Couch to 5K: Can a Lifetime Walker Become a Runner?

For 32 years I believed I could not run.

I’m not very good at accepting the word “can’t,” but this is something I accepted with unwavering certainty, being told by my parents from a young age that it would be impossible due to my asthma.

My parents also told me things like, “We aren’t runners. We aren’t athletes. We aren’t campers.” and various other all-inclusive statements about my supposed destiny to be an overweight, neurotic, Jewish cliche. (OK, some of that has come to pass, but still…)

The interesting thing is that I don’t believe I ever had exercise-induced asthma. It was allergy-induced. And my lungs have significantly improved with age. However, as a child I refused to run in gym class, walking in at a pathetic last place in required laps. I took my “inability” to run as confirmation that I would be a terrible athlete. Having inherited the coordination of a headless chicken, I took pretty quickly to being last picked in gym class. In fact, I even hammed up my poor athleticism to assure myself that those gym class picks were due solely to poor athletic skills – not poor social skills. I was well liked enough – I just sucked at volleyball.

After high school, sports were easily avoided. In college, I stayed in shape by doing power-walk workouts at an off-campus women’s gym so the frat boys wouldn’t see me lifting five pound weights. When my first job had a mandatory baseball game, I dreaded it for weeks and found religion when I hit a grounder and got tagged out on my way to first base.

So when I started doing Pilates with a few years back with Equilibrium Pilates, I was shocked at my ability to control my body and stick to a strict workout regimen. I reached a solid intermediate level and continued through my pregnancy, after which I sort of fell off the Pilates train. But by that time I had gained self confidence in other athletic areas, buying a bicycle and retraining myself to ride after years of neglect.

I continued my basic treadmill cardio workouts, keeping my weight at a steady plateau of 10-15 lbs above the seemingly unattainable target goal.

But then, one day, I started to run.

Only for about a minute, but I realized that if I could run for a minute, why couldn’t I run for two. Taking a cue from one of those interval training articles in Oprah or Whole Living or one of those magazines, I started incorporating some running into my work outs. I’m currently up to 3 minute intervals and I’ve decided to keep up the training, with the goal being a 5K. Even if I can’t (or don’t) run the whole distance, even if I can run half of it I’d be super proud.

So this is my new healthy endeavor. Maybe shaking things up a bit will trigger some weight loss. But more important, if I can accomplish this goal, it will be a huge confidence boost and source of pride. Plus I’ll start fitting in with all those runner bloggers at the healthy living conferences. Maybe I could even become a Monster Miler! Anything is possible. 🙂

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