I’ve spent the seven years or so in a cycle that looks a little something like this:
- exercise and see great results
- exercise some more
- exercise like a maniac
- get injured/get sent to physiotherapy
- nurse injury/feel sorry for myself
- quit exercising
Lather, rinse, repeat, ouch.
This year, I got sick and tired of being a slug and decided to start exercising again, but in a sensible and reasonable way by cross-training and building up slowly.
I decided to start running in earnest, as I had started running last year and had really enjoyed it despite the fact that it never became easy and my short legs certainly would not be winning any races anytime soon. It had been about ten months since I’d laced up the running shoes, and between the time off and the sheer force of the heat of Trinidad (in comparison to the very cool British temperatures I was used to running in) I felt like I had never run before.
But I stuck to it with the desperation of a woman that wants to look and feel amazing in her Carnival costume. I slowly added more time and distance, the operative word being slooooowly. As I increased frequency in runs from two to three a week, I religiously did knee-strengthening exercises prescribed to me during previous bouts of physiotherapy, which have helped keep me ache and injury free, except for during my brief flirtation with very badly-done speedwork (which I’ve now learned does NOT mean “run like you’re being chased by men in machetes till your hamstring pops out of place.”)
I also stared down my old nemesis, The Pool, and guess who won? I had taken plenty of swimming lessons as a little girl–but I had hated them and learned very little. However, I hoped against hope I would remember the absolute basics I’d been taught and hit the pool, first like a six-year old with my wimpy board, then increasingly like the Little Mermaid on speed. I never expected to love it so much! I’m now a bonafide, lap-swimming, mirrored-goggle-wearing pool regular and I swim three times a week (twice a week during my lunch hour, plus a weekend morning here or there) for about an hour.
And so my cross-training goes. I am convinced that I would not be able to run as well if I didn’t swim too, and vice versa. By running, I get to indulge a gadget-and-gear sweet tooth. By swimming, I get to show my mother that her investment in swimming lessons for me (and aggravation at my refusal to learn) have finally paid off. And, more importantly, I feel better than I ever have before.
In September 2009, I screwed up my puny courage and signed up for my first race, the Scotiabank Women Against Breast Cancer 5K on the Savannah in Port of Spain. Did I whomp that run?
I sure did! It was 93 degrees Farenheit, the bugs were swarming, my face was bright red, and it was the longest distance I had ever run. I didn’t run it fast under any stretch of the imagination, but that just means I have plenty of improvement to do on that 38:50 time, and improve I will, because I am now hooked.
The racing season goes from January to September here in Trinidad, and this year I’ll be beating my first 5K time, just you watch…Do I see a 10K in my future? I most certainly do; I just need to find it. However, though it will make me happier beyond belief if I ever complete a half-marathon or a mini-triathlon, I doubt any race will ever be sweeter than my first 5K–or the beer that followed it:
Though the Freezer Run 5K in December 2009 with my youngest sister was a blast too (here’s my recap of the momentous race):