"...these all feel a bit overambitious for people who have (for whatever reason, no judgments ever) been sedentary for a while.  It is going to take WAY more than three runs to get someone up to running for 5 whole minutes, never mind adding technical details like "tempo runs" and all the other jargon that runners use to make it seem like running is more than....well, lets be honest...just putting one foot in front of the other.

My issue isn't strictly that I am too out of shape to progress as fast as the calendar says I "should" (though that is a decent percentage of my angst), it is that this is really demoralizing for anyone who does want to try to get into running.  I know so many people who make it to week 3 of Couch to 5K then quit because honestly, if you have not been working out routinely, the jump from running 1.5 minutes to 3 minutes is alarming. Now, I have played this game long enough to not care, to know that (for me, YMMV) some exercise is better than none, and that eventually it will all shake out.  But for people who have not had that experience, this will turn them right off running.  I am sure this plays into the whole dastardly cycle of "ableist-thin-privilege says everyone should get off their asses and workout/get thin, but  goddess forbid a not thin/fit person be made welcome in these spaces thing," but I am too busy sweating into my computer chair to get that sorted.

So I am going to do Day 1 and Day 3 until I don't feel like dry-heaving at the end. Maybe then I will consider adding mileage and longer intervals. April is fighting back, but I think I can take it.