I have never been a runner. I had a complete cow of a PE teacher when I was fourteen (is there any other sort? do gym teachers start as bitches, or do the fourteen year old girls make them that way?) who couldn't believe that I couldn't run whatever distance the curriculum required. Maybe 500 m in four minutes? That sounds quite quick, maybe it was 400 m in five minutes. Whatever it was, I couldn't do it, so for the rest of the year while the rest of the class did sports or athletics, I was sent to the bottom oval with whoever was off sick and a stopwatch, and made to run around on my own until I could do it. Which I never did.
So of course I thought I wasn't sporty, or athletic. And I thought that all through school, while I was in the first school netball team, and the badminton team, and playing indoor netball and tennis and volleyball for fun. When we first started living together when I was at uni, I told my husband that I wasn't sporty, usually while I was bounding off to the gym, or even more indoor netball and outdoor netball and while I kicked his cute Australian butt at squash, and tennis. Athletic just wasn't who I was - I was the fat, lazy, uncoordinated one who didn't like physical activity.
Anyway, eventually I got over it, after being pregnant and then especially after having chemo, when you really can't move around, and you realise how much you miss it. And I now know that actually, in reality, I have to be fairly active or I go a little bit loopy. So I've joined gyms and done long walks and taking up swimming ... but running has always been the one thing that I simply cannot do. I have tried and failed several times over the years to establish a basic level of jogging fitness.
So, in February I realised I had to put some exercise regime in place. I had given up the smelly and shabby gym but really didn't feel like finding a new one; by definition it needed to be a bit more upmarket so I was looking at hundreds or more probably thousands of dollars for a new membership. Swimming was lovely but really not cutting it on the fitness front. Good for mobility, but not making me puff. So I bit the bullet and downloaded the couch to 5 k app onto the phone. And I quite liked it was only $2.49.
The app is quite simple - a 9 week program (if you do three sessions a week, it took me a bit longer because some weeks I only managed two sessions). You start off walking, then running for a minute, then three minutes, then even longer with less walking intervals until, at the end, you are running for 30 minutes. I have my phone with earbuds, and the little voice tells you when to run and when to stop, and the app tracks where you go with GPS.
I did not think it would work, at least not with me, and week 1 just about killed me, but I carefully did everything it said from the beginning to the end. It hurt and it made me puff and I hated it. But guess what? It worked. Roll me in nuts and call me a golden gaytime, who would ever have thought it. A couple of months ago I registered in the Mother's Day Classic 5km run to give me something to work towards, and I did it on Sunday. I had already run the course the week before to make sure I could do it, so the run itself was no problem, but the weather was appalling. Windy and freezing!!!
And it's much less fun running squashed up with thousands of random strangers (most of whom started walking about ten minutes in! Slackers) than on your own. So I might not take up racing any time soon, but I did it, 37 minutes without stopping. Yay for me.
And now I have downloaded the 5 to 10 km app, which starts you on short intervals of faster running during a steady jog. Just a minute, then three minutes, and on it goes. At the end you run for an hour. That will NEVER happen, week 1 is just about killing me, but I am going to carefully do everything it says...