Sign up for a 10K? Are you nuts?

Yes, I think I am. Last night I joined the first session of an eight week running club with friends and acquaintances from my church. I have been jogging for a long time, but I’ve never run with a group, let alone compete in a race.

You see, competition makes me nervous. I hyperventilated on the days when we were playing baseball in middle-school phys.ed class and I knew I would be the last to be picked. Everybody knew I was a terrible athlete: slow, uncoordinated, and resigned to the fact that I would drop the ball. I still can’t even skate. I might also be the only person who’s forgotten how to ride a bike.

So when I grew up and wanted to include some exercise in my life, I chose running. It’s not a team sport, I reasoned, so nobody cares how fast I go. Nobody’s depending on me to win. I don’t have to talk to or keep up with anybody, because I’m doing it alone—good thing too, cause I have to conserve my energy to push those leaden feet along. It burns a ton of calories and gets me out into the fresh air. The only expense is a good pair of shoes and athletic clothing.

But I’ve never pushed myself much. And once in a while, pushing yourself is good. This year, I’ve self-published a book, (it launches on October 8), and I figured, why not extend that stretching experience to something physical?

With that in mind, I arrived last night to find several novice walker/runners and a couple of more advanced people who participated in a devotional encouraging us to replace our tendency to complain with an attitude of gratefulness—the first training session that followed was an opportunity to put this new philosophy into practice for the beginners.

It seemed counter-intuitive to me to start over with an alternating walk/run…I’ve been doing five-K three or four times per week for 13 years, but I’ve never advanced beyond that.  As I get older, I’m getting slower. The leader suggested that spurts of running combined with walking will actually help improve my time.

“It’ll just be easier for you than for the beginners,” she said.

I gave her a doubtful look, comparing my chubby thighs to her skinny ones and thought, “She looks like a gazelle—are people skinny because they run, or do they run because they’re skinny?”

Anyway, we finished the first training session and I took the 10K training page home with me. I started this morning. Ten minute runs, alternating with one-minute walks for three kilometres. That’s still less distance than I’m used to running, but frankly, because of the travelling lunges the leader made us do last night, I was grateful. My quads feel like thick chunks of un-stretchable vulcanized rubber under my skin.

I hate lunges. Lunges are evil. (That’s not a complaint, it’s an observation.)

Right now I’m doing five-K in about 50 minutes. I’d like to improve that time by at least 10 or 15 minutes. And if I can complete a 10K by the end of eight weeks, so much the better.

I’ll check in once a week, and let you know how it’s going.

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