It’s been a strange experience realizing just how very out of shape I am. One that has left me wondering, “How did I get here?”
I’ve been shocked by how out of shape I am. On the same trip on which I noticed my weight-gain, I also discovered strength-loss. All season, I’ve been riding a men’s snowboard. Given the exhaustion that I would feel after a few hours of snowboarding, I thought that this board simply took more strength to handle because of its greater length and height than my previous snowboard. My husband suggested that I might just be out of shape, but I didn’t think that was possible. I was convinced this new board was just a lot more work than my women’s board. When we went to Utah, I brought both boards: The men’s board for if we were blessed with snow, and the women’s board to use if we were riding groomies. It didn’t snow for our entire time in Utah, so on our second day, I switched to the women’s board, sure that it would relieve my aching muscles. Wrong. I was still completely exhausted. Oops. Saign was right. I was completely out of shape. Dang.
Despite my realization that I was completely out of shape in regards to snowboarding, I wasn’t prepared to learn that I was also completely out of shape when it came to running. Running has always come naturally to me. I’ve never worried about speed, I’ve always just run. I have completed a half-marathon in the past, and while I do remember being exhausted at the end, the training was very easy, and not painful at all. Not the case this time around. Since beginning training, I’ve been in pain. Not bad, ouch-I-need-a-doctor-pain, but moderate oh-I-had-a-good-workout-pain. This pain is mostly in my legs, just dull and achy and kind of odd. Odd because I didn’t expect pain, because I had no idea how out of shape I was. My pain doesn’t stop in my legs though. I can feel it in my lungs too. I’m so out of shape that my lungs slightly ache throughout the day after working out. Oh, and I forgot to mention: on long run days, I’m exhausted and irritable. My longest run thus far in this training season has been 7 miles, and I had to take a nap afterwards (and I was still exhausted after the nap).
All of this has left me wondering: How did I get here? How in the world did I get so out of shape without realizing it? As I think about it, I know how I got here. All sorts of little changes added up into me not running as much, as fast, or as far.
Two years ago, I ran 20-25 miles a week. For fun. No other motivation. Oh, and I was fast! (Well, not really fast at all, but I was able to effortlessly run 9 minute miles, where now, I am pushing myself to get 9 minute miles). So, here are the various things that have happened that have led to me being the slow, out-of-shape me that I am right now. (But won’t be for long!)
1. Denial. I’m going to provide a whole post about my denial, so I’m not going to say much here, but let’s just say, the signs have been here, and I’ve ignored them
2. I lost my running route. When I ran 20-25/week, I was living in Pasadena, CA. I ran a 4.5 mile loop most days, which required me to pass a few stop lights in the first mile or so, but then led me to running past nice mansions in a quiet neighborhood. I then moved to Florida and then to Washington. In both of these places, the routes that didn’t require me to cross too many busy streets and led me to nice scenic places have been 3 mile loops…so I cut my daily run from 4.5 miles to 3 miles, without giving it a second thought.
3. I got a puppy. My dog is now a great running partner, but to avoid problems like hip dysplasia, the general recommendation is to not run dogs until they’re 11 months old. Whoa. This was like torture to me. So, I started running Ada the Dog when she was around 6 months old, but I felt bad about it…which is part of the reason why that 3-mile-loop in Florida didn’t seem problematic for me. Hey, it was worse for my health, but better for my dog’s health!
4. Early mornings. Okay, I am a morning person. I love mornings! But my current 7:30 start-work times are a little too early. I have to wake up at 5am to run. And it’s still dark out. And it’s unpleasant. And during October, I actually get scared of the Halloween decorations because it’s dark out and I still have the imagination of a 7-year-old, so I get scared that the ghosts and witches might get me. Sooo…sometimes I turn my alarm off and go back to sleep.
5. I got a husband. I went from a longer running route to a shorter running route after moving to Florida…but I still had full responsibility for Miss Ada the Dog, so I still ended up putting in about 4 miles a day. I’d run her for 3 miles in the morning and then walk her for 1 mile in the evening. But, then I got married. So guess what? I don’t have to exercise Ada the Dog, because my husband can walk her for me! I took full advantage of having a live-in dog walker, and stopped exercising her all the time…which meant I stopped exercising me as well!
Saign walking Ada the Dog
In other words, life happened. Little changes along the way led me to working out less without me even noticing. But now I’ve taken notice, so I’m ready. I will be cognizant of changes that happen that may lead me to working out less, and I’ll be ready to push myself forward.
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