Posted by: jawsome | September 21, 2008

Accomplishments and Goals

When I decided to start getting healthy, I wanted to set some goals for myself. Far from wanting to run a marathon, I just wanted to be able to run a few miles without stopping, and lose a few pounds.  When I started about 2.5 months ago, I weighed 155lbs (I’m 5’7″) and couldn’t even run a full mile. Fortunately, I had a few things on my side to help me out. First, because Matt and I decided to get healthy together, I didn’t have to worry about him macking down on cheeseburgers while I ate a chicken salad. Also, because he’s not as emotionally attached to food as I am, he could help me turn down that piece of cheesecake and offer raspberries instead.  Thanks Matt, you’ve been great!  Also, I happen to own a treadmill. While working out on a treadmill is about as excited as watching yourself grow older, it helped save my self esteem on those first few runs where I could only go 5 minutes at a stretch. Now I only use my treadmill for short incline work or evenings on days when I haven’t had a chance to work out (for safety). Finally, I am blessed to live in glorious Santa Barbara – home to fabulous weather and fantastic open spaces for running.  I have an aversion to running on the road (guys: don’t holler at girls running on the street – seriously), so local running spots like More Mesa have saved me from burnout.

My first goal was to be able to run a 5k without stopping. More Mesa provides the perfect training ground for this, as a figure 8 loop of the Mesa is 3.4 miles. I started running with my dog, Japhy, who was also looking a little out of shape. The first run we did, I had to wait for him!  At first, I stopped at the .5 mile mark, the 1.o mile mark, the 1.5 mile mark, the 2.2 mile mark, and the 3 mile mark. I learned from running guru Jeff Galloway that walking is not shameful – in fact, if you’re out of shape it will help you run longer without injury.

I kept it up – running 4 times per week – the first time it took me 1 hour to run the whole circuit. I walked, and sweated, and panted, a lot. I was getting passed by 70 year old men. Don’t knock the old timers, they have more time to train! On numerous occasions I wished there was a drinking fountain on that mesa – I even thought of stashing a water bottle up there!  After about a month and a half, I started cutting out the stops. I stopped at the .5 mile mark, but then kept going to the 1.5 mile mark before stopping. After a few more efforts, I was only stopping at the .5 mile mark to stretch (due to overly tight hammies).

During this time, I relied heavily on my iPod to get through my workouts. Without Eminem screaming curse words at me, my as yet underdeveloped inner voice would take over and I would quit. I’ve heard a lot about listening to your body while running instead of music, but I wasn’t able to. Yet.

Eventually, I thought maybe I could run with other people to keep my spirits up during my runs. I looked around online, but all I found were running clubs that ran 8-12 miles per run at 8 minute mile pace. Ha! I couldn’t even run one 8 minute mile – more or less 12 of them!  After a 5k attempt the previous year (no training, lots of walking, 33 minute finish time), a group of friends and I thought we should form a running club – we would call it “Smooth Moves” as a joking parody of the local “Nite Moves” races. I wasn’t ready at that time to pay $300 to torture myself on a 5k uphill run every week.  We never got our group together.  But now, I was running almost the whole More Mesa loop without stopping. I thought I might be able to run with others without embarrassing myself. I decided to resurrect Smooth Moves.

I sent out an e-mail to likely candidates Shaun, Sarah, Mark, Christina, Andy, and Shihwe. Last Thursday, Smooth Moves had its inaugural running. We did it! I found that running with others is a great way to get that extra boost of support when you need it. In spite of Shaun schooling us by ducking out mid-run to gallop down the cliff stairs to the beach and back – and then proceed to catch and beat all of us – we had a great time. Hopefully, Smooth Moves will continue running long into the future.

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