Slow running… it’s the new fast!

Reposted from FitMilwaukee.com:

I’ve never been fast. I don’t even know if I’d ever care to be fast.

A lot of times, you hear about how fast people run races. Don’t get me wrong. I have a time goal. It’s just no where near that of my close friends. When they’re running an “easy” 9 min pace, I’m busting my ass trying to keep a sub 15 pace.

I consider myself a runner. I run/walk and I’m ok with that. Of course, I’d love to get to the point where I’m only running and not walking unless I really need a break. But, I like the freedom that walk/running gives me. If I only ran, my workouts would be less than a mile. But with slowing things down and alternating between running and walking, I’m able to cover many miles.

This weekend, I ran just over 6 miles in about 90 minutes. Am I going to win an award any time soon? No, but I was beaming with pride when I realized this was the FASTEST I’d ever done 6 miles. A year ago, I was run/walking at a much different pace. I would hope to average 16-17 minutes per mile, but be happy with anything less than 18:30. Now, my slowest walking pace is in the 16-16:30 range… but usually falls between 15-16. My previous FAST time is now my SLOW time.

I know that as I lose weight, my pace and endurance will continue to improve, but I don’t expect to be qualifying for Boston ANY time soon.

I’m focusing on creating attainable goals for me and my body. And, if slow running is the key, then I’ll embrace it with a big sloppy kiss.

Last week, I wrote a very cathartic post on my blog about how difficult it is for me to run with anyone else. Go on. Read it. If you’ve ever felt like you’re not good enough to run in a group, read it twice. I’ll wait.

Done?

Ok, good.

The response to this post was overwhelming. Emails, gchats, comments, Facebook messages, etc. I never in a million years expected people to respond as they did. (I’m still surprised anyone reads my blog.)

I realized that I’m not alone in my running insecurity. Then I noticed some talk on Twitter that was all too familiar to me, “Oh, you won’t want to run with me. I’m super slow.” This is my general response when someone asks me to run.

It forced me to swallow my pride and do something I’ve been thinking about doing for a couple of months now. I’m starting a slow running group. All are welcome to join us (there’s a group on Facebook)… and there will be a forum coming soon. You don’t have to be fast or slow or even a runner to join us. Walk/run/crawl/skip whatever the hell you want. The key to this group is acceptance and no judging. Yeah, I said it. Don’t judge. Don’t judge people for being too fast. Don’t judge people for being too slow. We’re all in different places in our fitness journeys. We’re beginners. We’re veterans. We’re runners (or walkers).

We’ll be having a group “run” Monday, March 28th rain or shine. Meet us at Lake Park in Milwaukee at 6pm. We will be near Lake Park Bistro. I’ll probably have a 2-3 mile route planned, but you can feel free to do as much or as little as you like – and, please, please, please go at your own pace. Don’t feel you have to speed up to catch up with someone else… especially if your body isn’t cooperating. Go at your pace. Do your own thing… and I’m sure you’ll find someone who’s at your pace! It sounds like we have people with an average pace (whether running, run/walking or walking) of anywhere from 11-18 minutes per mile. If you’re faster or slower than this – please still come and join us!

I’ll leave you with these words from John Bingham, the father of slow running:

“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination.”

I need to learn how to share

I need to learn how to share.

Yes, I’m an adult and I know how to share just about everything in my life. But there’s something I have a hard time sharing.

Running.

This may sound odd, coming from someone who has a huge group of running friends – many of whom she MET through running. Even stranger to hear from someone who joined Team Challenge to train to run two half marathons… who went to practice every Sunday for months to go running/walking with others.

Yes, I have a REALLY hard time sharing my running time with others… besides Beep of course. She can run with me anytime.

Why do I have such a hard time sharing running with others?

Perhaps it’s that over the course of the last year, I’ve become accustomed to solo running. I’m not fast enough to run with my running besties. Well, I’ll meet for a group run, run with them for a minute and then my huffing and puffing slows my pace down to something more comfortable. Or, I’d join them on my bike on their long marathon-training runs.

I think this all started last summer when I was training for the Napa to Sonoma half marathon with Team Challenge. I was a run/walker. I aligned myself with the walkers, as I mostly walked, especially on the long “run” days. I didn’t really consider myself a runner. I could run for an eighth or quarter mile at a time, followed by quite a bit of walking. My body and my lungs weren’t ready for consistent running.

Now that I finally consider myself a runner, I have a hard time sharing this with anyone else. It’s like my private Amy time. I’m alone with God’s creation (outside) or trying to lose myself in the music on my iPod on the treadmill at the gym. Don’t even think about talking to me when I’m on the treadmill. Yes, guy at Bally’s who is crushing on me, I’m talking to you. There is nothing attractive about a 250-pound woman running on a treadmill. EVERYTHING is bouncing. Well maybe that’s what you’re liking, but I can assure you I do not feel pretty. So quit trying to get my number while I’m running.

I have an anxious nervous feeling in my chest when I think about actually running WITH someone. What if they’re faster than me? What if they get frustrated when I have to stop to walk? What if they don’t consider this a workout? What if I look ridiculous? What if I fail? What if they get frustrated that I don’t talk when I run? That I don’t want to talk because it will take up precious air that I could use to bust through my lungs on this run?

I’m sure my friends wouldn’t feel this way when running with me, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

I’ve gone to the gym for a treadmill running date with Annie… but for some reason that was different. We could each go at our own comfortable pace and it wasn’t a big deal. I think I was more comfortable with this too because she’s seen me at my very worst as my Team Challenge coach.

But then a friend, Katie, asked me to meet her for a run at the gym a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to try out the track at the gym. She’s new to running so I agreed. I warned her repeatedly that I was slow and took regular walking breaks. She didn’t care. She was excited to go with someone else, as she doesn’t have a lot of friends in the running community. We warmed up with a walk and I kept track of laps with my Garmin. I felt the need to apologize whenever I had to stop to walk, but she was amazing and would stop to walk a lap or two with me. One time I told her to continue running if she felt up to it and so she did one extra lap while I walked. Overall, I had my fastest time for a 3mi run on this workout with her. It was fun but I still felt awkward. I don’t know why, I just left feeling like a fool.

You see, when you’re out on your own… no one knows how long you’ve been running when you take a walk break. No one knows how far your run is. No one knows but you. But when you run with someone, there’s this feeling like I need to make sure I keep up so they don’t think I’m a loser. Maybe it’s just me, but this is a huge insecurity for me. I’m slightly tearing up as I write this and the fact that I’m tearing up makes me sad.

Yesterday I met up with one of my best friends, Rachel, who wanted to join me for my walk/run. She was so sweet and said, “Now, we will go at your pace. Whatever you want to do. I’ll go with you.” This was amazing. But, even though I was with someone I’ve known for almost 9 years, who knows more about me than most people, who knows my struggle with weight issues and fitness… Even with her I felt nervous about running. That and the fact that I forgot my inhaler at home had me saying, “You know, we’re walking at a pretty fast clip today. Let’s just keep walking fast and not run.”

Why did I do that?

Why?

Rachel, of all people, wouldn’t have judged me. But in the back of my mind, I was worried that she would. And so I settled for a fast walk instead of my prescribed walk/run.

By about mile 3 (of the 4.65 we did)… I was feeling guilty. But I also didn’t want to be all “hey, lets runnnnn” so I continued on the fast walk til we returned to her house.

I drove home, disappointed in myself for not even trying a run with her.

I picked up some lunch and headed home. I cuddled with Beep and watched some HGTV and fell asleep for a little afternoon nap.

When I woke up the intense guilt was ridiculous. I felt GUILTY for not RUNNING. There was really no physical reason for me not to run- except for the fear that I would have an asthma attack without my inhaler.

So, I got Beep’s leash and went out for a mile. We averaged 14:15 on the run that was just over a mile.
If my earlier morning “run” had been a good workout, I don’t see how I would have been able to so easily run just a few hours later.

I obviously have some issues I need to work out with this whole running solo business. Races are different… people are running with you but they’re really not. I just have never had to rely on anyone but myself on my runs and maybe that’s why I am so possessive of my precious running miles. Maybe I just can’t stand the thought of starting a run with a friend and then having to tell them to run on ahead… Maybe I need to just get over myself. Maybe I need to go back to therapy.

I don’t know the answers. I just know that I need to learn how to share.

Trying to stay positive in a sea of setbacks

Knee. Ankle. Knee. Foot. Ankle. Foot. Shoulder. Foot. Knee. Foot. Foot. Rib. Foot.

I have had so many setbacks in my training and journey to health. It seems like each time I take one step forward, something sets me two steps back.

I have worked hard to not let this affect me but, to be honest, it tears me up. I’ve tried to put up a strong front. I’ve tried to be nonchalant about it all. I’ve had some moments of public disappointment about my injuries and setbacks. Mostly, I’ve tried to convince myself it was ok.

Truthfully, it’s been blow after blow after blow, both physically and mentally.

It’s draining to stay positive when all you want to do is ask God, “Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep having injuries? Why do I have to be so freaking cautious in my training? Why is it easy for everyone else to train without setbacks?”

I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve tried to set a good example for others who say they are inspired by me. I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let you down.

But it’s all a lie.

It sucks.

From knee problems and a sprained foot/ankle to plantar fasciitis and a subluxated rib, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of it all.

I am sick of being excited about an accomplishment, only to a short time later have to pull back.

I want to run. I want to run far. I want to run fast. I want to be the best. I want to compete. I want to race.

I don’t want to be the last to finish. In fact, I don’t want to be anywhere near the back of the pack.

But that’s where I am.

Why can’t I be happy with where I’m at? Why am I constantly comparing myself to others who’ve been at this so much longer than I have? Why can’t I be happy, knowing that I have completed a half marathon, instead of being disappointed I walked more than 10 miles of it?

Why does it kill me to know — that despite my hopes, my prayers, my careful and smart training post Napa and during training for Vegas — that there’s no way I will be able to run a full 13.1 miles in 11 weeks? That was the plan all along. Just finish the race in Napa. Then run the hell outta Vegas. I’m 11 weeks from the race and the furthest I’ve gone is 3.8 miles, and that was mostly walking. Yesterday I ran for a mile without walking, and while I’m so freaking happy about that, the accomplishment is clouded by the knowledge that I can’t keep that pace going for more than a mile.

I know I need to focus on the positive, but I’m tired of focusing on that. I need to vent. I need to cry.

I’m trying to be smart. I’m trying not to push myself too hard. I’m trying to listen to my body. I’m trying to listen to my trainer. I’m trying to listen to my coaches. I’m trying to be positive.

I’m trying.

Red sauce 60 minutes pre-run = omg hell

Had another great Team Challenge mid-week group run tonight. For the first quarter mile, Jodi and I stuck with Rochelle, Karla and Kevin… but after 5 minutes, we dropped back (they were going between 10:30-12min pace and that was pushing it for me for extended periods of time).

Jodi and I alternated running a quarter mile and walking a quarter mile for the first mile. Our split was 15:20ish. Unfortunately, this is where things went down hill for me.

You see, today I had time to make another batch of homemade tomato sauce with goodies from my garden. I spent more than 2 hours making the amazing sauce (fresh tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, onion, basil, italian sausage… shall I go on?) and couldn’t resist having some for dinner before the group run.

Note to self: NEVER EVER EAT A BIG MEAL BEFORE A RUN, NO MATTER HOW HUNGRY YOU ARE.

During the first mile my stomach started gurgling and its contents sloshed about.

By the 1.25 mi mark I told Jodi to go on without me. I wasn’t gonna be able to keep running. I thought I was going to puke.

About mile 1.6 (just about a tenth of a mile from the Lake Park Bistro stairs), I had a different kind of tummy rumble. You know, the I-don’t-have-to-puke-I-have-to -oh-crap-get-to-a-bathroom tummy rumble. I started running and was honestly worried I would either puke or shit my pants. Or both.

I made it that last tenth of a mile. But then I had the stairs. Those were brutal.

I wanted to scream.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted a toilet, damnit.

I got to the top of the stairs and luckily made it to the bathroom.

Aren’t you glad I shared this story?

Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
– John Bingham

It started out like any normal Sunday. Well, any normal Sunday where you get up at 4 a.m. to get ready and catch a bus at 5 a.m. to your first half marathon. You know, the usual. My first half marathon experience was nothing short of amazing. God spoke to me through Freddy Mercury, I never stopped to use the bathroom, I ran about 3 miles, I kept smiling and joking throughout and got to see almost every single teammate along the way. I am so grateful for this experience.

Me and Coach Anne – the cool kids in the back of the bus.

Team Challenge Wisconsin met for one last team cheer before the walkers nervously boarded our fancy bus to Napa. I was a ball of nerves. Yes, I’m smiling in the photos above, but my stomach was in knots. What had I done? Did I really sign up for this? What the hell was I thinking? Who in their right mind – at 249 lbs – would do a half marathon? I mean, really…

Well, I guess I’m that crazy fool.

Shortly after we boarded the bus, Dave, one of my teammates, said to me, “You look nervous.” Duh. Of course I was nervous. I had been dealing with an upset stomach all week leading up to this moment. Continue reading “Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon”

I’m on the injured reserve


This is what happens when your Garmin is upset you can’t run for 2 weeks.

One week ago, I did a half marathon. All week long, I’ve been a lazy bum. I need to kick my butt in gear but I’ve been in so much pain with my left foot.

Went to the doc Friday afternoon and she said that since my foot felt better before the race, it probably wasn’t a stress fracture. Dr. H. thinks it’s one of the following – bad sprain, torn tendon or tendonitis. Lovely, eh? If it still hurts in 2 weeks, she’s sending me to an orthopedic specialist who’ll likely do a bone scan or ct scan. yay.

So, I can’t run or walk (everyday kind of walking is ok. Walking to work out is not) for 2 weeks. No elliptical either (not that I mind). Basically, anything that means I’m putting all my weight on my feet is out.

This basically leaves me with biking and swimming. I love biking and I love swimming. I just don’t have access to a pool. Sure, there’s a lake but with all the rain we’ve had lately, I’m pretty sure that’s the last place I want to be right now. If anyone has a pool I could swim laps in for free, lemme know. Or, if you know of a place I could use for a nominal fee, I’m all ears. I need to do cardio and I don’t want to only bike. Besides, the trail I usually use is all effed up because of the rain. (UPDATE: My friend Jane may have solved the pool access dilemma. Stay tuned).

Yes, I’m making excuses, but I’m just trying to air out my options. I’ll probably hit up yoga this week, even though that requires weight on my feet. I don’t know what else to do! At least with yoga, it’s not constant moving and pounding on my feet.

Also: I got a good foot/ankle brace now. Icing a few times a day and sucking down the ibuprofen.

Do as I say, not as I do

I’ve been struggling with something for awhile now and I can’t keep it bottled up anymore. I’ve tried to be upbeat and positive about this whole sprained foot fiasco. Oh wait, you don’t know about this do you?

Yeah, that’s right. I never blogged about it. Why? Well, I kept putting it off… and off… and off… until I started getting bitter today about he whole thing. Sure, I tweeted about it and made posts on DailyMile, but I never really blogged about how it made me feel. Here goes.

I was scared.

My left foot pain is getting worse, not better. I’m so scared something is wrong that will knock me out of training for Napa. Please send some healing thoughts/prayers my way. Pretty sure I’ll be going to the doctor today. 🙁

I was relieved.

FOOT UPDATE: It’s a sprain of sorts. I have to take it easy and I should be able to still run/walk the Wine Country Half Marathon. Basically, taper is starting a week early. 🙁

I was sad.

feeling like I won’t get to RUN a 5k… ever. #jth says I can jog or walk SLOWLY on thurs. #fitmke #sadmke

I was bitter.

all of you running the storm the bastille tomorrow can suck it.#bitter #sadface #norunningtilnapa

Last month, I had to “take it easy” for the Great Milwaukee Race. I wasn’t supposed to run. But, I didn’t want to let my teammates down so I ran a bit (this was before I knew the foot was sprained). Then I had my long build-up run/walks for training for the half marathon. I did 8 miles… then almost 9… then just over 10 miles. All on a sprained foot. Yep. I am pretty badass. Or stubborn. One of the two.

Luckily, the diagnosis came a week before my taper was to begin, so instead of doing my last long run/walk of 12 miles… I started taking it easy and tapering back early. On the one hand, awesome. On the other, crap.

I had a “come to Jesus” conversation with my trainer via text message the day I went to the doctor. Here’s how it went:

Me: This sucks.

John: Why? It will be fine!

Me: Because I want to do it all 🙁

John: U will just not this week, u wanna be fit for life, not just a couple of months, right?

Me: Yeah. You’re right. I know I need to listen I just don’t want to. Haven’t had an “easy” week since I began training for the half

John: That could be part of the reason u are hurt at the moment.

Me: Prolly. Guess I’m just afraid of going back to my old routine of nothing. Know what I mean?

John: I will drag ur punk ass out of ur house and make u workout if u do!

Me: Deal.

I have tried to accept the fact that I had to stop running. I have tried to accept the fact that I had to drop out of a 5k two weeks ago. I have tried (and failed) to accept the fact that I can’t run the Storm the Bastille 5k tomorrow. This race is especially hard for me to miss because back when I decided to start this journey, my goal race was to run the Storm the Bastille on July 8. Sure, I am freaking doing a half marathon next week, but I can’t help but feel like a complete failure. My one, measly goal – Run the Storm the Bastille – #amyfail. Yes, my goals have changed. I can do 3.1 miles in my sleep. But I haven’t actually RAN a full 5k yet. This has been a psychological barrier for me and I have been eagerly anticipating the chance to show myself I can RUN a 5k.

Then there’s this whole all-these-people-donated-money-for-charity-because-I-said-I-would-do-a-half-marathon-and-I-went-and-overdid-things-and-may-have-put-the-whole-race-at-risk factor. Yup. I’m doing this whole get healthy journey for me. And I am worried about what my family and friends will think if I fail miserably next weekend. When I started training, my goal was to be at a solid 15 minute mile pace (4mph). I’m quite certain if I was able to run more, I would have no problem maintaining this pace. However, due to all of my training setbacks (including the knee problems a few months ago), I have been logging a solid 16:30-17:30 walking pace. So now, my new time goal is in the 3:30-4:00 range. I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others… but I have friends who are in the sub-4:00 MARATHON time range. And I’m just praying I can do a sub-4:00 HALF MARATHON. It’s a kick to the ol’ ego, that’s for sure.

I need to stop putting myself through this, but I can’t help it. There was a time (just months ago), where I couldn’t understand why some of my friends were working out ALL the time. They were running 7-8 miles FOR FUN. My idea of a good time was ordering a pizza, drinking a 6-pack of beer and watching basic cable Law & Order: SVU marathons. My idea of a good time was certainly not training for a HALF MARATHON. SVU Marathons are much more entertaining.  Now, ordering a pizza, drinking beer and watching SVU Marathons is still high on my list of fun times… but the times I’ve been able to run – actually RUN – I can’t describe the feeling as anything short of euphoric. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of. And I know mine is capable of running.

I know I need to listen to my trainer, my coach, my doctors… but I can’t help feeling like I’m a failure. I feel like giving up. I feel like putting on my fat pants. I feel like burying my sorrow in peanut butter M&Ms, fruity cocktails, microbrews, high-carb, high-fat meals… (and trust me, I have done this in recent weeks). But I know that is giving in. I can’t fall back to the old Amy. I can’t let the old fat girl win. The new fat girl is so much more fun. She feels better. She can walk up flights of stairs without losing her breath. She is 10 days away from completing a half marathon (at 250 lbs, none the less). She needs to get over herself, put on her big-girl underwear and stop being such a baby.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… don’t be stupid like I’ve been. Be smart. Accept your setbacks. Grow a pair.

I’m Amy and I’m a runner (Hi Amy)

Me: Hello everyone. My name is Amy and I’m a runner.

You: Hi Amy!

Me: It’s been 12 hours since my last run.

You: Wow. That’s awesome.

Me: I don’t know if I can resist the temptation to run anymore.

You: Don’t fight it. Celebrate it.

Me: You got it. Hey world, I’m a freaking runner! Did you hear that? AMY MARIE KANT IS A RUNNER.

You should know that I made it Dailymile official (see Facebook official). I am no longer a “Walker.” I’m a “Runner” and it’s not going back. Ever. Even if I do walk during my training, I know I’m a runner now. No one can take that away from me, unless they cut my legs off.

I really didn’t think I was going that fast

For the past week, I watched the family dogs while everyone was in Minnesota visiting our extended family for my cousin’s confirmation (I had calendar complications i.e. I thought it was next weekend). 

I took the dogs on walks daily, occasionally doing 1-2 block running intervals. Usually, though, I felt “weighed down” by the dogs… like I could have gone faster if they weren’t with me. But, I cherish every minute I have with them (they are my babies).

Yesterday, I took them on a 4 mile walk. Our pace was by far not my best… but not my worst, either. I received the following e-mail from my dad tonight:

Amy:

I can really tell that YOU have been “walking” the dogs at a much faster pace than me and Mom.  I took the dogs for a walk after supper and as soon as we went through the gate it was off to the races.  Or were they talking me for a walk?

Dad

Teehee. I really didn’t think we were walking that fast!