A few months ago, I was finishing a work trip and, thanks to a luggage mishap, had to rush to catch my flight home. It was a small airport with only a few gates, but I remember gasping for air as I tried to reach the departure gate on time. I spent what felt like the first hour of the flight trying to catch my breath.
I’m not a runner. Really, I never have been. But a little over nine weeks ago, I wanted to prove that even non-runners can finish 5Ks. I started training for OSU’s BeWell 5k this summer with an iPhone app called Couch to 5K (This is not an endorsement for this program. Always consult your physician before starting any workout). The app (which has many, many versions) is supposed to take you from sedentary (“couch potatoe”) and train you to run a 5K in nine weeks. As someone who never finished a mile in middle school and really can’t run to save her life, I figured I was a pretty good candidate. What did I really have to lose?
I’ve been on this journey ever since. Three days a week I’ve been training. Despite the summer heat, a hectic work schedule, and a frequently sick toddler, I’ve stuck with it. The Couch to 5k app is not perfect, but for me it was attainable. It starts you slow with walk/jog intervals until you’re running the entire workout. Then it builds up the length of the run. When the going got rough, I repeated a training session. The good thing about running is that you can do it virtually anywhere at any time. I convinced my family to join me on the workouts and strapped the toddler into the stroller. Suddenly, I had a “coach,” as my two-year-old hollered “Run faster, mama. Faster!” This was only cute the first 50 times, by the way.
Now, let me be clear. Friday is still going to be a killer. A 5k might not seem like a lot to some, but to me it’s huge! I’m a sloooow runner. I decided from the beginning that I’m not racing any clocks here. I picked the BeWell 5K because I knew it would be a wonderful event, and I would be surrounded by an OSU community that would support me every step of the way. I don’t care about my “time.” I’m much more interested in keeping a steady pace and finishing the event.
I’m lucky that my dear friends and colleagues at University Housing & Dining Services have stuck with me throughout my training. Several are going to walk the 5k, which I think is just great. A few are even going to run alongside me. Even more of them have been cheering me along the last two months, checking in on my progress and encouraging me with tips and tricks in preparation. Almost every week, I mention what I’m doing to someone and it inspires someone else to join in the fun.
I only have one run left before Friday’s event. This truly has taken more commitment than I could’ve imagined. My progress has amazed me, and it has come at the hands of much sweat and perseverance but also a lot of fun and a sense of accomplishment. I have never been able to run 40 minutes straight and now I can. I do.
As I jogged around the corner entering my neighborhood tonight, I remembered another huge bonus to all this: I found a way to make time for myself. I’m challenging myself in a way that didn’t seem possible six months ago as I was boarding that airplane to head home. I can’t even imagine what I’ll feel like when it’s all done in a few days, but I know I’ve already gotten so much out of this experience.
I hope to see you all at the finish line on Friday.