'Yes, I CAN' Be A Runner

Let me start this by saying I hate exercise. I hate(d) running. And I am a really picky eater. But, I am amazing myself and finding that YES I CAN run.

Let me be honest, I am only in week 3 of Couch 2 5K…but I have never ever made it this far. The only time I worked out consistently for longer than a week in a half was in my junior year at college. So why the change? I battle anxiety and depression. This past winter/spring, it got so bad that I had to take a leave of absence from work which is in and of itself scary given that I am divorced with two kids and need to work full time.

While I was on my medical absence (paid luckily) as a part of therapy, I noticed this incredible link between my mind and my body. How just stopping and focusing on my breath could calm my head. That putting my shoulders back and opening my heart could allow me to surf really strong and bad emotions. And that, like many people, I store a lot of trauma and stress in my upper right hip but with yoga, I can work that stress out without letting it overwhelm me.

Like many of you out there, I am REALLY GOOD at being REALLY MEAN to myself. In the past, I have always exercised because I hated my body or wanted to lose weight. I have attached a lot of negative emotion when a doctor writes their canned response on my physical about exercising three times a week, or that changing my eating habits would help me. I would get very defensive, or I would push myself hard at the gym for a week…and then stop going.

I told myself I couldn’t do it. It was too hard. That if I was better I could do it. I would be a better person if I was 5, 10, 20lbs lighter.

But something changed and impulsively, I signed up for my first 5k at the end of June. It was a “mindful triathlon” which included a 5k, yoga, and meditation, sponsored by Adidas. My thought was that I would love the yoga and the meditation, and I figure I’d just struggle through the 5k. I was so out of shape, I hadn’t walked more than a mile at a decent pace. So I prepared by buying a new outfit (always important) and a hydration pack and said I’m going to walk this thing, even though I never have, and even though it was going to be sunny and 87 with 90% humidity.

I finished the entire 5K and afterward, I felt amazing. I signed up so I could do the yoga and meditation- but the 5k is what changed me. On that day, I realized how mental the walking and running thing is. I realized that if I told myself I could finish it, I could. 'Yes I can' became part of my story.

I began to think that maybe I can actually run a 5k. So three weeks ago, I started doing the Couch 2 5K.

The first interval has you running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds. I was more at a point of "run for 45 seconds and walk for 2 minutes", but I stuck with it, telling myself, 'YES I CAN do this'.

This is what strength looks like.

I’m on week 3 now and running for 3 minutes at a time which is amazing! Just three weeks ago, running for 3 minutes at a time was impossible. Not only have I signed up for my first 5k race at the end of August, but I also signed up for my first 10K race the first weekend of October.

Am I scared? Oh yeah. Do I have bad runs where I think I can’t do this? Yes, totally. But I CAN run. And I actually look forward now to my run even though it sucks while I am doing it. And you know what else? I CAN call myself a runner.

Because I am.