DIARY OF A RELUCTANT RUNNER

Week 2 of My New Running Program

This week brought lessons… and police

Pandemic fluff is real y’all. This past year I put on some weight. I’m not gonna say how much, but let’s just say that I weigh the most I’ve ever weighed outside of that one time that I was pregnant. And how disappointing is it that after a week of walking every day and two weeks of running that I have GAINED two pounds? Very. I’ll just tell myself muscle weighs more than fat, even though I am not seeing any muscles yet.

Real talk though, my second week of running was very weird, I’ll break it down for you below, but first I want to share three important things that I’ve learned so far.

Shoes matter

I wasn’t going to buy myself new shoes because good running shoes are expensive! And I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick with it. I’m a realist, I know sometimes I start new habits and drop them like a tray of cookies when I forget to use an oven mitt. And that’s ok — it’s good to try new things, and we absolutely do not have to be good at every new thing we try. In fact, we’ll only be good at like 1%. But we should keep trying new things, always. It keeps our brain young, it keeps our pets guessing, and it keeps us from boring our friends by telling the same five stories over and over.

I digress. Back to the shoes. My shins were really hurting and I knew there was going to be more suffering if I didn’t try to get some new shoes. The first thing I did was go the cheap route. I went to my favorite online thrift store and bought three different pairs of sneakers, three different brands, each one about $30. My plan was to try them out and see what worked, and then send the others back. Well, they came in and two of them didn’t fit at all. I wear a women’s size 6 and one pair was a men’s size 6.5? The other was so small I couldn’t get my foot into it. The third pair of gently used neon orange Nikes were…fine. But when I took them out, oh lordy, it felt like I was running barefoot. Maybe someday, but I am definitely not there yet!

After that, I broke down and googled “best running shoes for beginners” and fell absolutely in love with the look of these. They have a bit of a retro feel I like. There’s a running store here in town that carries them, so I figured if they didn’t work, I could return them and they could help me find some new ones. When I put them on? I knew it was a game-changer! I ran out into the yard, bounding around, hopping, and jumping. They felt so bouncy! My first jog with them was a pleasure. I was sold. Shoes matter. Good shoes can really make a difference.

Friends help

I managed to rope a friend into trying the challenge with me. We’ve been texting each other encouragement. Even though I know I’m gonna go, just texting my friend that I’m going to try to go for a jog later really helps to hold me accountable. And knowing she’s doing it too is great motivation. Hopefully, we can jog together soon, but we haven’t been able to coordinate yet. I’m looking forward to that.

I know that there are forums and groups, but for me, just having a close friend that I can shoot a message to is enough. I need someone I can just complain to and share little wins and failures. For me, online groups can be hard, it’s not always helpful to hear about other people crushing it because then I wonder what’s wrong with me. This time I’m taking it slow. I might have to repeat week one three times, maybe five times, I don’t care. As long as I’m doing it.

Running actually makes you high

So we’ve all heard of the “runners high” right? Well, there’s some new research out this week that got me pretty excited. Turns out the high you are experiencing isn’t from endorphins like we always thought! It’s from endocannabinoids, the receptors in our brain that marijuana activates. This is one of the reasons people often argue that marijuana is a gentle and less harmful drug, because it connects to receptors that are already present in the brain, instead of dysregulating our systems like caffeine or alcohol. This new study shows that it's not just weed that makes you high — running does too!

I can definitely attest to this so far. I haven’t experienced it during a run, but after I get home, I feel so great. Even now when I am only running one minute at a time, after I get home, stretch and have a shower, I just feel really mellow and energized at the same time. And that good feeling lasts. Oddly enough, weed makes me anxious. So maybe running is the right amount of cannabinoids for me. One of my favorite podcast hosts said the same thing. I find it all pretty interesting. And another reason to keep going.

So here’s how my week ended up!

MONDAY

3112 steps — today was the tiniest bit better. I ran the first three runs, still didn’t complete the whole circuit, but that is an improvement in stamina. I was still sore, but not quite as bad. Only a slight improvement, but I could tell. I kept trying to remember that the articles I’ve read said you have to warm up the muscles, and as long as it’s not sharp pains, it’s ok. the pain I feel is definitely just muscle cramps and fatigue, so I don’t think I need to worry about it. I’m just gonna keep on going.

TUESDAY

5400 steps — went for a walk with my friend. Got my new shoes today and they are AWESOME. I took them outside and tried just jumping around doing some drills and playing, then took them for this long-ass walk. They held up wonderfully, didn’t pinch or do anything weird, I didn’t even want to take them off! So comfy. I think these should really help my shins and possibly give me a little more stamina. Actually looking forward to tomorrow’s run so I can try them out!

Also, last night I found a cute YouTube series of this woman doing c25k, although it seems harder than the program I’m doing. She’s clearly in better shape. Still a middle-aged, non-runner, but she had no problems doing the runs. Anyway, it’s a fun series, I watched a couple of episodes last night. I also think that I will do a lot better if I can manage to get more sleep. Reading horror novels before bed is not the best idea, but they are my favorite thing to read right now.

WEDNESDAY

A huge bonus of taking up this running routine is that I got my period yesterday and had almost no symptoms! In fact, I was in a great mood and had plenty of energy, which is very unusual for the day before. I’m a little tired today, but still feel pretty good. I’m going to put off my run until tomorrow, though. I’ve got so much work to do, I need to get caught up, and I need to take a little rest day. That’s ok, considering I took a really long walk yesterday too. Uh-oh — I just looked at the forecast though and it looks like rain every day for the next week. Yikes. I’m gonna have to push on through.

THURSDAY

So, I felt pretty crummy yesterday and decided that I would just rest. But today I’m not feeling a whole lot better. it’s also raining. I’m not sure what to do! I really don’t want to miss too many days in a row. Maybe I could just go for a quick jog and then shower.

3600 steps — I managed to do a run even though I was feeling pretty tired. I’m proud of myself for getting out there.

But it was harrowing at the end because as I circled back I saw that our neighborhood was cordoned off and swarming with police! Apparently, someone was shot. There were news crews setting up and a helicopter flying over. It was very scary and definitely shook me up for the rest of the day.

As far as my jog, I did the first three of the running parts and then had to walk the rest of the way. My calves are STILL too sore, but the shoes felt really great, and I definitely felt a little better. They were just so incredibly tight by the last one. I need to keep trying to strengthen. My shins didn’t hurt which is a win, just my calves. I think that’s from the shoes, they definitely feel different! Much bouncier.

FRIDAY

didn’t run, but an update on the shooting — turns out the police shot someone. What a surprise. I still don’t know the details, but it’s really ruined the past couple of days. I’m feeling pretty shook up.

SATURDAY

6000 steps — I was considering doing a third run this week, but instead went for a hike with a friend. It was good, but I don’t think that I should replace my runs with hikes. Even though it is good exercise, it’s just not the same muscles. Also, now I’m behind on my program. Next week will be better.

Psychologist and Human mood ring.

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