Karen’s Running Diary

Karen’s Running Diary
FLARE’s resident fitness expert Karen Kwan takes us through the journey of becoming a runner
Here I am with Miriam outside the Westmount Running Room after a 10K run last Sunday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I am so not a morning person. And on weekends, I actually still sleep in as late as I possibly can, just like when I was a teenager. So it is a very big deal that I’ve been getting my butt to the Running Room at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m. every Sunday morning for the past month. Yes, that’s right, one of the only two precious days I’m able to snooze to my hearts content, I am now out running in the increasingly chilly weather. Main reason being is the Sunday run is our group’s long run—i.e. the only way I’ll achieve my goal of running 10K is by making it to these runs.

I’m thrilled to say I completed for the very first time last week—10K completed just shy of 63 minutes. What was even more exciting was the fact that while I’m normally constantly checking my watch and counting down the time until I can enjoy those wonderful 60 seconds of walking (we do intervals of 10 minutes running and 1 walking—aka 10s and 1s to all you running folk), there was actually a walking interval that crept up on me—I only realized when I heard the beep of someone’s interval watch.

Buoyed by this sign of my endurance having improved, I’ve even made the effort to follow some of the tips I’ve learned from the clinic speakers, such as eating a light snack before a run like an apple with peanut butter (anything heavier will make you feel sluggish). And doing several dynamic stretches pre-run to warm up and avoid injury (I was previously too impatient and anxious to get out and run). I admit that I still occasionally hop into Starbucks for a post-run vanilla latte (a no-no according to the nutritionist who came to speak to us)—it’s just a little reward that I feel I’ve earned by completing my run, damn skippy!

As an aside, I was thrilled to hear that my friend from Montreal, Miriam, recently signed up for a half-marathon clinic because she was inspired by my running diary. And you know what? I gotta admit, I think this running thing is something I’ll keep on doing. Next up is either another 10K clinic (to improve my endurance and pace) or a half-marathon clinic (gulp!). Best of all, my new regime has opened up a whole new world to me: all the super-cool, stylish running gear out there to be had. Let me tell you, throwing fashion into the mix makes all of the hills training and speed work a whole lot sweeter.

Friday, October 12th, 2007

I’ve always hated running. And I’ve always avoided running whenever possible—it doesn’t matter if I’m really late, I’d rather miss the bus than run to catch it. The last time I remember running for exercise was back in high school: the seemingly endless loops around the field in gym class, out of breath, all horribly sweaty with a persistent cramp in my side.

So how is it that I’m now running 5K a few times a week and have just started a 10K running clinic? Two things got me started. A few months ago, I received the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit and I was curious to try it out. That, plus the fact that my older sister, who took up running a few years ago and is now completely addicted and has since completed several marathons, made me think if she loves it that much, maybe I should give this running thing a shot.

So I enrolled in a Learn to Run clinic back in July; I figured that I could manage jogging once a week to figure out whether I liked it or not. We started with intervals of running one minute, then walking one minute and the running intervals increased by a minute each clinic until we reached 10 minutes. Given that the only exercise I’ve done recently is Hatha yoga (which doesn’t really get your heart pumping), even the short intervals were tough for me at first. And when my clinic leader mentioned that we really should be running on our own 2-3 times a week outside of the weekly clinic, I realized that I’d gotten myself into something way more involved than I anticipated. And only because I knew I would never be able to keep up with the increasing distances if I didn’t run on my own, I started to do several runs a week in the early evenings.

And so I finished my Learn to Run and moved onto the 5K clinic, even though I’d finished the Learn to Run already running 5K (going straight into a 10K clinic seemed too big of a jump to me). My plan was to improve my pace and when I finished that clinic, I’d reached my personal goal of running 5K in less than 30 minutes.

Which brings me to my current 10K clinic. People often ask me if I love running now, and I don’t. I’m not one of those crazy runners who wants to talk about it on end, and to be honest, I don’t even know if I would say I like it. It’s more just something that I do. Although I get satisfaction of being able to run longer distances, and enjoy seeing the improvement in my pace and knowing how many calories I’ve burned, I’m still waiting for that addiction to set in. When exactly am I going to experience that runner’s high? Never mind that—when am I going to notice a change in body? I’ve been running for four months now and my clothes are still fitting exactly the same way!

One reason I’ve continued on this path is because I feel compelled to keep moving forward with it—I hate giving up on things. I’ve even been toying with the idea of doing a half-marathon in fall 2008—with the reward being getting the puppy I’ve always wanted. But I think I may be getting ahead of myself, so for now I’m going to focus only on completing this 10K clinic, which wraps up in December, and deciding from there what my next step is. Hopefully the cold weather won’t be too much of a deterrent. Enjoying the outdoors has been one redeeming element of my new regime, but I just can’t see myself being motivated to pull on a balaclava and running in the freezing weather in the coming months (I really hate cold weather).

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Wish me luck!