I’ve played soccer since I was about 7 years old, and soccer is a sport that involves a lot of running – sometimes up to 10 miles a game. I didn’t really mind running during games or practice because there was a purpose to it. For a long time I hated running for its own sake.
I grew up training hard for my teams, practicing daily and playing in elite tournaments with three games a day in 100-degree weather. I was surrounded by trainers, coaches, teammates, and dads that pushed me to the limit. Sometimes I broke down, but overall I pushed myself right along with them.
When I graduated college I continued to play on adult teams in the area, but these were much different. Most people had grown up playing soccer and had talent, but the point of the game had changed. It was more about fun now. For example, if it was a Saturday morning game, it wasn’t uncommon to have several team members show up with hangovers.
These teams didn’t hold practices, so it was up to me to keep myself in shape. I decided to give running a try, and when I did my first 5k I found that I really enjoyed the race culture. This was something I could get into, I thought.
Unfortunately, when I entered nursing school I had to drop out of playing soccer except in the summers. The games just didn’t work with my schedule. Along with it went my running efforts. Before I knew it, months had gone by without me running.
Eventually some friends inspired me to pick it back up again, but for the first time in my life I realized what out of shape really means. I couldn’t run a 5k. I could barely run a mile. If I tried, I hated every minute of it, and gave up. That’s when I discovered the C25k program, which is a run/walk interval that slowly increases the amount of running until you can run a straight 5k. For some reason if I was sticking to a “training program” it was OK for me to walk. It was less embarrassing that way.
The interval method works. Since I discovered it, I have allowed myself to fall out of shape many, many times – like I am now. I’m not happy about it, but I know how to fix it. I don’t always use the C25k program when starting out, but I have finally gotten to a place where I’m content to stop and walk if I need to.
My current training method when I run is to listen to my body. I allow myself to walk if one of the following happens:
- I feel like I’m going to vom
- I get sharp or very achy cramps
- I feel like I am going to fall asleep mid-stride
- I don’t think my legs are going to hold me up much longer
I would also walk if I felt like I was injured, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ll walk until I sense my body has recovered, and then I’ll run again. Eventually I’m able to run farther and walk less.
It works for me. I’ve been getting the urge to run lately, and since I’m in need of distraction from certain anxiety-inducing realities I’ve decided to throw myself back into it. I’ll be an expert 5k-er by the end of this year, just watch. Anyone with me?