I remember I was at the King West Cardio-Go, where my trainer had offered to introduce me around and teach me to use the various pieces of equipment.
As an aside…this made all the difference in the world when I went back to the gym on my own, because I knew how to use everything. As someone new to exercise, embarrassed and awkward – having help meant I wasn’t quite as anxious the next time I showed up…or the next…or the next.
It was January when I visited the gym with my trainer for the first time, but since I’d made the decision in November to become fit, I didn’t even think about January being resolution month. I just saw joining Cardio-Go as a way to start training for this 10k I’d been convinced to sign up for. And with Trainer Chris to hold me accountable, there was no way I’d be missing my sessions on the treadmill.
That first day, I think I ran for something along the lines of 15 minutes. And by run, I mean I went a tiny bit faster than a walk…and no, those 15 minutes weren’t all running. There was some brisk walking in there too. How much? I can’t remember. Who wants to remember how bad they were in the beginning? (Okay, fine. There was a lot of walking).
Much as I joke, in hindsight, I realize I probably had it a lot easier when it came to the start of my running endeavours – at least compared to folks who decide to lose weight by running alone. I think because I’d been working with Trainer Chris for four weeks by that point (3 times a week), I’d established just enough of a base not to have to start right at the very beginning – like the Couch to 5k program would have you do.
Speaking of which, if you are looking to get into shape by running…Couch to 5k is an amazing program. I know several people who have used it to great effect. It is a very gradual step-up program, which is exactly what you want if you are working on your own and don’t want to get injured.
But I had a bit of guidance, garnished with 3 days of week of strength training, agility and general cardio work (like skipping - which I did a lot of once Trainer Chris realized it was the one tiny thing I was good at). That prep work meant I had more of a jump start than some when it came to putting on my running shoes. Any cardiovascular fitness is good when you have very little to start with.
So, that first run was 15 minutes long. From there, it was just a matter of building up time and frequency. I hit the gym three days a week after work to run on the treadmill. This, combined with my sessions with Trainer Chris, meant I was working out 6 days a week for 30-45 minutes at a time. I couldn’t imagine anything harder (probably good that I had no idea there was something called a two-a-day at the time).
At first, I focused on increasing the amount of time I was running compared to walking. Over time, I started to be able to run for longer periods at a time (Rather than run/walk). Looking back, I am pretty sure I violated every rule of learning to run (especially the one about not increasing your mileage more than 10% a week) when about six weeks later I did 10k on the treadmill just to see if I could. It took me 70 minutes (11:30 or so a mile), using a mix of running and brisk walking.
I was exhausted. Half-dead. And completely over the moon. Being able to run 10k in practice meant I could at least finish the race – and I still had a couple of months left to go to try and get faster.
Of course, Trainer Chris smartly told me I really shouldn’t have done that when I told him about my feat. Well, he didn’t actually say I shouldn’t have done it - but I am sure that’s what he was thinking, right along with “Thank goodness she didn’t hurt herself.”
Looking back now, I wonder if completing that first 10k on the treadmill should’ve clued me in on the fact that running was going to become a big part of my life. But the truth is, I was too tired to even think about what finishing that 10k meant.
All I knew was that I could do it. At the time, it was more than enough.