Exercise. It’s something they say we should be doing for 30 minutes a day or 3 times a week or 5 times a week depending on who ‘they’ are. It’s also a word that used to always give me trouble spelling… Anyway, yes, exercise.
Growing up, I was always pretty active. I’d run around and play with my friends outside, ride bikes, and go swimming. I was also active in team sports, playing softball and volleyball through high school.
It wasn’t until I got to college when I first set foot in a gym. I was like a lost child. There were so many machines I had no idea how to operate, free weights, treadmills, rowing machines, ellipticals, and bikes. I had no idea where to even begin. Working out and staying active never felt like a chore before. Suddenly, it began to feel that way, and I spent most of my time at school half halfheartedly trucking along on the elliptical for 45 minutes and trying to figure out the correct way to do tricep dips. It was kind of a bummer.
Senior year of college, I decided to try and take up a few exercise classes. I tried Pilates for a few weeks, but quickly realized I lacked the core strength to carry out any of the moves. I took yoga and boot camp as elective classes, and I did quite enjoy both. Yoga greatly improved my flexibility, and I don’t think I ever felt as sore or broke such a sweat before boot camp.
Then I moved Korea and had no idea how to even begin to look for a gym. I decided to bite the bullet and try running. I always hated running. It was boring, repetitive, and painful. It probably didn’t help that all of my former coaches used running as a form of punishment (I began associating running with something bad).
Anyway, I tried running, and it was (predictably) terrible. I think I was running a mile every few days at the beginning of 2013. Not much of a workout, but at least I was trying, right? Finally, a runner friend convinced me to sign up for a race as motivation, and starting in the summer, I ran with a purpose. It changed everything. Suddenly I was pushing myself, drawing out runs to make them longer. I was running farther and faster than I ever thought I would. I ran my first 5K. Then I ran my first 10K. And I was hooked. I could get behind this running thing.
At some point I foolishly thought I could take on a half marathon. I must have still been riding that runner’s high from the 10K. I should have realized that my body was still adjusting to running distances, and a half marathon was not only twice as long, but twice as hard on my body. Long story short, I undertrained. I completed the half marathon (in about 2 hours), and I felt great about it, but my body didn’t. I ended up developing tendinitis (or at least that’s what the Korean doctor said in broken English) and had to give up running for a few months while I went in for treatment.
At the beginning of 2014, just when I was about feeling ready to take up running, I got sick. I started to have problems with my thyroid, and was left feeling tired, weak, and sick for months. I spent a lot of time in bed and at the doctor,and I lost a lot of weight. I could actually feel my body weaken.
I started to feel significantly better around May, and started to take walks regularly. Then I introduced some light cardio. Eventually I felt good enough to try something more intense, and I would (very slowly) do Insanity workouts, although I never completed them at first. I just felt like my whole body needed to be worked, and it seemed like a decent option. After about 2 months, I was finally able to make my way through the easier ones.
About a month and a half ago, I started running again. It was hard. It felt like I had never run before, and it was kind of discouraging. A year ago, I was training for races, and here I couldn’t even do a few laps around a track. But, I stuck with it. I’m currently running about 2.5-3 miles about 3 times a week now and it feels good. I’m slowly getting back to where I was, and I think the most important thing is to listen to my body and understand what it can and can’t do. I’m hoping to run a 10K by the end of November, which will be exactly a year since I ran the half marathon. Let’s hope this race goes better.:)