The last time I informed you of my journey into becoming a runner, I was a mere three weeks in to my adventure. Despite a few bumps in the road (pun intended), I am proud to say that I’ve managed to stick it out and see satisfying results on more than one level.
Shortly after I crafted that first post, I encountered a nagging pain in my left knee. I pushed through it, tried stretching it out a bit more, icing it, and then kept on going. But so did the pain—kept going, that is—until I could no longer ignore it. I was frustrated; for the first time in my life, I was making headway on the path to a healthier me, and I was being sidelined by an injury. I decided to adopt a very zen attitude toward the whole thing; I went away on women’s retreat for a long weekend where I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to run, and figured the three or so days off would be enough rest to quell the pain. Just let it be, I told myself; it will get better. Not so. I returned from the weekend determined to get back on the treadmill, but even standing in place had me dealing with a constant, throbbing pain. After a visit to the dr. and a round of x-rays, no major injury was found—a victory! The dr. advised that I take another week to ten days off (A week to ten days?! Aw man! So much for the victory…) and then if I was still having pain, I should come back for an MRI.
During the time of enforced rest, I began to read up more on the mechanics of running. I read advice columns, health magazine articles, and collected wisdom from fellow runners. One friend advised that I not run every day, especially since I was only training for a 5K. And I’m embarrassed to admit that the Couch to 5K program I was following did not, in fact, recommend a daily running regimen. Instead, it recommends three workouts a week to ensure health and stability. I had just decided to run every day because I thought I could. Oops—first major lesson learned: listen to the experts, because I am NOT one. Secondly, my friend suggested I get a quality pair of running shoes, and gave me the name of a local store where they would asses my stride and foot structure, then fit me into the right pair of sneakers. Second lesson learned: invest in yourself. The money is worth your health.
About a week into my rest period, I woke up on a Saturday with no pain. I walked around the house and felt nothing; jogged a few steps outside and felt great. Tentatively, I got dressed for a run and headed out. Could I do this? I was afraid I’d lost my momentum and that I’d be right back at square one, which for an impatient person like me is not the most favorable place to reside. To be on the safe side, I repeated a workout from the last weekly series of workouts I’d done before resting my knee, and to my surprise, it felt incredible to be back at it. I returned home victorious and relieved. You see, the old me would have just given up in the face of adversity. But that me is gone now—and good riddance. I much prefer this Jess anyway.
And yet, the journey is still that—a journey. It’s had its extremely difficult days and its incredibly wonderful days. As each new milestone emerges in my speed, distance, or weight loss, I feel humbled, excited and energized. To date, I’ve lost a total of 31 lbs. and can run a 5K in about 33 minutes; not extremely fast, but certainly faster than I could have done…well…ever. I have one more workout left before I’ve completed the Couch to 5K program and I’m scheduled to run my first 5K race in just three weeks. Over the weeks that I’ve strived to become a runner, I’ve gained friends who support and cheer me on and have even helped encourage others to begin their own running adventures. But most of all, I’ve gained stamina and self-esteem. I still consider myself a work in progress; and it is, in fact, work. But recently I saw a quote that said, “Nothing worth doing ever came easy.” And being a healthier me for my family? That’s certainly worth doing.