You may have noticed a little badge on the side of my blog that links to some of the "frolicking" I've been partaking in of late - namely, an online running course for women of all abilities - Up & Running.
Until my knee reconstruction nearly two years ago, "just running" was always in the too-hard-no-fun basket. Basketball was fine, as was bike riding, but running? No way! I even recall informing a former colleague that my body was "not designed" for distance running, like his - I'm too tall (nearly 6 foot), all sorts of bendy flexible, a tad knock-kneed and my legs are too long. Crazy, right?! He, and my other friends who ran, all had a lower centres of gravity and were just a bit more compact/sturdy-looking than yours truly. In any case, it's a ridiculous assertion - I'm clearly aware that the top marathon runners in the world are long and lean (that lean part is still a work in progress for me, mind you!).
It wasn't until I was told by my surgeon that I had to temporarily steer clear of sports with lots of sideways movements (e.g. basketball) that I even considered running as an exercise possibility. These instructions coincided with increased reading of some great blogs, whose authors happen to be avid and very talented runners - like Meghann and Monica.
As a result, in the last year, I've participated in a handful of fun runs (around five) - all of which (perhaps with the exception of one) I've really enjoyed. However, my training was, at best, sporadic and, at worst, non-existent. I simply relied upon the fact that in a previous life I was vaguely sporty and that I was doing a couple of group fitness classes each week and could therefore push myself to move a little faster than a walk.
To be honest, I have been pretty disappointed with my results (there's probably a reason they didn't appear on this blog...at least not with any sort of transparency!), but that's unsurprising. What did I expect? I wasn't putting in the hard work and, while I could achieve the distance, my times were slow (I think my best 5k attempt was a wee bit over 35 minutes - i.e. a slow jog the entire way). I realise that this may represent a good time for some, but being a (then) late-20s, historically sporty person meant I had and continue to have higher expectations.
Fast forward to today - five-and-a-bit weeks into my Up & Running 5km course. I've been completing three running workouts per week (typically coupled with two strength-focused group training sessions with my friends at work), with each pushing me slightly further than the week before. I am totally in love with the amount of support I have received through the program, both from its administrators and participants. These ladies actually make you want to get out there and have a crack, in spite of the many obstacles life throws in our way.
Wanna know what else is really cool? I'm actually looking forward to my runs. For the first time in my adult working life, I'm excited for 4:00pm to roll around so I can get out of my work clothes and head out into the fresh air and spend some undisturbed time with me, myself and I. Mind you, I imagine my colleagues are less than impressed when I wander back in 35 minutes later smelling like a sewer and continuing to work!
With another few weeks remaining of the program, I have booked myself into a 5km fun run and have a clear time goal in mind that I'm working towards. The thought of this makes me simultaneously excited and nervous (What if I don't achieve my goals, in spite of all my hard work? What if I do?).
This weekend, I have another challenge - one I signed up for well before Up and Running was on the horizon and thus before establishing my 5km goals. Months ago, a girlfriend asked me to run/walk with her in the Run Melbourne 10km event. I was happy to oblige, feeling somewhat confident that my fitness abilities would be slightly higher than hers and that I could offer her the support and encouragement needed to get through the event. Since this time, she has injured herself and will not be participating and so, I'm going it alone.
I have a set run-walk plan in place and I'm just going to enjoy the atmosphere of the event - i.e. not push myself. I intend to conserve energy at the start of the race and try to complement rather than derail my 5k training. So...watch this space. I shall report back in the not too distant future and hopefully won't be caught doing something as silly as this...though you never know!