This morning I woke up early and went to the gym for a rare run on the treadmill. As a general rule, I am not fond of treadmill running. It makes me feel a bit like a lab rat, or a hamster running in one of those little wheels. You never actually go anywhere. You don’t feel the freedom of the open road. It all seems a little pointless, like tofu or decaffeinated coffee.
On the odd occasion, though, a treadmill workout is better than a road run. This can be true from a circumstantial point of view (you’ve woken up with sore knees and you need to run on a surface with some give; you’re tired and cannot be bothered to map out a route; the weather outside is frightful and you cannot find your balaclava or your will power). A treadmill run can also be beneficial from a training perspective, especially during the winter. It can be kind of difficult to do a tempo run or speed reps outside when it’s snowing and there’s a gusty wind blowing. Far better to head to the gym where you can focus on maintaining 5:30 minutes per kilometre without stressing about snow, wind, ice on the sidewalks, or the fact that it’s dark and you look like a burglar.
So anyway, I went for my treadmill run and worked up a good sweat. I had some anxiety to work out of my system, so I really belted it, clocking 5km in 24 minutes. Feeling a lot better and pleasantly loosened up, I returned home, where everyone was still asleep. Before taking a shower, I checked on my boys. At some point during my absence, George had crawled into bed beside his little brother, and the two of them were sleeping peacefully, James clutching his stuffed giraffe, George with arm over James’ shoulders. It was one of those moments that reminds me of why I love being a mother, and why, in fact, I was running on the treadmill at such an ungodly hour in the first place.
It is so weird to think that two years ago, I could barely run around the block. I had been bitten by the running bug previously, of course, but after seven years of no exercise my lifestyle was decidedly sedentery. I was decidedly unhealthy, and my clothing was decidedly tight. I had tried, over the years, to make comebacks to the world of running, but there was always something that stopped me. Injury, illness, lack of time. When it came down to it, though, all I lacked was the right motivation. When I got that email from the Geneva Centre for Autism back in April 2009, inviting me to join their team for the upcoming marathon/half-marathon/5km Charity Challenge, I knew instantly that I had finally found a reason to get with the program, and to stick with the program.
Initially I considered the 5km event. After all, I hadn’t run in seven years and I was about seventy pounds overweight. And the event was just six months away. But the little voice in my head that never shuts up until it gets its own way piped up and chanted, “Half-marathon! Half-marathon! Half-marathon!” And before I knew it, I had clicked on the link in the email and signed up for the half-marathon. Six months later, I stood at the finish line somewhat stunned by the fact that in just half a year I had shed sixty pounds, gotten myself into some semblance of “shape”, and completed a half-marathon.
A year further down the line, I have run several races and two more half-marathons. Another two are planned for 2011, and my comeback to running is now firmly established. All thanks to those two little boys who were snuggled up together this morning, sleeping beside each other, making me feel like the richest person on the entire planet.
Have you ever done something that you thought would be beyond your limits? What motivated you, and what helped keep you going when things got tough?