Plan #2 – Baby steps

IMG_5505A few weeks back, while at a scrapbook retreat with my girlfriends, I made a pact with myself: in November 2016, right before my 50th birthday, I am going to run a 5k.

This is a good goal. I’ve always said I wanted to be a runner! Sadly, though, the whole running thing has never really happened for me. Years back, pre-MS, Deb and I decided we were going to start running. I quit before the end of that summer, totally demoralized; she kept at it and now runs marathons. (I am extremely proud of that girl. Go, Deb!)

I’ve tried a number of running schemes before, but – to be perfectly honest – I was too out of shape to even do the “Step 1” of any of the plans. Now, though, I have the Health app that came with my iPhone. It tells me how many steps are in every mile I walk. So I broke the whole thing down: 5k = about 3 miles = about 6000 steps (according to the app). I tried a bit of jogging to see how far I could go, and discovered I could easily run for 50 steps. Yep! 50 steps. There’s nowhere to go but up!

I told myself I had to get out there and walk three times a week – either Monday or Tuesday, either Thursday or Friday, and either Saturday or Sunday – and run the assigned number of steps somewhere in that walk. That was three weeks ago, and I haven’t missed yet. Week 1: 3 days x 50 steps. Week 2: 3 days x 100 steps. Week 3: 3 days x 150 steps. Today was the first day of Week 4, and I ran for 200 steps. (I misjudged how far that would be and ended up running the last 50 steps uphill. Yikes.)

I’ve run the whole plan by my MS neurologist (Ha! Inadvertent pun!) and he’s all for it. Exercise can really wear me out, so he is glad my plan has me increasing my exertion in such small increments, but besides that, he believes that anything that makes me healthier can only help with my overall well-being. He tested my leg weakness and evaluated my walking stride yesterday; I haven’t gotten any worse since I’d last seen him, so as long as I am careful, I should be fine.

Look out, world! By the end of April, I predict I will be able to run a mile. A whole mile, people. This is unprecedented for an out-of-shape diseased person like me. And by next fall, I’ll be up to three miles. Yowza.

I need to keep my eyes peeled for a Turkey Trot going on this month so I know what race to register for next year. I’ll let you know if I find one, and you can all run it with me. It will be the ultimate 50th birthday party!

in my dreams, I can run

Best Foot Forward

I dream of being a runner.

Not just in a figurative sense, mind you. I mean that I regularly dream of running.

It’s not just that I can run in my dreams, either – it’s how I run. Quickly. Effortlessly. As though I each one of my paces sends me a tremendous distance, floating a tiny bit above the air. (My real running is nothing like this, of course. It is lumbering and breathless and, frankly, demoralizing.)

I continue to daydream of running, although my progress toward this goal is hampered by the following conundrum:

  •  I am afraid of running. Afraid that I will lose my balance and fall, that I won’t be able to go more than about 30 yards, that my left foot will scream every time it hits the ground.
  • This is not pure conjecture; in the past couple of years, I have experienced all of these things when I have tried to run.
  •  Therefore, I rarely attempt to run.
  •  And, thus, I shall never become a proficient runner.

It’s silly, I suppose, to believe that it is a hopeless case. I mean, I lose my balance while standing still, I’ve fallen over while taking a simple walk, and my foot bugs the heck out of me on a regular basis. . . and yet I still get out there and walk around every single day. Why not let the same things happen while trying to go a little faster?

I’m cognitively aware that even tiny amounts of effort will lead to incremental success in building my skill, yet I still choose not to act. Perhaps it’s silly that I cling to this dream so tenaciously while putting so little effort into achieving it.

I’m sure that most of us have dreams we are not brave enough to strive for, things that we achieve only in our deepest sleep. Running is mine; what’s yours?

Best Foot Forward” by Maureen Barlin / BY CC