What is the big attraction that running brings to the table? Until recently I was not a fan of any outdoor activity that included “breaking a sweat” as a main requirement. I was more into picnics in the park or leisurely strolls that I could enjoy at my own slow walking pace. Why bring speed into the picture, unless you are on a bike or in a car?
To be brutally honest I thought that people who were always running in the park were just out to try and impress others. Then I had the opportunity to sign up for a charity event and it was one of those times when the importance of the actual event pushed me to take action. It was a 5k run and all of the money that was raised would go to benefit victims of spousal abuse.
This was a cause that was dear to my heart because my best friend had been abused after she had her first child. I decided that I would run in her honor. This meant that I had to do my best, even though I was far from being considered an athletic individual. Curling up on the sofa with a box of bon-bons like televsion’s own “Peg Bundy” was much more in keeping with my personal style.
I had four months to transform myself from a couch potato into a foot-pumping, running machine. Luckily my friends were up to the challenge and willing to help introduce me into the world of running. I began by incorporating both walking and other regular exercise sessions into my daily schedule.
I started walking 30 minutes a day for the first week and my speed and endurance slowly began to improve. Remember that all I wanted to do was to complete the 5k run. I did not feel pressured to go out and try to set some world record. If I could honestly tell my BFF that I had done by best on her behalf then I would be extremely proud and happy.
I started working out with 5 pound weights to help strengthen and tone my muscles. I even set aside time for jumping rope. My main focus was to continue trying to walk further and faster each and every day. By the time the first month had ended I was power walking at a nice, brisk pace. Even better, my breathing and endurance were definitely showing real improvement.
The second month I began to run at a slow pace. When I got tired I would start walking. Once I substantially increased the pace and distance my feet would often hurt. This was the first time in my life that I began to experience foot pain. It became so severe that I thought about just quitting and donating some extra money instead of putting my two sore feet on the starting line.
I found out that many runners suffer from pains along the bottoms of their feet. Luckily this problem was solved when I changed to a different type of footwear that was designed to cushion and protect the feet of a serious runner.
During the third and fourth months I discovered that there is a definite joy in running. I am not a powerful runner but I believed that I could slowly and surely make it to the end of a 5k course without bowing out before the finish line.
The day of the charity run was cloudy and cold. In the past I would have found a dozen reasons not to show up but now I knew that it was doubly important for me to complete the run. I was running in honor of my BFF. I was running for a good cause. I was also running to prove to myself that I could do it! I was absolutely determined to complete the course if I had to finally crawl to the finish. I would be the speediest crawling turtle that these sponsors would ever witness.
It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. While the running was important it was the energy and “feeling of community” that made the biggest impression in my mind and heart. There were individuals who walked, ran, used their wheelchairs or pushed baby strollers along the route. I even remember watching skateboarders who came out and participated with their decked out boards. The charity made a great deal of money for victims of abuse that day but I think that my feelings of accomplishment, pride and satisfaction were the best rewards of all.