Health & Fitness.

Thoughts on Running from the Non-Runner

I don’t listen to music when I run. I don’t have a running partner to talk to. It’s just me inside my own head for mile on top of mile. MrZ swears that he can’t run without his iPod because he gets “bored.” I explain to him that spending an hour or more alone in my head is one of the perks of my long runs. A luxury I don’t have in my daily life: time with myself. I use this time to map out personal goals, ponder the universe, contemplate the meaning of life, and to write introspective blog entries to bore my readers with. This is one that I composed during my 10-mile run on Saturday.

There are three elements that come into play when I’m planning for my Sunday long runs. The first is Physical: Bones, Muscles, and Joints. This is the least inhibiting of the three, if you can believe it. See – when you run as slow as I do (my distance running pace is 12+ minutes/mile), and have as short of a stride, the impact of running isn’t much more on my body than walking would be. My joints and muscles don’t hurt any more by running than they would by walking. Some call it slow, I call it BRILLIANT.

The second element is Endurance: Heart and Lungs. Ten years of unhealthy lifestyle choices (I was in college!) made my heart and lungs a little slow to catch up with my muscles and joints. This would be the second toughest hurdle in my training. Even though I run slow, I can’t carry on conversation without having a heart attack. When I get to my walk/water stops – I sound like I’ve been sprinting based on my heavy breathing. I have learned to breathe slow and steady – which helps immensely – but it’s still a very limiting factor in my distance running.

This most debilitating element in my training is Psychological: The Mind. When I started considering training for a marathon, I just assumed that somewhere along the way I’d become a Runner. I knew that there was no way that Zoot, in her current version, could run a marathon. So – during the training, surely Zoot would trade in her Diet Coke for Gatorade and the transformation would be complete.

The fact that this has not happened yet? Makes me question my abilities. With each long run, I think to myself – “I can’t do that. I’m not a runner.”

I am slowly learning that I don’t have to become someone different in order to be running. I don’t have to trade in my TV Guide for Women’s Health. I don’t have to switch my Krispy Kremes for granola. I can still come home from a mid-week short run and veg on the couch for the next three hours watching crappy television. I’m learning that someone who has a TV blog can still run.

I’m sure that if I changed those other aspects of my life I could be a better runner, but for right now? That’s not the point. The point is to just do it. I just want to get out there and be doing something good for my body. If I try to convince myself I have to make other changes, it all becomes too daunting. Knowing I can still have my cake and running shoes too, makes this change seem possible. I’m not going to win any races eating my weight in bean dip the night before, but knowing I don’t have to deprive myself of that delight, makes it easier to at least finish the race the next day.

I guess it has just been enlightening to realize that someone who eats doughnuts and hates the taste of water can run 10 miles. I’m breaking barriers here, people – I’m going run marathons for the TV addicts everywhere. Care to join me?

16 thoughts on “Thoughts on Running from the Non-Runner”

  1. I have to say, you’re inspiring me to think about starting to run. I’ve never been able to run more than a block or so without getting extremely winded, but every time I read about some breakthrough you’ve made, I think, “maybe I could do that, too.”

    Whether you think it or not, you’re a runner, and a very impressive one at that.

  2. I would love to join you. But I’m still mired in the “I could never do it” crap. That said, I can totally see what you’re saying about denying yourself the things you enjoy would only hinder any progress. I know that would definitely be true for me as well. If I thought running meant I could never eat another donut again, I’d never do it.

  3. i always get stuck at the stage where i run for a good 60 seconds and then OW. and i stop. because i am a wuss. i’ve gone farther. once i ran a 5K (what the hell was that? i have no idea).

    i would love to join you. but i need major motivation to make me do anything at all. that’s the crap part.

  4. For the first time in my life, I’m actually considering it. Good to know that a runner (because you ARE a runner – you ran 10 miles!!) can still eat yummy-but-not-good-for-you food and watch hours of TV. Now, I just need to find some time to get to the gym. Sigh.

  5. psst… I don’t really know how to tell you this… I don’t want to freak you out or anything… but you are totally a runner. No, really. You are. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how far. It doesn’t matter what gear you wear, or what you are training for… Every runner makes a commitment to go out there and put one foot in front of the other. Repeatedly. For various distances, and time intervals. No fancy running clothes or watch or pace or race or whatever does the runner’s work. You put one foot in front of the other, again and again. Through good days, bad days, and almost always scheduled around the rest of your life (so you can be home in time to prop up those runner’s legs on the couch and watch your favorite tv shows)!
    And older, wiser, “experienced” runners almost always (unless they are morons), LOOOOOVE new runners. I love the contact high from the new enthusiasm… it’s a wonderful reminder, and great inspiration to get the ass outside and put one foot in front of the other. Repeatedly. For various times and distances.
    Keep it up, you runner, you!

  6. you have totally inspired me to take up running again! I had forgotten how freeing it could be, the last time I ran, really ran was in HS, more than 10 years ago. I just started up again this weekend after reading about your record breaking run, and it has whopped my ass, but in a great way. And when I came home and ate a handful of PB M&Ms? I didn’t feel SO bad about it. Thanks for the inspriation. And eventhough you may not feel like, you totally are a runner.

  7. Please stop with the motivation! I don’t wanna do it! More, I don’t want to hope I can do it and then fail. That’s me, scared to even try. I’ve gotten as high as 10 miles, then got pregnant, so marathon has been on the back burner for 6 years. I think you are absolutely awesome.

  8. I’m very impressed with your running, and being a fellow tv addict, I’m glad to know that tv and running can be so happy together. However, I can only WALK a mile in 17 minutes, so running seems pretty out of the question for me. But getting back in shape? Yes, please!

  9. i’m impressed! i’m finally up to 1/4 mile without feeling like i’m going to die. baby steps, hehee. πŸ˜‰

  10. Again, thanks for this inspiring post. I SO let my mind get the best of me: “why even try, I’m not a runner, I can’t do that.” Got to stop that. πŸ™‚ We can do it!

  11. you are awesome, zoot!

    i’ve tried running off and on for quite a few years now and have never had the steam to keep it up. i can do all sorts of other work outs (my recent fave is Spinning), but running is still quite difficult. the endurance just isn’t there. you’re motivation is starting to wear off on me, though; tomorrow i am renewing my determination. i am going to start running again and actually keep it up this time! you may have to hold me to it, though, because history has proven that i am a slacker and can easily talk myself out of a workout/run. one day at a time, though, right?

  12. Yeah, you’re a runner.

    You may watch TV and eat donuts and drink Diet Coke, but you also do things called “long runs.” To me, anyone who makes time in their lives (with a teenager and a toddler, no less) to be out on the road enough times a week to have a schedule and things called “long runs” is a runner. My short runs are from the car to the door in the rain and my long runs are when I have to park further away. Congratulations on your accomplishments and best of luck on your new goals.

  13. You are a runner! And that is very cool. I kept telling myself similar stuff about what I could or could not do, and I only recently realized that is all crap. I can be me and be a runner too. A slow runner, and I haven’t even done 7 miles yet, but a runner all the same.

    It’s great to see you making so much progress, and so quickly too.

Leave a Reply