Also about runningPosted: November 13, 2012
I had the weird experience of someone (PalMD) writing a blog post almost exactly identical to one kicking around in my head during a really great crack-of-dawn run. I started running (almost) daily about 3 months ago. I have been a sporadic runner before, but this is the most consistent I’ve ever been. I was also starting from probably the deepest fitness hole I’ve been in, with a BMI over 26 and some surprising cardiovascular limitations. And reaching a certain age. All of this I lay at the feet of what has been by far the busiest, scientifically one of the most productive, and in most other ways the worst year of our lives. I needed to run so I could sleep. I needed to run so I would have something to do when I woke up at 5:30. I needed the endorphins.
My first outing, I could barely run a mile. I staggered home and into our house with rubber legs, heart pounding, flushed, dizzy and gasping. Kinda like the first time Rocky tries to get up those steps. It took what felt like half an hour for my heart and lungs to return to normal. I was shaky for a while, and could barely walk downstairs the next morning. I had been playing a weekly or so squash game and was surprised how little stamina I had.
Within 2 weeks, I was at 2 miles and a half mile walk. We live in a flat area, which could be boring, but there are some nice stretches along a body of water. Now I’m at 3.5 miles and I stop just a couple blocks from home. In minutes I feel completely normal. This shocking and rapid change in cardiovascular performance was the most surprising and most satisfying thing to me. I have had the occasional twinge and stab in unfamiliar muscles (one weird one on my right butt that I had to have my yoga-expert spouse spend about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to stretch), arches, and shins, but nothing chronic and nothing that’s put me off for more than a day.
What really helped this time was trying to run right, which is where my experience really echoes PalMD’s. I got the right kind of shoes for my high arches and consciously worked on my gait, landing flatter and more distally on my foot. I shortened my stride so I didn’t land in front of my body. I used first Runtastic and now the much cleaner Strava Android apps with my phone’s GPS, which means DATA and a big motivator for improvement and not stopping (nothing worse than seeing those pathetic moments in a line graph of pace). I experimented with what music to listen to (Spoon speeds me up, Pavement slows me down) and have settled on books on tape, which make me lose track of time, and if they’re good are another motivator to run.
I immediately lost about 5 pounds (though I’m still on the wrong side of a 25 BMI), and the weight loss has plateaued, meaning I should mix in some other kinds of exercise and just maybe a diet tweak or two. Damned homeostasis. Buying a shitload of Halloween candy and then not giving any to trick or treaters did not help.