So, I started jogging.
That’s my big confession. Not much of a confession, you say? Ok, here’s my confession: I can’t jog. Not good enough for you? Well, I can’t do push-ups either. Not one. Not even the girlie kind on my knees. I don’t like to tell people that because as far as I can tell, I’m pretty much the only person in the world who can’t even do one measly push-up.
But back to the jogging. I really can’t jog. Even in Junior High, back when kids were still encouraged forced to exercise in school, and Ronald Reagan wanted me to be able to jog a mile around the school track, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t overweight. I just wasn’t a jogger. And I couldn’t do enough sit-ups either. So I hated P.E. class and I hated that Presidential fitness program because it always seemed like I was the only one who couldn’t run the mile, who couldn’t complete enough sit-ups, who couldn’t do the pull-ups. And if push-ups had been part of that program, I guarantee you that I wouldn’t have been able to do enough of those either.
That stuck with me. Those exercises weren’t part of our daily school P.E. regimen so I never had a chance to improve or see that it was possible to get in better shape and to actually score well on those fitness tests. Instead, I labeled myself ‘non-athletic’ and trudged through five more years of Physical Education classes, dreading fitness tests and hoping I would never be singled out.
Does it sound like I’m blaming Ronald Reagan for the fact that I’m out of shape? Well, I’m not. I think we need fitness programs in schools now more than ever. I just wish I had come away from those junior high P.E. classes with confidence and knowledge of how to improve my athletic ability instead of feelings of inadequacy. But I guess Junior High is all about feelings of inadequacy anyway.
So, back to present day. After years and years of believing that I just can’t do it, I decided to start jogging. Being married to a bad-ass Navy EOD Tech for 8 years, I’ve become quite familiar with the inside of a gym. I’ve slowly overcome most of my “I just can’t do it” feelings that used to be associated with all sports and/or fitness equipment. But jogging and push-ups are two things that I just haven’t conquered. And yes, there is still some shame and embarrassment attached to it.
So why am I announcing this to thousands of strangers? Accountability, for one. If you all know that I’m working towards a goal of jogging for 30 minutes straight, perhaps I’ll be less likely to give up when the going gets tough. But the other reason I’m sharing this is that I know I’m not the only person in the world who can’t jog and I’m probably not the only one who can’t do one stupid push-up (I’m hoping that at least one of you will admit that and make me feel better about my shocking lack of upper-body strength).
I’m not saying that everyone should be out there jogging. It’s a personal choice. For me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to be able to do. I have no desire to turn into a competitive runner, but I would like to be able to go for a jog with my husband. I want to be able to complete a 5K and get one of those ugly free t-shirts. I want to burn more calories and I want a healthier heart. Also, I want to lose some of the weight I’ve put on since moving back to the United States. And I don’t do diets.
So I’m going to share with you the walk/jog program that I started a few weeks ago. There are several versions of this type of program out there; they are generally 10-12 weeks in length and move you gradually from walking to jogging with the end goal being 30 minutes of nonstop jogging. After 3 weeks of doing this, I’m really not sure if this particular program is a good fit for me, but I’ve decided I’ll just repeat week three until I feel like I’m ready to move on. I’m not gonna lie, week three really sucked. But I’ve decided that it’s not important how long it takes me to complete the program, as long as I eventually do finish it!
Bud Coate’s Ease into this Running Program
Before you start: get your legs ready with eight days of walking: Walk for 20 minutes a day for the first four days, then increase to 30 minutes a day for four more days.
Each week of the program, do your run/walk workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Take a rest day or an easy walk on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
WEEK 1: Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes. Complete 5 cycles.
WEEK 2: Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Complete 5 cycles.
WEEK 3: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 ½ minutes. Complete 4 cycles.
WEEK 4: Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 5: Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 6: Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete 2 cycles, then run 8 minutes.
WEEK 7: Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 8: Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete 2 cycles.
WEEK 9: Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute. Complete 2 cycles.
WEEK 10: Run 30 minutes.
Note: You may stretch out this schedule to include 2 weeks at a certain level if you feel tired after completing one. Do not be tempted to shorten the schedule. Remember, you are aiming for 30 minutes of uninterrupted running, not a distance. Run as slow as you need in order to reach the goal.
From Complete Book of Running, Amby Burfoot, editor, 1997, Rodale Press
As I said, there are plenty of walk to jog programs out there. A very popular one is the Couch-to-5K Running Program. That program promises to have you running 3 miles in just 8 weeks. Another is the 12-week Beginning to Run plan at Eat Better America. Speaking from experience, I think a 12-week plan is more realistic for those of us who have never been joggers.
Regardless of which plan you choose to follow, remember that you can always repeat a week if you aren’t ready to move on. The point of these plans is to ease yourself gradually into jogging, not push yourself too hard, become discouraged and give up! Do you like how I’m assuming some of you will want to do this with me? Come on, you know you want to!
Well, if you do want to give this a try, here are some tips/suggestions:
- Get some new running shoes. I’m serious. Go to a running store if possible and get the right shoes for your foot.
- Get a heart rate monitor. I know not everyone can afford to run out and buy all this fancy new gear. But heart rate monitors have really come down in price and I think it will help with your motivation. By using the heart rate monitor, I’ve been able to see improvements in my heart rate before I can actually feel a difference. It has definitely encouraged me even if I haven’t seen much improvement anywhere else.
- Run on the right surfaces. A treadmill is actually a really good place to start. You are in a controlled (read: air-conditioned) environment, you can keep a water bottle within arms reach, and you might even be able to watch television. But if you don’t have access to one, or are too embarrassed to start your huffing and puffing in front of people at the gym, try running at a school track or find a flat running trail. Just try to stay off hard surfaces such as concrete. That means no sidewalks! Running is hard on your joints, hard surfaces make it even worse.
- Quit being self-conscious! Don’t worry about what other people think. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Now for the push-ups. I don’t have a specific plan. I’ve been back at the gym for about a month and am slowly building my strength up with weight training. My goal is to do ten push-ups by the end of the year and I am confident that it won’t be a problem. I’ll let you know when I complete my first one (I’m about halfway there).
Now let me tell you about that beautiful photo at the top of this page. When we lived in Sicily, we had the opportunity to travel to several other countries in Europe. That photo was taken on a weekend trip to Austria. My husband was in Stuttgart, Germany doing some training and I flew up there to meet him for our wedding anniversary. We drove to Innsbruck, Austria for the weekend and this photo was taken on a day trip to a place called Walderalm. See that little road leading into the Austrian Alps? That is where I like to imagine I am jogging when I’m on the treadmill at the gym. And next time I visit Austria, I think I’d like to jog down that trail instead of walk.
And who wouldn’t want to run when at the end of the trail you can sit down at this table and enjoy fresh cheese from the dairy, a cold beer, and the view of snow-capped mountains all around you.