My history with running has mostly involved a treadmill. I used it occasionally throughout college, but stuck more to the elliptical. In grad school (after gaining quite a bit of weight), I joined the local YWCA and became better friends with the treadmill, frequently running 2-3 miles. This lasted about 9 months, until I injured my knee.
I injured my IT band in September 2008. I was running intervals on the treadmill and thought I’d up the speed. It felt like something cracked in my knee and I felt an intense pain. As soon as I switched to walking, the pain went away, so I thought I would try running again, but the pain came back almost immediately.
At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong with my knee. I continued to try to run on it for a few days, and then decided to try a bit of rest and ice. It didn’t hurt to walk on it, but anytime I went back to the gym (or tried stairs), I felt it. After close to 2 months of this, I finally went to see a doctor. He took an MRI of my knee to confirm it wasn’t something more serious, and then sent me to a physical therapist.
I started working with the first physical therapist around November, and it didn’t help. I did most of the exercises (I probably could have put a little more effort in), but I was getting frustrated at this point, especially when she told me it could be the next summer before I would be running again. When I came back to school in spring 2009, I decided to try a different PT. The new PT was wonderful!
Having never been to PT before this experience, I didn’t realize how weird it was that the first PT didn’t even touch my knee. The second PT used more massage therapy, hooked my knee up to a machine that stung a bit but seemed to help, and gave me exercises and stretches that made more of a difference. He was also much more encouraging, and had me running again (just a little bit) before summer. Which was great, since I got married in June 2009!
Back to the Treadmill
In July 2009, my husband and I moved across the country to start new jobs. We lived in an apartment with a treadmill, and I tried to work out as I could, but I was probably running just 2-3 times a week, if that. In January 2010, we adopted a puppy (Bailey) and in February, 2010, we bought our first home. I don’t think I exercised at all those few months!
In our new home, I no longer had convenient access to a treadmill like I did at the apartment, and I was not comfortable enough with our new neighborhood to run outside (there are very few sidewalks). In March 2010, I convinced my husband that we needed to buy a (used) treadmill. So we did!
I’m glad we got the treadmill, but I quickly became bored. At first, it had been so long since I ran, I couldn’t run a full mile without stopping to walk. I built myself up to 2-3 miles, but I wasn’t keeping up with it and found myself cutting workouts short due to boredom. In November 2010, I finally decided that I wanted to try running outside. My husband went with me to a nearby park the first few times, and I quickly realized I could run easier outside than I did on the treadmill.
Ditching the Treadmill
I found that I loved running outside. I didn’t get tired as easily, and it was okay if I ran a little bit slower. I realized how much fun it was to people watch – the first week I went to the same park, I think I saw Mr. Yale wearing the same t-shirt each day! It wasn’t long before I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner, and then it became even more fun, tracking my progress and playing with the numbers on the GPS.
I began hitting milestones that I never thought were possible before: On November 13, I ran 6 miles, a new distance record for myself. On November 21, I ran 7 miles for the first time. 7 miles!? I’m a slow runner (my average pace was 10:39), but I ran the entire time. When I was home for Thanksgiving break, I ran 5 miles straight with my dad. This was a big deal for me because my dad has been running for years, and runs 5 miles on an almost daily basis. This was the first time I have ever been able to run 5 miles with him (although he did slow his pace a bit for me). I also hit speed goals that I’ve never been able to do on the treadmill – for the first time, I ran 3 miles in under 30 minutes (29:24!).
Running outside gave me a new confidence, and I registered for my first race (5k) with a friend. I’ll save the race recap for a separate post, but it was so much fun! Even before the race, I was already thinking about registering for a 10k. When I got an email this week about a half marathon that is 17 weeks away, I decided I should try to go for it. I love having goals, and I these races seem to be the motivation I’ve needed to get my butt in gear. I’ve found I actually enjoy running now – I’m no longer running just to burn calories and get a work out in, but I’m running toward a goal.