Friday, March 2, 2012

Breaking out of my box to run a 5K!

In the words of the Fresh Prince, my life recently got flipped, turned upside down. I won't go into it here, but let's just say something very unexpected and unfortunate happened that threw me off my axis, and I haven't been able to focus on personal fitness for a while now. In fact, for the entire month of February, I haven't done any hiking, and I've only been to the gym a handful of times. But tomorrow all that changes. I'm doing something drastic to get my fitness psyche back in alignment with my goals - I'm challenging myself to complete a 5K race.

This is so far out of my comfort zone that it almost seems implausible. But in fact, I'm doing it. I'm going to finish all 3.1 miles of the Engineers Without Borders UNM River Run tomorrow even if I have to crawl over the finish line.

You may be thinking to yourself, "What's the big deal? It's not a marathon or anything". True enough. But consider this. Throughout my entire weight loss journey, which has seen me lose more than 150 pounds and get into the best shape of my life, I have not run more than maybe a mile or two at any given time. I've walked tons. In fact I was hiking 20 miles per week throughout the Fall 2011 and into the first month of January 2012. But I've avoided running like the plague.

First of all, I was a bit of a gym nut for the first major fitness phase of my program, and I absolutely got bored out of my mind whenever I'd step foot on a treadmill. A rat in a cage is what I felt like. I could handle an hour or so of resistance training or medball exercises, but that was because it involved frequent breaks to people watch and think. But being on a treadmill was like medicine, and not the tasty grape kind my mom would give me whenever I was faking sick. (I wasn't a sickly child, so I had to get my days off where I could!)

Anyway, tomorrow I'm starting cold turkey (if that makes sense). I know I could walk this thing easily, but I'm challenging myself to at least do intervals, a minute or so of running followed by a minute or so of walking, and so on.

I'm fully aware the rest of the crowd will likely be dressed in full running drag, but I'm going as I am. I'm wearing my old Asics cross trainers, a pair of army shorts, one of the moisture-wicking long sleeve shirts I use for hiking, and the 5K sponsors t-shirt. Yep, I'll stick out as the obese underdog in a field of true runners.

I respect the true runners for their dedication, and I had thought about trying to dress like them to fit in. But for one thing, I'm broke and could barely afford the race's entrance fee. And for another thing, it just wouldn't be right. Then I'd be a poser. And I'm really just a guy looking to compete with himself, not others, to do something different and achieve something new.

I know that even if this is the only run I ever participate in it will be a box-breaking accomplishment that will change my perspective on training and have a positive impact on me forever. Still, I'm aware that my optimism and enthusiasm may belie just a bit of anxiety and fear. But as Green Lantern says, "Fear is the enemy of will. Will is what makes you take action. Fear is what stops you and makes you weak. You must ignore your fear. When you’re afraid, you can’t act."

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