Who knew less could take so much more?

Rich (my much-adored husband, coach, running partner, and arguably the most tolerant person I know) and I started our Half-Marathon Magical Mystery Training Tour this morning.

Over the weekend we decided that as the more experienced runner (he started running Cross Country in high school thirty years ago) he would take charge of ‘designing’ our training plan. He knows my experience, capabilities, and yes even my weak points that need working on (h-i-l-l-s); he has the experience of being a runner; and frankly I didn’t want to be responsible for figuring everything out.

For my part, I’m in charge of nutrition/diet planning. As a female who went through puberty after Twiggy but before Emme, I know from dieting! Granted most of what I’ve done in the name of “dieting” in the past was everything but healthy, but I know how to count calories, measure portions, and distinguish complex vs simple carbs without even looking! Add to that having found a really great Runner’s Diet Book and being raised by a mother who followed the Adelle Davis movement in the 70s, and I’ve got the tools for this job.

Rich has put together a training program that will have us ready for our first Half-Marathon within the ten weeks from now ’til March 18th when the run takes place.
I have put together an eating plan (I despise the word diet – everything we eat is a “diet” it’s just a question of what kind of work it does for us, not whether it does work for us.

The eating part? That’s a breeze for me. As I said before, I’ve done my time in Diet Land so the idea of radically changing what and how I eat is no big deal for me.

And really the actual running part is no longer a challenge for me.
I now love . . . okay that’s a little strong . . . I am now at a point in my running where I can: A) Run more than two miles before developing a stitch in my side; B) Start running again after having had a stitch in my side come and go; and C) Really want to do it again every time. I now enjoy running. And I’ve even been In The Zone a couple times, not just running around The Zone’s perimeter watching other people enjoying being in there.

I was all set to lace up my Asics and pound out a good three, maybe four miles on the treadmill in oh, say forty-five minutes or so before leaving the gym bathed in sweat and basking in the glow of Accomplishment! I was ready to Get. It!
Until I asked what this morning’s run was and Rich says “Today we’re doingthirty minutes at a comfortable pace in 4:1 run:walk intervals.”
“What? That’s it? I’m supposed to run for four minutes and stop and walk?!”
“Yes. You want to put the walk interval in before you get fatigued.”
“This is how we’re doing this.”


This is actually somewhat amusing, especially if you know my ‘history’ with diet, exercise, and New Year’s Resolutions. If this next part were an episode of Friends it would be called “The one where Monica becomes what she has always dreaded facing…” or somthing like that.

As we were driving to the gym at 5 am I not only thought inside my head, but made the following statement outside my head: I really hope the gym isn’t packed with New Year’s Resolution People! We’ve been coming here all year long, we should have first pick of the treadmills! There needs to be a hierarchy!
*blinks again*
I can’t believe I actually thought that, let alone saying it!
Here’s the backstory . . .

This is my forty-seventh New Year’s and I’ve probably been making New Year’s Resolutions since I was ten or eleven years old. That’s roughly thirty six years worth of NYRs. I am willing to lay odds that out of those thirty-six sets of NYRs easily twenty-four of them had some element of weight loss, diet, “Healthier Lifestyle”, and/or exercise in them. If I had a dollar for every gym membership I’ve signed up for I would probably have a good $15.00 in hand this minute. If I had some magic refund on every month’s worth of memberships I never so much as used I could probably walk across the hall to my boss’ office, quit my job on the spot, not work again for the rest of the year, and still come out ahead. Seriously. I have wasted a lot of money on unused gym memberships.
More like ‘gently used’ gym memberships.
Because they got used in January! And generally got used-ish in February, right up til shortly after my birthday (the 21st, mark your calendars… j/k), but once I got past whatever age milestone it was I was facing, and once the weather got nice and I got busy with other things Ye Old Gyme Membershippe languished away. Paid for every month thanks to the convenient “automatic transfer/debit” all gym memberships require, until one day that $15 or $20 magically stopped leaving my checking account and the membership lapsed. Generally right in time to pay another “processing fee” and renew that membership or move on to the Bigger, Better, More Conveniently Located Near You! gym that had just opened.
I did that.
A lot.
Quit my job and don’t work all year a lot.

I told you that story to tell you this one (credit to Ron White for that line): Every year when I would march my Newly Yearly Resolvedly ample(r) behind down to Ye Olde Gymnasium and Healthatorium (I swear if I ever open a gym that’s what I’m calling it) to “start changing my life!” my single greatest dread was: The Regular Gym People. The ones who would glare at me as I studied the diagrams on a particular piece of equipment trying to figure out what it did and how to use it. The people who would ask, as I stood there puzzling over the space shuttle programming console of yet another new-and-improved treadmill, “Are you going to use that machine?”
I understood that they ate, slept, and breathed being In The Gym. It was readily apparent by their Adonis and Aphrodite like physiques. I got it. And I wasn’t really there to inconvenience them, but if they would just be a little patient, maybe offer some assistance, I’d get my little housewife workout done and be out of their way/domain/lair.

So now, I’m sure you understand my shock (and a bit of dismay) when I heard that whole “I really hope the gym isn’t packed with New Year’s Resolution People!” thing coming out of my own mouth.
End Sidebar

We got to the gym and, as Rich had predicted, there were a few new people, but we had our choice of treadmills. It was, after all, 5 am.

We pick our treadmills, stretch, and get started.
I did a quick two minute warm-up walk and it was time to run. So run I did! Remembering the phrase “comfortable pace” I set the speed for 4.6 mph. I bumped the incline to 1.0 to offer a little bit of a challenge and off I went.
And it felt gooood!
Oh, a little rusty to be sure, but good nonetheless.

So I’m running along and out of the corner of my eye I see Rich walking. My first thought was “Oh crap! His knee is acting up again!” but then I remembered “4:1 run:walk intervals”
I check the timer. 9:18.
Crap again!
I forgot to walk!
So I slowed the pace down a full mph and Walked One Minute. Mostly. 57 seconds counts, right?
Another five minutes and I remembered that I’d forgot to remember to walk again.
So I slow down again for One Minute, all of it this time.
I did this another two or three times repeating my mantra of “We’re just getting back into this after nearly a solid month off.” And “Remember, you’ll be doing this for THIRTEEN POINT ONE MILES, not just a 5k” And my personal favorite “Rich is the Coach, I’m the Nutritionist.”
Just as I’m coming up to my last minute Rich says “Push it!” I bumped the speed up to 5.6 for about ten seconds then jammed it up to 6.4 and held that for a full thirty seconds.
Feet pounding with conviction and authority on the treadmill.
I glanced up at the plateglass window ahead of me and caught the reflection of an older man on the elliptical behind me looking at me with a look of either surprise or admiration. I chose to take it as admiration and kept pounding away but with a decidedly lighter lilt to my pounding footsteps.
After that was a five minute cooldown, stretching, and home to have our post-run snack, pack breakfast, snacks, and lunch. It is AMAZING the sheer amount of food you consume when you’re working at losing weight the healthy way!

So, we’re back at it.
Our workout schedule will look like this:
Monday: Yoga and Core Work
Tuesday: Short runs at a comfortable pace on treadmills until Spring
Wednesday: Strength training (mostly upper body)
Thursday: Short runs at a comfortable pace on treadmills until Spring
Friday: Strength training (mostly upper body)
Saturday: Distance runs outside weather notwithstanding (increase distance every week)

This is totally doable.
That’s what I’m told!

Thanks for your encouragement!

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