Friday, October 30, 2015

Dear Past Laura: Running Lessons I Wish Someone Had Thought to Tell Me

Okay, one more post in which I impart fitness wisdom. Yeah, I know you're sick of these. This is a letter to Past Laura from Current Laura, teaching the lessons CL learned by trail and error that PL never found on the internet, even though she looked for it.

Dear Past Laura,

By now, you're realizing that Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD taught you that if you're not gasping, sweating, and near collapse, you aren't actually working out. And since you're so good at her DVDs now, you're looking for a new challenge. So you've picked up running! That is really awesome. I've always wanted to be one of those running people I see from my car as I drive along, eating an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen (only 49 cents!) on my way home from work. I never thought I could because I sucked at fitness, but thanks to your hard work, you don't suck anymore! You can do 30 Day Shred, Ripped in 30, and whatever other DVDs you've tried, so you are READY for running. You have muscles. Thanks to you, I can run! That's pretty awesome. Feel proud of that.

But here's the thing: Other people aren't you. Running is easy for them, because they just have to put on shoes and go. But your body is a broken wasteland of aftermarket parts and salvaged materials. You are barely alive when you wake up in the morning. Have you SEEN you? I have. It is not a pretty sight.

You are not going to be a running success story like those blogs you read the other night. Yeah. I saw that. Not everyone is a success story right away. Not everyone becomes a marathon runner after a happy year of training. Some people never get one of those pretentious stickers for the back of their car, and that's okay! You are going to hurt yourself pretty quickly. Also you will probably not get better, because you're you. Also here are some more things you should know:
  1. Guess what? You have chronic shin splints. This sucks for you, doesn't it? It sucks for me, too. 
  2. More running makes chronic shin splints worse. Running every day makes them feel deadly, like your shins are made from fragments of broken glass that grind together with each step. Running two days in a row makes you want to cry. Adding distance too quickly will temporarily cripple you.
  3. Couch to 5K doesn't work for you (see 1 and 2). It adds distance too quickly and will just make you feel like a failure. Plus it's use of timed running/walking splits doesn't actually build distance if you're running with shin splints. It just builds pain. Throw out the papers and delete the app.
  4. Here's what DOES work. Go outside. Run until you feel like you're going to die, either from lack of oxygen (asthma), heart rate, or shin pain. Then walk until you feel like you might survive. Then go back to running. Repeat this cycle until you're feeling like a good workout has begun. Then TURN AROUND. You still need to get home. Do not run the next day.
  5. At the most, run three days a week. Don't run those days back to back. Do not try to make up runs. Do not do a "long run" or a "short run." Those terms work for people who can handle various distances.
  6. Do not run by yourself. Not only does this make street harassment more likely to happen, it also makes you sad. Sad running is stupid, because it defeats the purpose of running, which is to make you happier. Have someone ride their bicycle along with you, or take Darcy and run shorter distances. This will keep you running for longer, meaning you won't get depressed about everything sucking and quit for three months before starting over again.
  7. Give up on all workout clothes except Old Navy's. Their leggings come in Tall.
  8. Seriously, get your shoes fitted. And when the sales clerk tells you to come back when your legs start hurting, resist the urge to walk outside, turn around, and walk back inside to tell her your legs never stop hurting. She won't think your chronic shin splints are as darkly funny as you do.
  9. The treadmill won't actually kill you. It is pretty much designed not to. There are safety switches and everything.
  10. Races are not for everyone. You might never run another race again. That is totally okay. You don't need to do that just because the running bloggers you like run them. Races are expensive, and they're only worth it if they motivate you.
  11. Find out what DOES motivate you and do that thing. Maybe it's spending time reading running books or blogs. Maybe it's looking at cute fitness wear on Pinterest even though you will never shop at expensive luxury exercise clothing boutiques. Maybe you just have fun running with your dog. Do those things, even if you think you're "supposed" to be motivated by other things.
So there you go. Running lessons from someone who will never be an awesome runner and is okay with that. 

Current Laura

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