<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Learning to Run

Recently, Phil mentioned that after a long break from running, he can only run for a few minutes at a time. His runs get longer and longer, until, as he says, "when I can run about 9 minutes, all of a sudden I can run for 20 minutes." This has given me great hope.

I have never been good at running. In grade school, I was always one of the slowest runners in my class. No matter the distance, you can bet I was at the back--though, admittedly, the 100-meter run was by far my worst. (Ugh, I feel yucky just thinking about that.) And, stupidly enough, they never taught us how to run at school; they just expected us to do it. This held true for pretty much every track and field event. High jump: "Come on class, jump high! Oh, wow, Karina, that looked like it hurt. Okay, back of the line, try again."

But, I think running was the worst. And if you showed any talent or ability, they'd take you aside to try and train you for the track and field team. I'd watch those people getting their private instruction and think, "If anyone needs help at this, it's me, not the people who are flying past me." No such luck.

Yet I've always wanted to be able to run, and though I know that this is not something that I'll ever get good at, I've decided that I can't let that stop me. See, I had plans months ago that this summer I would compete in the Sea2Summit race when it's at Blue Mountain, a ski resort that's only about an hour's drive from where I live, if that. I had plans, very big plans, that (of course) involved me becoming fit enough to actually compete in a two-day race without making a complete ass out of myself. But, then I realized that with Worldcon being in Toronto this summer, I'd never be able to afford both. My plans of adventure racing were dashed, and my motivation to become fit again went with it.

See, once upon a time I was fit. Guess about my peak fitness was when I was sixteen, just after I finished my Bronze Cross so I could become a lifeguard (which I was, and which I hated). I remember those days, and my various accomplishments, very fondly. (Is there anyone who has not heard the story of how I swam across a bay?) But, shortly after that, I became rather unhealthy for a few years, and even when I was no longer ill I didn't have the fitness or energy to do pretty much anything. Which is a cycle, I know. And all of a sudden I realized that I've spent the past few years of my life as a complete potato, and I was sick of it. Completely and totally sick of it.

So I'm learning to run.

My first day of running was ... well, it was something. I was able to run for I think a total of about two minutes. I have not been that out of breath in a very long time. And, of course, my asthma kicked in, so I was wheezing and gasping and staggering about, feeling as if my heart was going to explode. I tried to sit down but that made me feel like throwing up, so I had to keep walking, first outside and then around and around my kitchen. It was terrible. I vowed to go running again the next day.

Day two was better in that I was able to run my entire "course" without stopping this time, completing this pitifully short distance in about four minutes. However, I was still very much out of breath, wheezing, etc., and my legs, which had already been sore from my first day's attempt, ached and trembled. But four minutes of running? That was double my previous day's time! I was enthusiastic and encouraged by this seeming progress (and the fact that this run hadn't made me feel like vomiting).

Day three I realized that you're really supposed to have a break occasionally, and not exercise every day. However, despite the aching of my thighs, I really doubted that a total of six minutes of exercise was really enough to get worked up about. I'd planned to increase my distance, but barely did so, finishing a run very much like the one the day before that lasted only seconds longer.

Yesterday, I decided that I was going to take a break. Absolutely. I totally was. But then I didn't. And this was the run that I saw how right Phil was. I did my mini-course once, and kept going. I think I could have gone farther than I did--which was about seven minutes of running, total--but I didn't want to push it too much. I felt great, though. The asthma merely lingered in my throat and chest instead of paralyzing me, and though I still became out of breath, it no longer felt like I was trying to suck oxygen through a stir-stick. Progress!

So, today is supposed to be my break day ... but I wonder if I'll really take a break. Because tomorrow and Thursday I'll be going and returning from Ottawa respectively, and three nights with no running in a row? Doesn't sound like a good plan to me. I need momentum!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:25 PM


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