Running with MJ, the Beginning
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
When I was about 28, I knew I needed to get in better shape, but I found with work and commuting, there was no time to exercise. Running seemed like the ideal option as there was no travel or prep time required. The only cost was the purchase of a good pair of running shoes and then I could just walk out the door and run. My problem was that running was something I had always dreaded. My memories of running were from grade 7 and 8 when the PE teacher told us to go out and run around the block. It was so difficult for me as I had never trained to run and just simply running straight out and around the approximately 1 km block seemed impossible. I wasn’t familiar with the idea of pacing, so I fell behind the rest of the class quickly, and I found the experience discouraging. However, at 28, I needed to do something and running was going to be the easy choice.
To begin I bought a book on starting to run and I began by setting a start date and following the beginning to run plan in the book. It was simple, I would get home, put on my shoes and complete whatever goal the book had set out for me that day, and then come home to make dinner with my future hubby. The plan took me along slow enough that I felt encouraged to continue and to complete it and I never had to be out longer than 30 minutes.
Of course, as I started to improve and complete the goals laid out for myself, my desire to run longer, further, and faster increased – as I think is normal for most runners. The book I had purchased had other running plans laid out in it that I used for a few months. Then in the January before I turned 30, I joined a running group and started training for a half marathon that I would run after I turned 30. It was fun running with others twice a week and having a shared goal at the end. Part of the training recommended running another race before heading straight into a half marathon, so I did the St. Patrick’s Day 5K in Toronto.
Race day came and it was time to do the half marathon, so I set out with my running friends. Par t way through the race I couldn’t keep up and I was starting to feel so discouraged. My younger sister was also running the race and she caught up to me. She looked refreshed and I knew she could run a faster pace, but she ran with me to the finish. If it wasn’t for her I might not have finished the actual race. At just after my 30th birthday I ran a half marathon in 2:01:56 (secretly I really wanted my time to be under 2 hours though). At the end of the race I stated that I would never run that far again and would stick to 15 km or less.
At 31 I had my first child, and soon after went through a time of severe health issues. For years after I tried to start running again, sometimes with more success than others. Often I would end up in bed dizzy for hours, or sometimes days afterward, and this was one of my biggest deterrents to getting back into it. Don’t get me wrong, I was lucky to be alive and able to walk. It was however, still discouraging and disappointing to say the least. It seemed like my running days were behind me.
For a few years I had a membership to the local Y and managed to do some very serious and high-quality workouts thanks to a personal trainer there. I was in good shape again – maybe the best shape of my life, but running still eluded me.
In my late 40s I started to have difficulty with small things likee walking up a hill, or biking the 1 km home from the grocery store. My family would be so frustrated with me and I almost always ended up in tears even when we just did little things.
In the summer of 2019, we went hiking with another family in Glencoe Scotland, and I had to stop and wait for everyone else to return as I just couldn’t do it. It was so upsetting as these were things I had always done and took for granted.
What I didn’t realize was my iron levels were very low. Once diagnosed, the remedy was an iron infusion. It seemed like such a small problem but what a difference that made to my life! In a few weeks I was biking and walking as I always had (no more tears on family outings). Of course, I tried running again.
With time the running became much easier and I set out with great enthusiasm, thinking I can do this! However, after a bad cold in February 2020 (in hindsight I wonder if it was Covid 19), followed by the Covid 19 lockdown, my energy was not what it had been and I wasn’t able to resume running as quickly as I had hoped. By June 2020, and feeling back to my energetic self, I began the process of making running a part of my everyday life. With the initial goals of trying to get to 5 km and to make running a permanent part of my routine again.
In upcoming blogs, I will share how I’m doing and share my experience of running again at 50 years of age. I hope you enjoy my journey and that it might inspire some people to put on those shoes and start running, or doing whatever it is that will get you back into the shape you think you should be in.