I want to be clear: I am not a runner.
Until a few weeks ago, my idea of a workout was carrying a half-gallon of mint chocolate chip to my desk instead of a pint. I was routinely winded by the two-flight climb to my own apartment, and if a prospective lover suggested we go hiking together, our first date quickly became our last.
I am not a runner.
But a few weeks ago, twitter was atwitter about Couch to 5k, a running program for people who can’t run. In most running programs I’ve seen, the first week’s warm-up is a leisurely 28-mile jog through your nearest mountain range, but this program sounded more up my alley. For the first week, you run just sixty seconds at a time.
Sixty seconds? Sixty seconds I can do.
And sixty seconds I did. Because of all the things I lost in my last break-up, one thing I gained is twenty-five pounds. And that is a souvenir I am happy to kiss good-bye.
It turned out that sixty seconds was nothing to scoff at. The goal was sixty seconds running and ninety seconds walking, alternated for twenty minutes. For the whole first week, I huffed and puffed my way through the set, praying for mercy at the 45-second mark. It was a little pathetic.
But last week, something strange happened. I was at the gym on my lunch break, sweating through Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ (quite possibly the greatest running song of all time, no, I’m serious), and when the 60 seconds ended… I decided to keep going.
How about if I run for the entire song? Just to see if I can?
And I could.
I ran an entire mile.
An entire mile! It was a thirteen-minute mile, so I won’t be bringing home the gold in Track & Field, but ohmygod. I ran for thirteen minutes. How is that even possible?? I was on Cloud #971 for the remainder of the day.
So I made it one more minute. And then another. I kept reaching out to lower the pace, but something stopped me every time. I decided to go just a little farther.
One awkward side effect of running is that it makes me very emotional. At the peak of a meditative run, I’ve been known to choke up at Lady Gaga. Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ once prompted an emotional crisis. I could create an entire tumblr blog devoted to Pop Lyrics I Misinterpret to Assuage My Existential Despair, but that’s kind of a long name for a blog.
Unfortunately, The Zone is where my emotionality peaks. A Prince song brought a lump to my throat. The Black Eyed Peas made me consider weekly therapy. A Rihanna song provoked deep contemplation on mortality, regret, and the meaning of life.
Sometimes it’s all you can do.