Running is not for me, or so I thought

For more than a decade now, I have had friends who have run marathons, gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to run each day, have told me how running was like meditation for them and always have encouraged me to run. And my response to them has been “Running is not for me.”

For me, running was such a huge mental block that of all the things I thought I would do in my life, a half-marathon was nowhere on the list. And yet here I am sharing my story with you in a series of articles about how I train myself for the upcoming Mill Race Half-Marathon. I hope this series inspires someone who thinks she or he can never run such a long distance, to take up running.

Every year, in the first half of every year, I work out quite regularly (In the second half, let’s say I spend more time enjoying my life). This year was no different. I was working out regularly, doing my weight training and spinning classes every week at the gym, Total Fitness.

One of the days I was talking to my instructor, Tricia Helton, about how I could build my strength and stamina more, and she suggested that I try different types of activities. Keen on getting fitter, I was wanting to try out different activities. So one evening in mid-May, my husband and I decided to go for a run.

I was able to run one mile without a stop. That was the big turning point for me. The training at the gym had built up my stamina, and for the first time in my life, I felt that if I trained seriously enough, I can actually run a half-marathon. And so I started running about two-to-three times a week.

The journey from one mile to two miles was a long one. It took me at least two weeks, if not more, to go from the one-mile to two-mile mark. There was pain in my right leg when I started running the second mile, and by the time I finished my second mile, my right leg was in a lot of pain.

According to my online research, a lot of people feel this kind of pain in their early running days. If the pain doesn’t stop, you are supposed to go see a doctor. I was realizing that running this marathon was going to be all about pushing your mind to keep going forward. So although in pain, I kept running to the two-mile mark. While it took me some time to get comfortable with running two miles, the pain in my leg seemed to be reducing.

It was at this point that I joined Alex (Contreras’) training program. On my first day with the program, a Saturday, we ran three miles. I did walk a couple of times during these three miles, but I was able to finish the three miles. The next whole week, I trained with Alex’s group, and by the end of the next Saturday (when again we ran three miles), the pain in my right leg had mostly gone away.

I continued to do my weight training and spinning on the days that I was not running. So I was working out six days a week. I also took up yoga, and it is proving to be extremely helpful to relax the body after a long run.

Running with a group comes with its own benefits and pitfalls. It makes you finish longer distances, and I definitely need to run with a group if I have to increase my running distance, especially because I am running for the first time. But it also puts you alongside people who are a lot more prepared and ready for this.

I am currently one of the slowest in the group. It is a little discouraging and sometimes makes you wonder if you are really ready for this kind of a long run since most others seem to be much more prepared. However, right now I am only trying to focus on that fact that a few days ago, I was not running at all, and now, I am running three miles, which in itself is a huge step forward.

The training program had a session about “What to eat when you are preparing your body to run.” Shayla Holtkamp suggested that we eat more carbs (she included fruits and vegetables in the carbs section). This was quiet reassuring for me as since I was a child I have been eating my meals with carbs at their center, and I don’t really find it sustainable to change my diet.

Also, I am a big follower of nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, and one of her philosophies is that your body will function best when you eat what generations of your ancestors have been eating since that is what your body and genes have gotten used to. So I am happy that I can continue to eat what I have grown up eating. I am also making sure that I eat one fruit and have a glass of milk every day.

Coming to the past 15 days of my training, I have been in Paris for the past two weeks, and the traveling and the moving is making it difficult to find sufficient time to practice. During my first week here, I did not run until Thursday, and I was having nightmares that I will lose my stamina, strength and momentum. I did a two-mile run on that day and could do it fairly comfortably.

That was a huge reassurance.

In the following week, I have been able to do two runs, A three-miler and a four-miler. I am finding the first mile a little slower when the body is still getting warmed up. The second and the third mile, I am definitely beginning to enjoy the run. There was a slight numbness in my right leg when I was running the fourth mile. I am trying to slow down a bit when I feel the numbness and moderate my pace according to how I my right leg feels comfortable. But I am surely beginning to enjoy my run now. Other than the runs, I have not really been cross-training for the past three weeks.

One of my concerns right now is to keep up with the distance the group is covering back home in Columbus. The first two weeks I was gone, the group did five miles each Saturday. I really don’t want to fall behind the group. More importantly, I don’t want to give a chance to any kind of mental block to start developing. Of the three runs that I plan to do next week, I will do a five-miler at least once, if not more.

Every time that I add that next mile to my distance, I feel extremely happy. It is that feeling of achieving something that you thought was too difficult. It makes my week. I am very much looking forward to adding that fifth mile in the coming week. Will keep you posted about how that goes.

At a glance

Dipti Gore training plan for July 10-16

Monday: Rest (traveling back from France)

Tuesday: Run 3 miles

Wednesday: Weight training and spinning

Thursday: Run 3 miles

Friday: Yoga

Saturday: Running (as per the group plan)

Sunday: Running (as per the group plan)