Friday, September 11, 2015

Why I Hate Running (but Barley and I are doing C25K anyway)

I've never liked running. When I was a kid, my parents used to make my siblings and I run in the Super Dolphin Day Race. My dad would "train" with us for the one-mile fun run and I hated every single reminder he gave us about pacing ourselves and conserving our energy. I hated the spaghetti dinner my elementary school had the night before the race (I hated--and still hate--tomato sauce almost as much as running). Getting up early to get to the starting line was equally bad. The only part I liked was when the finish line would come into sight and Dad would tell us we could sprint to the end.
And maybe I kind of loved the awesome t-shirts that were way too big for me.

My feelings about running haven't changed one bit as I've entered adulthood. I still prefer sprinting to anything that requires endurance. I'm not patient enough to think long-term about running--I just want to get it over with as quickly as I started it. 

On top of just finding the act of running boring, it's also something that's always been painful for me. My entire life, I've had terrible knees. I have very vivid of memories of sitting in the doctor's office for my knees as a very small child. My knees were always twisting when I was little--whether I was romping in the yard with the dog or running the bases in softball--and they just got worse as I got older. I was constantly wearing different knee braces to try to keep my knee cap in place when I moved and the doctor said it was just growing pains most girls experienced. By my freshman year of high school, my right knee was popping almost every time I moved. I had surgery during spring break that year that helped loosen the outer ligament that was so tight it was pulling my knee cap out of place regularly. I only had one knee done because it was the worst one, but both of them have always had problems. The x-rays showed little "tumors" of scar tissue from where there had been tiny tears during all of my childhood knee injuries, so while the surgery made it possible to walk normally, excessive use still causes pain and swelling.

Despite all of this, I've decided that Barley and I should give this whole running thing a whirl. 

Running makes us look weird.

Mostly, I decided we should do this for me. For one, my baby brother is getting married in a few months and I don't want to be the flabby one in all of the family pictures. I've been working on some strength training (which surprisingly I love) all summer and have gotten rid of the tricep jiggle just in time for having to write on the board again in class.

I also had a bit of an eye opening experience at my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary this summer. My grandparents are old and achy, but they're in their mid-80s, so that didn't surprise me. But my aunts are also getting achy and it's clear that moving is difficult for them. I've always told my mom that I'd rather just kick the bucket in my 50s than live to be in my 80s and have trouble moving (she always gets really mad when I say this, but it's totally true)--but my aunts are in their 50s and sitting is pain, standing is painful, walking is almost impossible in some cases. I realized that being affected by joint pain in a way that severely limits my life might not be 5 decades down the road--it might only be 2, especially since I've known for years that I already have arthritis in my wrists and back. My family's got roots in Wisconsin and we love our cheese curds (heck, I just love cheese in general) and I throughly enjoy a good meal.

Like this mashed potato pizza my sister was nice enough to let me try a bite of!

Or the s'mores sundae I ate the next day (let's focus on how great my legs look instead)

And let's not forget the liquid meals. 

There are very few of us in the family that couldn't stand to lose a few pounds--and that's even more important for joint health, which easy to remember when it comes to Barley and not as easy when it comes to myself. While I spent time with my family, it occurred to me that my future might be less limited if I started making a few changes now. Those changes certainly weren't going to come from totally cutting out all of the yummy foods I enjoy or the lucky beer (or two) that I drink while I watch the Pirates to send them good vibes, so that meant I had to start exercising again.

My strength training and yoga dvds have been a great start, especially for toning and keeping the muscles that protect my joints strong, but I knew I needed to do something that helps burn a few more calories. Since gym memberships are expensive and I know I'd feel guilty going to the gym while Barley was alone in her crate, running seemed like the best option since we could do it together. Plus, Barley has always struggled with maintaining weight--which is a mystery to me since her food portions were consistent (and then cut back and then cut back again) and we walk an average of 3-5 miles a day--so adding a little more intensity to her life could only help with that.

I literally haven't run a full mile since elementary school, so I knew I couldn't just dive into running. For a few days, I just tried running until I got tired of it and needed to walk, but I found that even if I wasn't physically tired, I was bored with it and I didn't get very far. I knew several of my college friends and my dad had used the Couch to 5k app, so I downloaded it and we've done the first week of workouts (although the heat made it take us a little longer than a week to get them all in--the abominable snow pup is not made for warm runs). 

So far, I think we both hate running. Barley seems to enjoy it at first, but once she realizes we're not heading towards a jump or chasing an animal, she doesn't seem to see the point (and I'm right there with her--why do people think this is so fun?!). 

Despite the fact that neither one of us can get very excited about running, we're definitely seeing some benefits, especially for Barley, already. The intervals are getting her used to me changing pace--you might remember she went through a phase where she'd start nipping at me in agility class every time I ran and sometimes that herding monster still makes an appearance--and even though she's always been very good at staying focused on me and watching me for changes in direction and other cues, she's starting to be even better about it. I'm still not crazy about the idea of running where other people can see us, so we change directions a lot to use a quiet area of the park without just running back and forth the whole time. She's starting to need fewer verbal signals to know what I want from her when it's time to turn or when it's time to go from walking to running, which can only help us as we work on using fewer words on the agility course.

Barley's smiling because it's over--not because it happened.

At least we have a pretty place to run.

I don't know if we'll make it through the whole C25k program or not. So far, it seems manageable and beneficial, but I don't know if I can ever bring myself to want to spend that much time running--interspersing it with walking is ok, but running 3+ miles all at once seems dreadful, so I don't know that I have the desire to work up to that. I also don't know if my knees will let me work up to that. With these short bursts of running, they've been a little achy, but not any worse than when we do a intense hike, so we'll see how that goes. Right now, I'm just hoping that eventually I can run a full mile without stopping one day.

3 "runs" down--who knows how many more to go
So far, it's been an interesting adventure, so next week we'll talk about some of the challenges we've encountered and some of the solutions we've come up with to make things easier for both of us. Send us positive thoughts that we'll be able to stick with this--even if there's little hope for ever loving it.


24 comments:

  1. Well, you know we are big fans of running so we're happy to hear you've taken it up. There are lots of benefits, so we hope you can stick with it!

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    1. I try to run through your lists of all the benefits during my last few intervals when I'm asking myself why I thought this was a good idea ;)

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  2. Best of luck with your running. I would think that with all the walking you do that would help you from being creaky. My dad will be 86 next week and is still very active. True he has good genes, but he also rides a stationary bike and does stretching (with a trainer) to help him from getting creaky. He swears by the stretching.

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    1. The walking definitely helps with being creaky--there are some days where I have to have Bar hop on the bed because I can't bend over to clip her leash on (although those have been few and far between--thankfully--since we started having a yearly mileage goal the past couple years), but my knees are so bad from all of the years of minor injuries that things rub in ways they shouldn't and create all kinds of inflammation even if we are doing more low impact stuff. I'm glad to hear that your dad's still able to stay so active! My grandpa is still pretty active for his age despite having to have his ankle fused a few years ago, so I'm hoping if I start making some little changes now I can be more like him when I reach that age!

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  3. My mom loves to run, and running with a dog is just the best ever! We've all run with her, right now Bailie is the running dog. For us, finding a form of exercise we enjoy is the key. Running, walking, hiking are all things we love. Mom dislikes biking and roller blading, so none of those sports here. We hope you can come to like running, but if not, maybe swimming or biking would be more fun for you. If you don't enjoy it, it is hard to stick with it.

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    1. I quit biking before I quit running as a kid ;) Exercising is just not something I enjoy--even the strength training that I do enjoy doing isn't something that I miss if I skip a few days. Hiking and walking are the exceptions because they don't feel like exercise--we're out there watching the birds or enjoying the flowers and the lake, so the exercise is just something we have to do get to those places and doesn't seem like a chore. That's why I need activities I can do with Barley, though, because if she didn't need regular walks, I wouldn't take them either.

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  4. I love running, especially with the dogs! We all get our running fix when we do our agility!

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    1. We like running in agility, too, since it's just short little amounts of time and there's actually a goal to think about rather than just running.

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  5. Have you heard of run-walking? It's a great (and legitimate) way to ease into training, and is as simple as it sounds: run x minutes or distance, walk x minutes or distance, and gradually increase the running and decrease the walking till you find a comfortable mix. I, also a less-than-enthusiastic runner, actually did a marathon (still can't believe it) by running 5 min and walking 1 min throughout (having started my training with running 1 min, walking 1 min). The reason it seems to work so well is that running and walking use different muscles, so each set gets a regular chance to rest. It might be easier on those creaky knees than a goal of straight running. Whatever you and Barley do, have fun!

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    1. That's actually exactly how the Couch to 5k app works--the first week you start out running for a minute, then walking for 90 seconds. Then the second week, you run 90 seconds, walk 2 minutes. You add on more time running each week until eventually you've worked up to a 5k. We're going to keep working through the program on until I can't add more on or we get bored with running that many minutes at a time ;) It seemed like a good way to ease Barley into running, too, since she's used to the short time periods in agility class rather than distance running.

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  6. Hurray for joining the hate-runners club! We don't have tee shirts. We're too annoyed and exhausted to make them. :P
    I prefer sprinting, and interesting, exercise, too. I blame doing ballet for most of my young life--it really spoiled me for the monotony of running.

    As much as I still find running boring, tedious, and stupid, I *am* getting better at it, even though I let Nala stop and sniff whenever she wants. And since she gets to sniff whenever, she hates it much less than Barley does (your descriptions of her enmity toward running cracked me up, by the way). Besides, having to come to a screeching halt to avoid killing myself by tripping over the dog has added a certain element of excitement and danger to an otherwise dull activity. :P

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only member of the club! I don't mind running in agility when we have a clear goal and I can think about what crosses I need to make and how to get Barley to go where I want her to go, but running for the sake of running is painfully boring to me. Even in the 1-minute running intervals in the app, I'm looking at my watch and counting down the seconds the whole time I'm running--not because it's painful but because I don't want to be running ;) It sounds like Nala is a big helper when it comes to making running more interesting!

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  7. You guys need that running zombie app! Being chased by zombies is great motivation to run. I keep meaning to take up running for Mr. N's sake but haven't gotten round to it. I'd prefer to bike with him but I worry about him getting squished.

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    1. Haha! One of my friends uses that and it sounds fun. Maybe once we actually get used to running for more than a minute at a time we'll look into that ;) I bet Mr. N would be a great running buddy--but I probably wouldn't be able to keep up with him!

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  8. Running isn't my biggest forte, but I do like to rollerblade, do yoga, and go swimming. And I LOVE walking with my pups, which is super gentle on the joints :-)

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    1. We walk 3-5 miles a day on average, but I figured we needed to up the intensity if I want to continue to enjoy the types of food I want to eat ;) I used to rollerblade with my dog as a teenager, but I had an unfortunate meeting with a tree and Barley is far more energetic than my childhood dog ever was, so we won't be revisiting that activity!

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  9. I personally love that you are becoming a runner girl :-) And you're right, can't give up our good food and beer! Still dreaming of that pizza!!

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    1. Runner girl might be a generous term. I'm still dreaming of that pizza, too, and waiting for your next visit so we can just go order apps (so we have leftover pizza for breakfast) and a pizza to share!

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  10. I'm up to 1.75 miles now, over half way to the 5k, but I totally understand why you're not nuts about running. But I feel the same way about most exercise....it's boring. I need intellectual stimulation at all times (I'll work out on our elliptical machine in the winter, but only if I can read a book while doing so)...LOL.
    With your knees, you have every excuse NOT to run, so I admire the fact that you're trying!
    I'm running away from my age (in those dreaded 50's, but don't want to feel it!), so that's my motivation. :)
    Jan, Wag n Woof Pets

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    1. Look at you go! I'm so impressed. I agree about the intellectual stimulation--I don't mind riding the bike at my parents as long as I can do something else while I'm on it. I'm trying to run back to my age so I don't feel like a 90 year old woman by the time I'm 35 ;)

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  11. WAY TO GO!!!! You are awesome!!! I applaud you for giving running a shot, despite how you feel about it. I am not a fan of running, either, but will still do it. I recently embarked on a workout regimen (hired a personal trainer) and I'm excited about the small changes I see so far. We can be cheerleaders for each other! lol Keep up the great work, you guys!

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    1. I need all the cheerleaders I can get! I'm impressed that you got a personal trainer--I think I'd whine too much for any of them to want to keep working with me, so Barley is my trainer :)

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  12. Bahahahaha - what a funny post! I also hate running. I don't see the point unless something or someone is chasing me. Sometimes when I see someone running on the side of the road, I want to roll down my window and shout at them "YOU ARE CRAZY!". But I don't - because I figure they are runners and can probably overtake my car and give me a serious pounding. Plus, I have some level of respect for those that run and do love it. It really is about endurance. I prefer hiking. I've tried running a few times over the years (always in the dark or when absolutely no one else is around cause I look like an idiot when I run) - but it's just not that fun. Sprinting down the hall in the house though equals FUN!

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    1. We are so on the same page! Barley and I found a little side trail at the park that nobody is ever on and we just run laps on that trail to avoid having to see people because I feel like I look really awkward, too. Hiking is so much better--even if I only get half the distance in twice the time.

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