I don’t do cardio. This was my motto for a very long time.
The other day at the rock climbing gym, a man asked me what type of training I did. He said, “Weightlifter? Because you’re not built like a runner.” I suppose he stereotypically meant that I Iooked muscular, and not long and lean like a runner. I wanted to explain to him that, yes, I was indeed a runner. Not a great one, but dang it, I was a runner!
Since late last October, when I bought my Garmin watch, I have ran 163.95 miles (which includes a 6 week ankle sprain recovery). This isn’t impressive to real “runners.” But for me, it’s actually quite amazing considering that the cumulative mileage in the last several months, surpasses the miles ran in the preceding 20 years. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say this.
When I started CrossFit in 2008, I was told by Brady, my coach, “There isn’t much running.” I was relieved. What I didn’t realize is that from a runners perspective there is “very little” running. From my perspective, however, 400’s during 3 rounds of a WOD seemed like plenty of running! I’d like to say that I sucked it up in silence when a running wod came around, but I didn’t. I complained mercilessly. I should apologize for all of the dirty looks I threw his direction when I walked in and saw any sort of run on the white board.
Running any distance came hard for me because before CrossFit, I didn’t run. At all. Never. Ever. My cardio consisted of the Step Mill, the Elliptical (Epi-Glider as my dear friend says. Inside joke), and walking at an incline on the treadmill. In all honesty, I preferred to lift weights exclusively and skip my cardio whenever possible. Once in a blue moon, Cari would try to get me to run around the parking lot at our gym. I refused to run the entire way. I’d agree to run the straights and walk the corners! We still laugh about this.
But as things have a way of changing and evolving, I decided that running was something that I should try to get better at instead of constantly fighting it. I was tired of having an Achilles heel. Work your weakness. A statement CrossFitters have had thrown at them many, many times by their coaches.
In comes Cari to the rescue. Or maybe rescue is the wrong word. Support, encouragement and patience may more clearly define what my workout partner contributed to my becoming a runner “of sorts.”
We started running. Not very far. Not very fast. I got better. It became easier. I set goals of how many miles I wanted to run each week in addition to CrossFit. She ran with me every step. Sometimes I complained, sometimes I begged to stop. She’d say, “Just a little farther” or “let’s just slow down a bit.” I began to gain confidence. And after a few months, I uttered the words, “I don’t hate it anymore.”
I began to run on my own at times. By choice no less! Imagine that. I ran a few 5K races and one 10K. It was a big accomplishment. Did I set any speed records? Heck no. I’ll tell you that my best 5K was 27:05. If you run, you know that I am not fast. That doesn’t matter to me. The fact that I am doing something that has come so hard for me is as great thing.
By late winter this year, Cari began training for her first marathon after running a few half’s. I got to tag along on during some of her training runs. I worked up to running 7 miles a few times and then did 8, which is my longest run to date. I was very proud of this. So proud, I thought “maybe I could do a half…”
Well, as with lots of great plans, this one hasn’t come to fruition. Instead, schedules and training plans changed and I was on my own again. I didn’t do a good job of keeping up with my miles without someone to run next to. One week I just ran 3. The next week I didn’t run at all. Those weeks turned in to 3 months of running very, very little with weeks in between. Why did I let it go? I could come up with several empty excuses, but the real answer is, I didn’t make an effort to keep it up.
Today I ran 3.1 miles. It didn’t feel great. I think even my Garmin was disgusted with my performance. Every time I looked down to see my miserable pace, it was glaring back at me like a friend you’ve taken for granted for a long time and wanted back. Running isn’t forgiving. Abandon it, neglect it. . . it will remind you bitterly that this a relationship that you’d better nurture, or it will be gone. It might as well send you a text that reads “Hey lazy ass, you have to work hard to keep me. So until you put in the effort, I will make your life miserable.”
My running relationship is on rocky ground. Anyone who really knows me can attest to the fact that I don’t give up easily. I may stray from the course. But I find my way back eventually. Because I’m not a quitter.
Today I ran 3.1 miles.